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Thread: Growing Herbs--What Do You Do?

  1. #1
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    Growing Herbs--What Do You Do?

    My daughter wanted to plant herbs in her garden. I've had gardens but never planted herbs. So we planted basil, rosemary, and thyme at the end of the vegetable garden. Now what do we do? Do you pick them like vegetables? How do you know when they are ready?

  2. #2
    Super Member sweet's Avatar
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    Hi Ellie, Each herb has it's own characteristics.
    Basil must have it's top pinched to bush out. It can be planted a little deep if you like. Basil leaves can be harvested as needed once your plant gets enough leaves to share. Keep the flower buds pinched off all the time. Once basil goes to seed, as an annual, it's only function is to produce seed then naturally die. I like to wash my basil very gently when I water it, and before picking a few leaves so I know that it's clean. Basil bruises very easily. If you bend a leaf in half you will see the fold darken alot. I love watching basil seeds when planting because after they get wet, they form a gel coat all around, amazing!
    Rosemary, now here's a good one. It hates to be wet, but cannot dry out. Rosemary will tell you when it needs water bad when the tips of the stems turn downward. If this happens too often, you may see some stems dying back. If that happens cut the stem back till all the bad parts are removed. Rosemary is a perennial so you can enjoy the beautiful flowers. Some lore goes that The Virgin Mary placed her cloak over a rosemary bush and ever since the flowers remain blue. (Now there are lots of colors). Rosemary needs to be pinched some also to remain bushy. It can get quite large if you are in a good zone for it and it is happy. Rosemary is pretty hard to grow from seed, so a plant is a great way to start.
    Thyme, oh it's such a darling plant with all of those tiny leaves. Thyme also should be pinched a little to encourage growth. Thyme does not too much water. Once thyme starts spreading (if it's a creeping variety) you can cover a little part of a stem with soil and it will eventually root. If it's an upright variety, give it a haircut now and then so it can bush out.
    I use 14-14-14 Osmocote, about a teaspoon which should last almost a season, depending on conditions. Rain and heat will shorten the life of the time release fertilizer.
    Now to the question at hand. I'll give you my answer, ok. I do not like to cut and eat the herbs too soon after purchase. I like to give them a little time to bush out and also wash the leaves when you water so that you can rinse away any possible chemical residue that may be residual. The herbs will start to mature and then you can decide to harvest some and use immediately (as basil in pesto and freeze) or you could tie a few sprigs together and hand to dry. Then again, you could chop up some and put them in ice cube trays to use through another season. If you'd like to try making vinegar with the herbs, there are many recipes online. If you decide to try infusing the hers in oil (use recipe), I suggest that you use within a few weeks and keep refrigerated. If you'd like to craft with the herbs, you could dip them in a paint then press onto a t-shirt, tablecloth, etc. Herbs can always be used as a garnish. I have also made wreaths with fresh herbs that looked so pretty. Some herbs you can make into a living wreath using 2 wreath molds, sphangum moss, etc. Same with topiary and such. Now they all need sun a good part of the day. How much depends on your latitude and zone. More information can be harvested by contacting your local extension service that every county has and ask for information that will be great info for your locale.
    I'll be happy to answer any other questions. If I don't answer quickly here, feel free to pm me,ok. Enjoy those little buggers. BTW, they are not usually bothered by pests, but if they are, it's an easy fix for most. I like the natural products with pyrethrium, a flower. It's pretty safe but watching and washing them usually keeps them healthy.
    Oh, I could go on and on....... like getting some oregano and call it your italian garden or pizza pots, or........
    Good Luck!!!!

  3. #3
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Once the plant is a decent size you simply harvest a few stems at a time, leaving the rest of the plant to continue growing. For basil it's a good idea to trim several stems at a time to encourage branching. You can put the stems in water in the frig to keep the leaves fresh longer. Same with rosemary and thyme. Do not use the stems for cooking; just strip off the leaves.
    Last edited by Prism99; 05-07-2013 at 07:07 PM.

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    Super Member sweet's Avatar
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    Oh, I just looked and you are in KY. That means that the rosemary most likely will need extra special precautions for the winter to remain alive, might be a challenge. The thyme should overwinter fine. Of course the basil will be done in one season....... hope this helps a little.

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    Super Member petthefabric's Avatar
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    I've just started experimenting with herbs. Oregano spreds, so I planted it between a concrete walk and the garage, to contain it. I love the spicy Mexican variety. It smells good along the walk. Also, I'm hoping it will serve as aground cover to keep roots of clematis cool.

    We're at 3100 ft elevation, it snows, rarely below 20'F and gets to 100'F in summer. Rosemary loves it here and it's a favorite because deer don't like it. Nice evergreen in the garden.

    Actually I've heard deer don't like most herbs, except, alas, basil-one of my favorites. Basil has been touch and go here but I keep trying.

