Herbal Experience

            I�ve found herbs to be one of the easiest things to grow here on our little acre. They don�t take up much space and aren�t picky about the soil they grow in, however taste may be the most important reason to grow herbs. Like all other foods that are homegrown, herbs taste so much better fresh from your own garden.

            I started here with just a small corner beside the front porch. There were elephant ears in the very corner but I had room enough in the front to fit some herbs in. I started by just buying herbs in 4-inch pots: sage, rosemary, oregano, lemon balm and feverfew. The sage and oregano I used a lot, plus dried some for winter use. I also dried the rosemary and lemon balm. Three years have passed and I still have dried rosemary and lemon balm. I learned I didn�t need to dry any, as I really didn�t use it enough. The feverfew I originally grew for medicinal purposes. It is supposed to be good for headaches. I tried it one day when I didn�t have any aspirin but my feverfew tea didn�t do much for my headache. Even still I have kept the feverfew because of the daisy-like flowers it has. It flowers better than my Shasta daisies do.

            I also started some seeds that year after reading how easily herbs are to grow from seed. I started basil, parsley, chives, garlic chives and thyme. The basil grew kind of tall and spindly but did great once transplanted outdoors. The parsley also did well and has come back year after year. The garlic chives did really well. I planted them around the rose bushes as I heard they helped keep bugs away from the roses. The regular chives did not grow well. I have tried each year since to grow some and they have never done well. I even bought some in a 4-inch pot, they died too. The thyme seems to do well then it will suddenly die off. I have learned to harvest it before it dies.

            Last year I got several new mints: banana, lime, chocolate, orange and apple. If you want a really fool proof herb mints are the ones to grow. They seem to do great no matter what, however they are invasive and you may want to grow them in pots. I planted my chocolate mint outside and it has taken over that herb garden in just one season.

            I also planted pineapple sage last year. This turned into a huge plant, smelled wonderful, beautiful red flowers and I never used any of it. I was given a recipe for pineapple sage cookies but never got around to trying it. I grew lime basil with the same results, I never used it.

                        This year I am starting just a few herbs from seed; basil, thyme, Chinese celery and self heal (so far). I still have the mints, parsley, garlic chives, oregano and lemon balm. The lemon balm has probably grown better than anything. Being a relative of the mint, it has the same ability to become invasive. I see this spring that I have lemon balm not just all over the original herb garden but in one flower garden and also a spot in the backyard. I do love the smell though. Definitely an herb you might want to keep potted

            My suggestions for growing herbs:

                                     Limit yourself to growing herbs that you know you will actually use and try                                      new ones just a few at a time.

                                     Keep potted those that can become invasive.

One of our favorite recipes:

Fried Thyme Potatoes

  • 2 qt jars of canned potatoes (or enough peeled, cut in chunks, boiled potatoes to fill a frying pan. Potatoes should not be too soft.

  • Margarine, butter, oil�whichever you want to fry the potatoes in

  • Dried or fresh thyme

  • Garlic powder

  • Salt and pepper

Put enough oil (margarine or butter) in the pan for about half an inch on the bottom of the frying pan. Add potatoes. Sprinkle heavily with garlic powder and about a teaspoon dried thyme or a little less fresh. Add slat and pepper taste. Fry until hot and browned on edges.                                                            

                                                                                Becky Whitford