When thinking of gardening, cooking, eating healthy, one cannot get away from the beauty and necessity of herbs. Regardless of your goal- to grow healthy food for you and your family, to attract butterflies, to make your gardens beautiful or to simply delight your senses- herbs fit the bill.
For the most part, herbs are perennials and hardy. Even in our erratic weather patterns in Texas, herbs have performed very well for me and have brought me much satisfaction and joy. As with most fresh food, when you have tasted the flavors of fresh sage, thyme, rosemary and more- you can never go back to the herb dust you can purchase off the shelves in the supermarkets. The taste is just so amazing. And by fresh, I also mean the herbs harvested and dried by your own hands.
And just to clarify a few terms:
Herbaceous– means that a plant dies back to the ground in winter, but comes back each spring. You can have plants that are not herbs but are herbaceous and Herbs that are not herbaceous!
Perennial– a plant that returns year after year, can be evergreen or herbaceous.
Below is a tip sheet that will help you get stated in the wonderful world of herbs.
Many more articles on particular herbs and gardening are located in the Herb Category and in the Organic Gardening Category.
Herbs- From Garden to Table
What To Plant Where
A large majority of herbs are perennials and biennials, so they will be with you for quite a while when choosing herbs:
- Consider their origin- did they come from wooded areas, desert areas, wet areas etc. and group like plants together.
- Consider water requirements of each plant
- Consider growth habits: height, cold hardy, heat tolerant, upright or rambler, etc.
- Consider their function:
- For culinary use- what and how do you cook
- Attract pollinators or repel insects
- Or just for looks
Each of these points will help you determine where in your garden to locate the plants. Obviously, a water loving herb does not need to be planted with Rosemary and Lavender as these herbs prefer a very dry climate. If you consider these aspects before you plant everyone will benefit.
What Herbs are good for our area of Texas
- Thyme- creeping lemon*
- Sage- Salvia Officinalis*
- Italian Oregano*
- Lavender- English and Fern Leaf*
- Basil- all kinds
- Aloe Vera
- Lemon Balm*
- Salad Burnett *
- Lemon Grass
- Sweet Woodruff
- Garlic (plant in September)
The list goes on as there are so many, but these will get you off to a good start!
*- good for planting in fall as they grow all year long
Now To Table
- Use Fresh- simply snip and use- sprinkle chopped herbs in your dishes while cooking or on top as a garnish.
- Cut and tie in bundle (rubber bands work great!)
- Hang to dry or dry in oven on low or a hot car
- Grind and store- chop in blender, store in jars in a cool dark place like a pantry.
Herbed Oils or Vinegars- place herbs in clean jar and cover with oil or vinegar and let steep for 3 weeks. Strain and store in a cool dark place.