    Last year, thyme did well. So this year it's planted as a ground cover. The delecate flavor is so nice. My daughter tells me to mow it down in the winter and it'll come back fine in the spring.

    This year I'm trying chives, fennel and dill. Oh yes, I've planted pepperment which the dogs have trashed by digging-going to put more rocks there to discourage them. It also makes a good ground cover below the camelia.

    Due to poor soil, poor drainage, deer and dogs, a vege garden will take some serious preparation. So for now, they're in pots or landscape plants. I'm picking my favorites one at a time. I'd like to try taragon, sage, lemon balm.

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    Super Member Tink's Mom's Avatar
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    Just a note...if you are going to plant mint or even dill...they probably should be planted in pots. They spread like crazy! The pots can be planted in the garden, but this just helps to contain them.
    Tink's Mom (My name is really Susie)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prism99 View Post
    Once the plant is a decent size you simply harvest a few stems at a time, leaving the rest of the plant to continue growing. For basil it's a good idea to trim several stems at a time to encourage branching. You can put the stems in water in the frig to keep the leaves fresh longer. Same with rosemary and thyme. Do not use the stems for cooking; just strip off the leaves.
    You can use the tender stems of thyme but not the tough ones. Rosemary is great; once it's stalks get big enough, you strip the leaves off of them and use them as shish kabob sticks; talk about flavor. My rosemary goes all winter long and its about 4 feet tall and about the same around; only because I just did a major cutting back on the bush. My sage also now has a thick tree like stalk since it's lasted for over 3 yrs now, year round. Herbs are great, I even make my own herb de province because I don't like what is sold, mine has lots more in it and so much more flavor.
    Judy

  8. #8
    Super Member ptquilts's Avatar
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    My BIL gave me a thyme plant and boy did it spread. And I don't even use thyme for much of anything. Smells nice though, and the bees love it.

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    Senior Member puck116's Avatar
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    I love planting herbs. I plant in pots or my window boxes that are on top of the railing. This is my 3rd yr. Last year my oregano and mint came back. This year the sage and thyme came back. I have 10 different herbs; mint, stevia, oregano, basil, spicy basil, rosemary, dill, parsley and sage & thyme that came back. My husband makes pizza at least once a week and I like to chop up a variety to sprinkle on my side of the pizza. He only likes Stevia on his side. I'll add herbs to just about anything I'm cooking; soups, chili or on steak and chicken. Loving the info from Sweet as I'm really not literate about care of the herbs. We go to FL for the winter and there is no one here to take care of my herb plants.

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    I live in Illinois west of Chgo........here I have chives and oregano that come up yearly......use chives for baked potatoes and oregano all year long for lots of things......I will dry the oregano before the frost hits.....I just use the chives as they grow during the summer.......

    yearly I will plant (just did actually) in old wash tubs one with parsley-flat leafed and the other with sweet basil...use both during the summer fresh as I need, then in fall before frost will cut down and dry for winter use. I do a lot of scratch cooking so herbs are necessary in my kitchen..........this year I also planted (in a large pot) mint for my sun tea........hopefully it will winter over and come up again next year.......I usually buy a rosemary plant and a thyme plant during the summer and use that herb as I have it..............then we also plant lots of veggies too..........

  11. #11
    Senior Member AlaskaAlice's Avatar
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    I'd like a kitchen counter herb set up! Herbs grow wonderful in Ak summers. There are lots of wild herbs to find in the woods here.
    Herbs are so great in just about all cooking! and so good for us!

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    I plant all my herbs in a container (even to include chives) Basil, Thyme,Lavender, Rosemary, Parsley is the most I plant. Keep em trimmed, usually I bring in the herbs over the winter and put them back out. Except for the 2 pots of chives that I have, they are out all winter long ..
    When Life brings big winds of change that almost blows you over.Hang on tight and Believe.
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    Have been making pesto. Mmmm so good can't believe it. Basil, pine nuts or walnuts, quality olive oil, garlic - food processor heaven. Even made homemade pasta (America's test kitchen) wonderful - fit for a king. Made it with flat leaf parsley too before the basil was ready - threw in some cilantro. Do some searching and find wonderful recipes for those terrific herbs.

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    Super Member MaryMo's Avatar
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    I grow herbs in tires and other containers in my front yard ... sage, chives, rosemary, thyme, taragon, parsley, lemon balm and mint (several varieties) - adding fennel this year. All have survived over the winter for several years .... I just leave the leaves that fall from a nearby tree on them. Mowing has been greatly reduced in this part of my small yard. Chives are blooming for the first time this year - 3 year old plants. Taragon and sage and mint are overgrown and will be cut back this year. Mint has spread all over the yard and is almost indestructable (I don't have digging dogs.) and smells wonderful when cut. Bees also love the mint when it blooms .... almost as much as I do - sprigs in iced tea. I enjoy the comments about the fragrance as people make as as they walk by. I am learning how to use each of the herbs in cooking and appreciate the suggestions of others on this thread.
    Make it a scrappy happy day!

