Having fun with herbs

In the last Halcyon Acres® blog post, we explored some growing tips, tricks and discoveries concerning thyme, basil, sage and oregano. Click on the link to see some of the easy growing tips for perennial herbs addressed.

parsley at halcyon acresToday, we’ll cover some herbs that may not come back year after year, but are easy to grow once you get them established and wonderful additions to meals and other lifestyle activities.

Parsley is a biennial. You don’t want to eat the leaves that are produced in the second year (they’re very bitter), but if you want an easy way to keep the crop coming year after year, leave last year’s plants in and reseed in spring. Once these plants go to seed (in the second year), they’re pretty good at self-propagation. So, if you plant two seasons in a row, you should always have new parsley plants coming in the spring without much effort. Another benefit we noticed this year to keeping plants in the soil after the season ends for most is the leaves continue to stay green and tasty even in extreme cold under heavy snow. Just make sure you mark your rows with flags high enough to see once snow falls. Parsley has some wonderful health benefits being rich in vitamin A, C and K. It’s a great antioxidant and good anti-inflammatory. Plus it provides a tasty, mild flavor to so many foods.

Dill is so much fun. It’s pungent flavor and prolific leaves makes a little go a long way. This is a plant that’s easy to start from seed. In fact, if you leave it in the garden through the fall, you’ll have a good self-seeded crop come spring. This is an annual, but easy to keep going year after year if you let nature take its course. Dill is a tough one to get started in the garden in the spring if you haven’t let it self-sow. It’s slow to germinate and weeds tend to choke out new plantings (at least around here). If you’re starting your first dill crop, it’s probably best to begin in containers.lavender at halcyon acres

Lavender is a perennial, but making it through the winter is pretty iffy in Zone 5. Frankly, we were too aggressive with weeding this spring (it comes up late and should be planted initially in warm weather) to know if last year’s crop made it (oopps – the lavender roots were too deep in the pile to find by the time I realized where I was in the garden). This is just such a wonderful, versatile herb, though, it’s worth planting each year if it doesn’t make it. Start seeds inside. Keep them warm and moist.

Rosemary is so much better fresh, it’s an herb you ought to consider including in the mix. Last year was the first try with this one, so I’m not sure if it will survive the cold winter. We didn’t have a lot of luck trying to start this from seed indoors, so wound up buying plants in the spring.

Cilantro is super easy to grow. You can just cast seeds in the garden and it will come up in almost any harsh conditions. The pungent smell wafts through the entire garden. Needless to say, it also serves as a great insect repellent to for the more sensitive companion plants you may be trying to protect. It tend to bolt in hot, dry weather, but you can also use it after it’s gone to seed.

Those are my favorites (at the moment any way). What are yours? Please share in the comments below.

nlevin

Nanette Levin learned the produce practices she uses mostly the hard way over 20 years of experimentation. Hopefully you'll consider this site one of the many good resources that have cropped up to help you avoid mistakes as a new gardener or a more experienced one shifting to chemical-free solutions. There's a lot of free information (concerning plants and horses), but we also offer consultative support for those seeking customized attention.

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11 Responses to Having fun with herbs
  1. Victoria
    January 8, 2013 | 12:48 pm

    Another great post! My favorite herbs are: thyme, basil, cilantro and lavender.
    Victoria recently posted..Amazing 3D Sidewalk ArtMy Profile

  2. nlevin
    January 8, 2013 | 12:58 pm

    Thyme and basil are two of my favorites too, Victoria. Thanks for stopping in and commenting.

  3. Debbie
    January 8, 2013 | 1:27 pm

    My kids love having dill on their eggs. I am hoping that my herbs will come up again this year. Thank you for your article.
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  4. nlevin
    January 8, 2013 | 1:55 pm

    That’s something I haven’t tried, Debbie. Thanks for the suggestion. Bet it would be great in deviled eggs too.

  5. Joy Balma
    January 8, 2013 | 8:26 pm

    I’m in love with cilantro these days! I juice it with ginger and kale and apple and lemon. You’ve inspired me to plant my own so I can enjoy the scent through the garden! thanks! Joy

  6. Chef William
    January 8, 2013 | 11:10 pm

    Well yes, we did both choose parsley in today’s articles. I’ve got garlic set for my article on the 10th and Rosemary on the 12th, so between us, were posting some good information on healthy foods.
    For the rosemary, I bring in a nice large plant at the end of the season and place it in the bay window of the dinning area. (I always seem to find a “favorite” plant that I won’t sell) The young shoots on the plant can be cut and planted to start a new crop for the coming spring.
    Chef William recently posted..What Is ParsleyMy Profile

    • nlevin
      January 9, 2013 | 2:25 am

      I forgot about garlic. That’s one of my favorites too, Chef William. Maybe I’ll cover that in a post to coincide with yours :-). I’ve had bad luck with growing herbs indoors, but haven’t tried digging one up from the garden. Didn’t realize rosemary could be propagated so easily. Great idea! Thanks.

  7. Minette Riordan
    January 9, 2013 | 12:41 am

    I love fresh herbs! Any insights about the best time to plant them? I am on the opposite coast from you and new to this zone, will have to investigate. I also like to plant thyme, basil and oregano in my garden.
    Minette Riordan recently posted..Writing Prompts for Mindfulness: How do you eat your lunch?My Profile

    • nlevin
      January 9, 2013 | 2:34 am

      Thanks for stopping in to check out the blog over here, Minette. That’s a hard question for me as I’ve never tried growing in a warm, coastal climate (my parents weren’t gardeners when I was living in LA county at the age of five). Sometimes it’s easier to time planting when you’re living in a more seasonal area. Basil and lavender like heat, so I imagine either one of those would best be planted once temperatures are consistently warmer. Thyme and oregano are much heartier once established, but you’d probably want soil temperatures sticking at 50 degrees or higher if you’re starting from seed. Water is important during arid periods for any young plants.

  8. Julia Neiman
    January 9, 2013 | 3:11 am

    The only herb you talk about that I don’t care for is dill. I have French lavender growing outside my back door. Since I live in southern California I don’t have the concern of gardens in the snow. We do have frost and one year we lost a lot, a lot of tomatoes that weren’t yet ripe. We picked as many as we could but lost more than we could save.

    My garden grows it’s own beets and pumpkins every year. I no longer plant those just to see if they continue to propogate themselves. We got 14 pumpkins this year without planting. And I did pull all the vines out of the ground.

    Fresh herbs are the best!
    Julia Neiman recently posted..Choosing Your Online Business ModelMy Profile

    • nlevin
      January 9, 2013 | 1:31 pm

      Thanks for stopping in and commenting, Julia. Yes, we certainly have different climate concerns. Glad to hear you’re having so much success with your beets and pumpkins.

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