Tips for Growing a Kitchen Herb Garden

Growing and Using Culinary Herbs

By: Marie Iannotti, Reblogged from: About.com Guide

herbs

Probably the most popular herbs to grow and use are the culinary herbs. Herbs used for cooking and seasoning can be incorporated into your existing flower or vegetable beds, grown separately near the kitchen door or kept handy on the kitchen counter. Growing culinary herbs is very similar to growing vegetables. The two most important considerations are to harvest at full flavor and to never use any fertilizer or pesticide on them that isn’t labeled for use on edible plants. Here are some more tips for growing flavorful culinary herbs.

Planting & Growing Kitchen Herbs

  • Annual herbs are inexpensive and easy to start from seed. Woody, perennial herbs establish better if you purchase seedlings or take cuttings.
  • Plant your herbs in a rich, well-draining soil and avoid heavy feeding with supplemental fertilizer. The scent and flavor of herbs tends to concentrate when they are grown in slightly lean conditions. (Going to the extreme and starving them or growing them in poor soil will have the opposite effect. The plants will be stressed and stunted.)
  • Limit pesticide use to an absolute minimum. If you must spray, use the least toxic solution.

Design Considerations for a Kitchen Herb Garden

  • Keep them handy. You will use them more often if they are within easy reach. And their beauty and scent will probably inspire your cooking creativity.
  • Culinary herbs can do double duty as ornamental plants. Parsley, especially the curly variety, makes a wonderful edging plant, if you don’t have rabbits nearby. Tall herbs, like bay laurel, can be potted and used as focal points. Herbs with variegated leaves, like golden or tri-color sage, are great in mixed containers. Don’t let the notion that these are seasoning herbs limit your use of them.
  • Herbs that tend to spread, like mint and oregano, can be grown in containers. The containers can be sunk into the ground, in the garden, or used as accent pots. Just don’t let the tips of the plants hang over and touch the ground, or they will root and grow.

Tips for Using Culinary Herbs

  • Most annual herbs taste their best before they flower. Once the annual herbs flower, they older leaves begin to decline and new leaves are smaller and bitter.
  • Pinch and use often. Even young plants need to be pinched back to encourage them to branch out and become full. Annual herbs, like basil, can be pinched when they are 3-4 inches tall.
  • If your herb plants begin setting flowers in earnest, shear back the whole plant by 1/3 and try to start using them more frequently.

Growing Tips for Specific Herbs

Basil Garlic Lavender
Mint Oregano Parsley
Rosemary Sage Thyme
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7 Old Myths About Cooking Pasta That Need to Go Away!

There are many myths about cooking pasta that simply aren’t correct and yet they persist. Read on for a few that we would like to see disappear! Photo credit: ouritaliantable.com

Oil in the water. Don’t add oil to the pasta water. It will only make your pasta slippery, causing the sauce to run off.

Drain well. Don’t drain every last bit of water off of the pasta. A little water is often good for the sauce and sometimes you will even want to add more (see ‘saving a scoop of water’ in this post.)
Continue reading 7 Old Myths About Cooking Pasta That Need to Go Away!

Top Reasons to Shop at a Farmers’ Market

Why shop at a Farmers Market?

Access to fresh, locally grown foods, for starters. That may be one of the best reasons, but there are many more. Farmers markets have fruits and vegetables at the peak of the growing season. This means produce is at its freshest and tastes the best. The food is typically grown near where you live, not thousands of miles away or another country. Shopping at farmers markets also supports your local farmers and keeps the money you spend on food closer to your neighborhood.
Continue reading Top Reasons to Shop at a Farmers’ Market

What? White Rice Better Than Brown?

A Reblog from: TheHealthyHomeEconomist | By Sarah  Thanks to Manang Kusinera for the link!  

My last videoblog titled Healthy Chinese drew some comments from folks questioning my choice of rice. Why was I using white basmati rice instead of brown?  Isn’t brown rice the healthier choice, after all?

Ok, I’ll spill the beans, rice.   Here are my reasons …

Truth is, neither my husband or myself have ever enjoyed brown rice.   Every time we eat it, it just seems to not sit very well in our stomachs.  It, well, uh, sits like a brick for lack of a better word.
Continue reading What? White Rice Better Than Brown?