Fresh herbs are one of the greatest ways to increase the taste of your food healthfully. I often toss whatever leafy herbs are at hand liberally into a salad to add unexpected variations in flavor (basil, oregano and dill are all great choices). Fresh herbs can add punch to sauces or create intensely flavorful crusts for roasted meats. While fresh herbs are now regularly available at grocery stores year-round, growing your own herbs is a great way to master flavors you like and control the origins of your food. Growing herbs at home can be easy whether you live in a house in the suburbs or an apartment in the city.
Let it be known that one of the reasons I started to grow herbs was because they are much more resistant to diseases and infestations, but that still means you need to avoid a few mistakes to be able to enjoy them to the fullest.
Mistake 1: Growing from seed. Many herbs are perennials rather than annuals (dill, cilantro and basil being exceptions) which means they take forever to mature and impatience can set in. When you first start out trying to grow fresh herbs, I recommend you begin by trying to grow from seedlings rather than planting your own seeds. You can even grab a small plant at the grocery store to get you started. Seeds grow slowly; some take weeks to germinate; others need precise conditions to sprout and grow. All of these can be a headache for a new herb gardener, so skip it dive right in with plants.
Mistake 4: Not cutting early and often. As a novice gardener, it may seem like your puny little plant just isn't ready for a trip to the barber, but then you will find yourself sitting there wishing for leaves without much success. Basil is a great herb to practice pruning. Basil, like many herbs, if you don’t trim aggressively it will continue to grow straight up, and become too tall and top-heavy. Clipping or pruning makes herbs bushy and causes them to produce more leaves. It also keeps them from flowering. You rarely, if ever, want your herbs to flower. Flowering herbs lose flavor in the leaf when they produce flowers, giving you even more reasons to prune your herbs.
|Cuban oregano (with pansies)|
I was also at a garden center and found a variegated Basil that I have wanted to try since I first wrote about it, Basil Perpetuo a beautiful basil with a great flavor for Pesto that I have been looking to buy as a plant since 2014, because I hate growing basil from seed! You can read about this and other Pesto Basil in this post from 2014.