Fresh herbs add intense, amazing flavor to any dish. Whether you are cooking from scratch, or simply spicing up a pre-made dish, freshly picked herbs add nutrients, color and taste, far beyond what dried herbs are capable of. Because the flavor of fresh herbs is so intense, far less fresh herbs are required, usually just a third of the dry herbs that would be required. This means that you need only grow a small amount of fresh herbs to maintain a year round supply of flavor for your meals!
Growing herbs is fun and easy. It can be done in an apartment, in a planter garden, greenhouse, or large traditional garden – the options are endless. If your usually cooking style uses mostly the traditional oregano, thyme and rosemary, then you can plant a small grouping of these herbs, simply keeping them on your windowsill. With a little creativity, herbs can not only be tasty, they can be decorative. Get clever with the containers – plant your herbs in an old colander, a warn out pot, even grandma’s old gardening boots! By merging the beautiful, soft green of fresh herbs with an unexpected, whimsical container, your kitchen can really come to life.
When looking at your beautiful herb garden in the window is not enough, it is time to get cooking! Fresh herbs can be substituted for dried herbs in any recipe. They can be added to raw dishes, for example topping a salad off with freshly chopped parsley. Or they can be added to cooking dishes, such as adding fresh rosemary to your spaghetti sauce, or lemongrass to your baked chicken. Simply rinse off any visible dirt, dice from stem to leaf, and drop it into the pot!
One fun way to design your herb planting is to create a garden designed around a favorite dish. You can create a pizza garden, a spaghetti garden, even a Mexican chili garden! Say that your family is crazy about pizza – plant a pizza garden. This is best done in a small to medium outdoor garden, and is a fun way to get you and your family excited about a healthy meal!
Consider what goes in to making pizza sauce and toppings. For your sauce, plant tomatoes, oregano, garlic and basil. Each of these plants enjoys a lot of sun exposure, though oregano does require a bit of occasional shade, so consider planting it in the shadow of other larger tomato plants. Tomatoes, oregano, garlic, and basil are all relatively easy to grow, enjoying soil that is amply watered, yet drains well. Remember that fresh oregano and basil go a long way, and only a few plants will provide you with ample pizza sauce spices throughout the season.
Now, consider your pizza toppings. While you obviously cannot grow pepperoni, you can grow many other popular vegetable toppings including green pepper, red pepper, and onions – even jalapeños, if your family likes it spicy! These veggies are all easy to grow, and just one or two plants will provide plenty of vegetables for an entire season of pizzas. To add a little fun to the garden, you can even plant you pizza components in the shape of a pizza pie, letting each plant take up its own “slice” of the pie.
Whether you carefully choose the perfect selection of herbs to compliment your home made cooking, or simply grow a few simple choices that are useful in most any meal, growing your own herbs is fun, rewarding, and cost effective. Herbs add beautiful color and aroma when planted in the home, and can serve as pest controllers or decoration in outdoor gardens. Fresh herbs can substitute for dried herbs, using two thirds less fresh herbs than dry. You can store harvested herbs in a cool, dry, airtight container for days, even weeks. Then, if you find yourself with excess herbs, you can even dry them out, storing them for months, knowing that even your dry herbs are home grown.