Glory's Garden

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Long term herbs for the garden.... part 2

Last time we spoke of the herb garden and now here's the list of the more common perennial herbs found in a typical kitchen garden.

Pick and chose that which appeals to you. The first herb that comes to most people's mind is arguably Mint. All mints, from the licorice, chocolate and apple flavored kinds to the candy cane peppermint are aggressive plants. So aggressive in fact that once planted you may never be rid of it and it will go everywhere and possibly choke out other plants. Believe me on this one.

Oregano is an herb I love to use in cooking. I grow two kinds, your average mild Italian Oregano and Cuban Oregano. (I prefer the very strong Caribean type my mother grows in the Dominican Republic but this is very hard to come by where I live). These two plants look entirely different though the taste is similar with the Cuban being more pungent. I actually prefer the Cuban because it over-winters so well in the house to give me a constant supply when the other Oregano is dormant under the snow. The Italian Oregano grows 2-3 feet tall, and bushy. It has a tendency to flop over when it gets too tall. It also gets tiny purple flowers if you don't continually snip it back. It can spread quickly and take over the garden unless trimmed often and it dries well. I take the entire plant, snipped almost at the root, place it in a paper bag and hang it to dry in the green house. In a few days it's dry enough to run my hand over the branches to pull off the leaves. I place these loose leaves in air-tight canning jars for use in winter.

The Cuban type grows more like a succulent so it doesn't dry well.(It freezes fine). Snip a piece off and you can root it in water very easily. That's how I grow new plants to give away. I gave one Cuban oregano plant to a friend and she told me it actually got her husband cooking for the first time. Anything I can do to help the busy working woman!

Lemon balm is another perennial herb which makes a wonderful, calming tea. It grows to be around 2 feet tall and if left to go to seed can produce many offspring. This can be dried or frozen for later use.

Chives is one of those plants I love more for the flowers which I pack into jars and fill with plain white vinegar to make pretty blushing vinegar with a slight oniony taste. This is great on salads. Woe to those who allow chives to go to seed however! more.

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