CULTIVATING HERBS

If you are wondering about what herbs to plant in your garden this Spring, here is a list of the top ten herbs selected by members of the Herb Society of America:

  • Sweet Basil ( Ocinum basilicum)
  • Common Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
  • Bay ( Laurus nobilis)
  • Common Sage ( Salvia officinalis)
  • Greek Oregano ( Origanum vulgare)
  • Chives (Alliums schoenoprasum)
  • Dill ( Anethum graveolens)
  • Parsley ( Petroselinum crispum)
  • Rosemary ( Rosmarinus officinalis)
  • Lavender ( Lavandula spp.)

Chances are that you may have some or all of these herbs established in your garden. If not, this is about the time of the year to get started.

For now, I will focus on five herbs on the list, and add an additional herb not mentioned. These are the herbs needed to make the Herb Oil that was mentioned in my previous herb blurb: basil, marjoram,oregano, sage, and thyme.

The easiest thing to do, if you need these herbs, is to get them as young starts and plant them in the garden when the time is right. If you want the fun, and at times frustration, of starting herbs from seeds, cutting, or division, then here are some cultivation guidelines specific to each herb.

Guidelines:

   Basil - Genovese is a good choice for making the herb oil. Basil seeds may be started indoors by usinga soilless mix, heating mat,  and growing light. Seeds can also be directly sown in the garden when the soil temperature is above 50*F. Cuttings may be taken from an established plant by removing 4 inches of a stem right before flowering. Place the cutting in water, and transplant it when roots developed.

   Sweet marjoram (Oreganum majorana) - Marjoram seeds are sown indoors in early Spring, or by division. To divide, wait for the first sign of growth in the Spring before digging up the entire plant into two or three parts for replanting.

   Oregano - Greek oregano is best for making the herb oil. Cuttings of oregano can be taken in late Spring, then root the stemsin sand, water, or a mixture of sand, peat and perlite. Direct seeding is possible, but make sure the soil is warm, and the forecast does not call for rain. Oregano seeds are quite tiny. They depend on light for germination, so the seeds can easily be washed out by rain.

   Sage - Common sage, or the Berggaten sage may be used in the recipe. Sage can be propagated by cutting. Take a 3-4 inch long stem which has the soft and greenish part, indicating that it is a new growth. Place cuttings in clay pots with a mixture of half sand and half perlite. Mist daily until roots are formed.

   Thyme - There are many varieties of thyme, but try growing the common thyme. Thyme can be cultivated by seeds, cuttings, and divisions. Seeds may be sown indoors but not exposed to direct sunlight. Daily misting is vital for germination. When germination occurs, wait about two weeks before applying liquid fertilizer such as fish emulsion. Thyme may also be lifted off the ground in the Springand divided into two or three parts for replanting. Cuttings can be done by snipping a 3- inch stem that has new growth. Place the stems in wet sand, and mist daily until roots form.

Enjoy your garden!

When your plants are ready for harvest in the summer, try this recipe from The Herb Society of America's Essential Guide To Growing And Cooking With Herbs. Posted with permission.

Five - Herb Pasta Salad

  • 1 cup fresh herbs ( any combination of basil, sage,oregano, thyme,marjoram, parsley, or others)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1/4 C of olive oil
  • 1 pound of spaghetti, broken into small pieces and cooked
  • 1/2 C sliced black olive
  • 12 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 C freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Wash and dry herbs. Chop all herbs and garlic in a food processor, slowly adding oil. Allow pesto to sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour for flavoredto blend.

Cook spaghetti and cool. Toss with pesto, olives, and tomatoes. Serve cold. Sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

Additional reading:

Starting Herbs from Seeds - The Herb Society of America

www.herbsociety.org/resources/t4k/starting-herbs-from-seeds.html                   

Propagation by Cuttings, Layering, and Division

https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/426/426-002/426-002.html

 

Other Times, Other Herbs!

2016

Vietnamese Coriander

Mexican Discovery

Rosemary

2015

Books, Saving Seeds, Overwintering, Year-round Herbs, Herbs Gone Wild, From Garden to Plate, Edibles, Dill, Thyme, & Oregano