...plus basil, tomatoes, eggplant… and maybe some pumpkins.
A garden is a wonderful thing. It can provide food for your table (and sometimes for local wildlife), beauty for your landscape, an educational and fun activity for your family and support for the ecosystem.
Planting herbs is a great way to get started gardening. Most of them are not finicky and need nothing more from you than a plot of dirt in a sunny spot and a little water during dry spells. Even city-folk can grow herbs in a container on a porch or rooftop that gets enough sun.
We started a perennial herb garden at Q Center several years ago. Our first plot included purple sage, thyme and mint. Sage and thyme are good candidates for your first herb garden, since they require minimal maintenance and will flavor your dishes year after year. Mint can spread out of control if not watched carefully, so if you like it, plant it in its own pot.(Since we’re not a licensed grower, we can’t serve our harvest to guests, but we can use it for decoration around serving pieces or in vases.)
In our area, annual herbs like basil, parsley and cilantro die off after a hard frost. But that doesn’t mean you can’t continue to enjoy them through the winter. You can transplant your herbs in medium-sized pots. Keep them near a window that gets at least six hours of sun each day and harvest as needed for your recipes.
You can also harvest and dry herb cuttings. Just cut sprigs or whole branches in the morning before the sun gets too hot. Rinse lightly with cool water. Tie them loosely together in bunches, hang in a dry, airy spot with dim light and check on their progress every couple of days for a week or so. Once the herbs are dried, store them in an airtight container and use them until next year’s crop comes in.
A couple years’ success in the herb garden will probably lead you where it did us. This year we branched out (pun intended) into vegetables by planting peppers, tomatoes and eggplant. We posted some photos of the garden on our flickr stream.
We’re thinking about pumpkins for 2012. What do you think?
How did you start your garden and how did it grow?
Leave a comment and let us know...