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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Long term herbs for the garden

Every accomplished cook and possibly the unaccomplished ones too, should have an herb garden. Yes, that's my opinion but it also happens to be the right opinion even if you have no intention of cooking with the herbs. Why would you have an herb garden if you weren't planning on using them to brighten your food? Have you never seen one? Herbs are beautiful. Bees buzz around them, butterflies flutter to them and deer can't stand them. Good enough reasons for me. How about you? That's what I thought. Let's plant a perennial herb garden.

So, how does one plant an herb garden? Not very differently from any other type of garden really. Herbs in general prefer slightly dry, poor soil and full sun. Rich soil has a tendency to make herbs go to flower more quickly which draws the flavor out of the leaves. You don't want that. The flavors of the herbs becomes less intense so if you are planning to use them in cooking don't worry about enriching the soil with organic matter as you would when planting flowers. Also add some sand before planting. This will make it drain better.
Once the sight is picked out and prepared, removing rocks, weeds and such, you'll have to choose from hundreds of herbs. So, which ones? This depends entirely on you, your taste preferences and what you consider pretty. For instance, I dislike the taste of Rosemary so I never cook with it. On the other hand Rosemary is such a pretty, tender perennial plant that it would be a pity not to include it in every herb garden. It has a dense, bushy form that begs to be a topiary of some sort. The more you clip it, for use in cooking, the more bushy it becomes. It even can be over-wintered indoors if you live in cooler regions of the world and comes back better than ever in spring once replanted outside. In temperate zones it does fine, staying evergreen in most places.

I shall give you a list of the most sought after herbs in the next post. Stay tuned!

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