The Foodie

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The Foodie: Growing and Cooking With Herbs

May 13, 2009
by Isabel Cowles
Herbs can be a perfect introduction to gardening for those with limited space or little experience. Find out the history of various herbs, which herbs will flourish in your climate and how to grow them, and which ones pack the most punch in a recipe. Filling your home with the scent of lavender, lemon verbena or mint is easier than you think.

Getting Started With Your Herb Garden

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For many, the prospect of starting and maintaining a garden seems daunting or even impossible. Fortunately, you don’t need a green thumb and acres of land to begin a garden. Herbs require little space (even a windowsill will do) and don’t demand a lot of time or attention. With minimal effort, you can have a perpetual supply of spice and flavor to enhance your kitchen and home. An article published on the Gardenline Web site, "Selecting Herbs to Grow," suggests 10 herbs that a newbie gardener can grow and cook with.
Many variables can affect the way herbs grow. Do a bit of research before you decide what will do best in your garden. Some herbs are annual and some are perennial; some spread readily, while others are more naturally contained. "Growing Herbs in the Home Garden" explains the distinctions among herbs and offers tips on how to plant them.
If you’ve never shopped for herbs, visiting a nursery or garden store may seem intimidating. You’re likely to confront rows of budding plants, shelves of seeds, stacks of planting pots, and bags upon bags of fertilizer and potting soil. Before you head to the store, educate yourself about the exact plants you want to purchase, whether you want to keep them indoors or outdoors, and the tools you’ll need for maintaining your garden. Real Simple magazine offers a list of things to consider before you visit the nursery, along with advice on selecting the healthiest plants.

Herbs at Home

A well-rounded herb garden can be a cook’s best friend. Experimenting with herbs in salads, omelets and soups is a great way to appreciate what you’ve grown. Adding a few sprigs or leaves can enhance virtually any dish. The BBC offers a guide to cooking with herbs, which includes information about available herbs in the supermarket, storing tips and preparation advice.
Don’t lament a lack of outdoor space: keeping herbs inside can be a great way to decorate. Herbs do well in contained pots as long as they get plenty of water and sun. Consider such ornamental storage options as Eggling’s adorable boot-shaped “Rainy Day” planter or the window boxes offered at Windowbox.com. If your house or apartment has no sunny spots, AeroGarden offers container herb gardens with automatic lighting.
To learn more about growing, cooking with and other uses for herbs, read “Your Backyard Herb Garden: A Gardener's Guide to Growing Over 50 Herbs Plus How to Use Them in Cooking, Crafts, Companion Planting and More” by Miranda Smith.
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