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    Super Member roserips's Avatar
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    I enjoyed reading your post and the responses you have some really great information here. I have always loved my herb garden and most of all the treat to go out and pick then come in and cook with fresh herbs! Enjoy yours.

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    Quote Originally Posted by puck116 View Post
    I love planting herbs. I plant in pots or my window boxes that are on top of the railing. This is my 3rd yr. Last year my oregano and mint came back. This year the sage and thyme came back. I have 10 different herbs; mint, stevia, oregano, basil, spicy basil, rosemary, dill, parsley and sage & thyme that came back. My husband makes pizza at least once a week and I like to chop up a variety to sprinkle on my side of the pizza. He only likes Stevia on his side. I'll add herbs to just about anything I'm cooking; soups, chili or on steak and chicken. Loving the info from Sweet as I'm really not literate about care of the herbs. We go to FL for the winter and there is no one here to take care of my herb plants.
    Can you tell us more about Stevia? I use the liquid sweetener occasionally in my tea (no calories). Is this the same as the sweetener? Are the leaves sweet? Thanks. You are the first that I have heard that grows Stevia at home.

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    I have Rosemary as a hedge and use it all the time. I make a Rosemary jelly that is great with roast chicken. When my thyme, rosemary, basil, oregano and tarragon need a haircut, I make a big salad and toss them in too. They add great flavor to the salad.

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    We don't grow herbs because my husband and I allergic to some. Rosemary, cilantro, oregano, thyme.

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    Super Member sweet's Avatar
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    Hello Iraxy, I don't have much time at the moment so I'll just let ya check out:
    http://www.stevia.net/growingstevia.htm
    http://www.motherearthnews.com/organ...#axzz2SpwdmaXL
    http://www.commonsensehome.com/stevi...own-sweetener/
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UMWGE3kgDE

    That's a start for using and growing stevia. I'll see if I can get some more info to you, hopefully soon.......

  20. #20
    Super Member petthefabric's Avatar
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    I love having enough to use chives like lettuce on a sandwich. Lemon balm makes a nice tea for summer. I love the flavor of lemon, but they die in our winter, so lemon thyme is on my list to plant.

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    Super Member rexie's Avatar
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    Herbs in Ky.

    I live in western KY. I have rosemary, thyme, sage and oregano that grows and comes back each year. I use the oregano mostly. When it starts to get tall, I cut with scissors and tie several long stems together. Then I hang it to dry. When it has fully dries I pull off the leaves and crumble with my fingers. then I put it in a jar and put a lid on. It is great in spaghetti and especially on the frozen pizzas...makes them edible.






    Quote Originally Posted by EllieGirl View Post
    My daughter wanted to plant herbs in her garden. I've had gardens but never planted herbs. So we planted basil, rosemary, and thyme at the end of the vegetable garden. Now what do we do? Do you pick them like vegetables? How do you know when they are ready?

  22. #22
    Super Member JoyjoyMarie's Avatar
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    I started a few fresh herbs in my deck flower pots a couple years ago, and I have really enjoyed using the fresh herbs in my cooking. Then I had to wonder why I didn't do it before!! They are so much nicer than dried stuff. I only read the lst page, but want to add that dill is one of my favs too - It 's too big for the pots, but I grow it down near my chives around my back deck. It's so wonderful fresh! Hope you enjoy yours!
    KEEP CALM and CARRY ON!!

  23. #23
    Super Member petthefabric's Avatar
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    Tryed a citrus in pot last year and this year it's infected, sprouting from below the graft, loosing leaves-calling that one "knowledge by experience". So today bought more basil and potting soil and chives. Tomorrow the basil will get the big pot and will put the chives into a partially filled chive pot. Herbs are so fun in the garden.

  24. #24
    Super Member MaryMo's Avatar
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    Did you know many herbs repel those pesky insects in your yard .... like mosquitoes and ticks and flies? Reading up on the effectiveness of herbs in the garden has inspired to plant more. Keeping away all the bugs and then flavoring recipes too .... what a deal!
    Make it a scrappy happy day!

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    Quote Originally Posted by blueheavenfla View Post
    Can you tell us more about Stevia? I use the liquid sweetener occasionally in my tea (no calories). Is this the same as the sweetener? Are the leaves sweet? Thanks. You are the first that I have heard that grows Stevia at home.
    Stevia is really easy to grow at home and yes, it is the same as the liquid sweetener and its not bad for you which is great. It's the only non-sugar I'll use after getting aspartame poisioning and it causing havick in my life. Never again, it's either sugar, maple syrup or stevia. I've even heard that aquave can spike your blood sugar. Anyways, it's only natural things when it comes to sweetening for me.
    Judy

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