A Beginner’s Guide To Growing Herbs – Part 2
We covered a few of the most common and easy to grow herbs in the first of our two-part series. In the second part, we will cover some of the slightly more unusual ones. These are herbs that might be a little more expensive or harder to find in supermarkets – with the exception of the ubiquitous parsley! We have included parsley here as it is a herb that any grower will be glad to have in their patch, and will save you buying a sad and wilted bunch from a supermarket shelf.
Remember that herbs can be a fabulous way to bring zest and zing to your home cooking, as well as a few added nutrients. Herbs aren’t off limits for any eating plans I know of, so grow away and enjoy the palette lifting scents and flavours of delicious home-grown herbs!
Dill is a popular herb for seasoning fish dishes, particularly smoked salmon or gravdlax. Nordic style dishes tend to feature dill heavily, often in sauces and it can also be added to oil or butter to make a delicious addition to bbq. Dill can be utilized in other savory items or even take advantage of its pretty frills, and use it as a tasty garnish.
How to grow Dill:
Dill is another herb that grows best from seed. It, too, should be started indoors in early spring and transplanted outdoors when the danger of frost has passed.
Dill is a summer annual that prefers a sunny location with well-drained soil. It will also thrive in containers.
Dill is an easy-to-grow annual that thrives in a variety of climate conditions. It can survive the winter if planted soon after flowering time, although it may lose its flavor and develop mildew if not properly maintained.
Fennel is a pleasant and fragrant herb with a licorice flavor. The bulb is strongest in its raw form and is a tasty addition to a coleslaw or a salad. Cooked on a griddle pan or bbq, it becomes a more mellow and slightly sweeter flavour, perfect as a side accompaniment.
The pretty fronds atop the bulb are the ‘herb’ part of the plant, and are lovely as part of a salad, or as a garnish on top of potato salads or coleslaw.
How to grow Fennel:
Fennel is another herb that grows best from seed and should be started indoors in early spring. When the plants are fully dormant, they can be transplanted outdoors.
Fennel grows best in a sunny position, on well-drained earth. It may also be grown in a container.
As it is also a root vegetable, fennel needs a fairly deep container, and will benefit from regular weeding nearby. Keep snipping the herby fronds off to use, they will regenerate over time. Dig up the bulbs and eat when they are a good size.
Tarragon is a popular herb for flavoring chicken and fish dishes. Like fennel, it has a somewhat aniseed flavor. Tarragon is perhaps best known for flavouring a sauce Bernaise, popularly served with steaks.
Vinegar flavoured with tarragon is an excellent use of this delicate herb, and is lovely sprinkled on cooked new potatoes, or as a light salad dressing.
How to grow Tarragon:
Tarragon is one of the three primary herbs used in French cuisine, and it’s best propagated from seed or cuttings in the early spring. The plants may be transplanted outside with confidence after all danger of frost has passed.
French tarragon should be grown in a sunny, warm region with well-drained soil. It may also be maintained in pots.
French Tarragon is one of the most easy-care herbaceous perennials, requiring little upkeep once established. Simply snip the leaves as needed, and they’ll grow back in no time.
Parsley is a useful herb – overused as a garnish but fantastic in its rightful place. My favourite use for parsley is in the sauce of a fish pie, where it imparts a complimentary, slightly grassy flavour to the richness of the white sauce and creamy potato. It is generally complementary to white fish dishes, as its robust flavour brings the mild flavour of the fish to life.
How to grow Parsley:
Parsley and coriander are similar in that they’re best cultivated from seed. Parsley should be grown indoors as soon as the soil can be worked in early spring and transplanted outdoors once the danger of frost has passed.
Parsley prefers a sunny position in well-drained soil. It also thrives in pots. