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Gardening At Home: Planting An Herb Garden
Nothing tastes quite as good as vegetables that youíve grown yourself in your home garden. Produce doesnít get any fresher than going from your yard to your table in the same day. The same can be said of growing your own herbs at home. One taste of some fresh basil in your spaghetti sauce, or fresh mint in your iced tea, and the dried stuff in expensive little jars from the grocery store just wonít cut it anymore. Growing your own herbs can be easy and fun. Here are a few guidelines to follow, as well as some tips about where you can use your new crops!
First, be aware that some herb plants spread. Mint can spread especially quickly. For this reason, consider using pots or compartmented beds for your herb garden so that the more aggressive herbs donít take over and choke out everything else. Another advantage to growing your herbs in containers is that they can be easily moved inside for the winter, and then not only will you not have to replace them the next year, but you can savor fresh herbs all year long. That said, some herbs are annuals, some are perennials, and still others are biennials.
Herbs are relatively strong plants. You can grow them from seed, or buy plants and repot them or plant them in the ground. If you keep your herbs outdoors and want to harvest some for the winter, you can pick the leaves and dry them yourself; they will still likely taste better and stronger than those you purchase in the store. Some herbs also freeze well.
Basil is one popular herb to grow and eat. There are different varieties of basil, but most people will associate basil with Italian food. Some ideas for using basil in your cooking are to make pesto, infuse vinegar or olive oil with it, and use in spaghetti sauce.
Like basil, there are many different varieties of mints. Mint is used often in beverages, as well as meat dishes, particularly lamb. It is also found in jellies and ice creams. Some use mint for medicinal purposes, such as soothing stomach aches.
Tarragon has an earthy, licorice sort of flavor. It is good with eggs, as well as chicken and fish dishes. It does lose some of its punch when heated, so unlike other herbs that you want to sit in slow cooking dishes, you should add tarragon at the end.
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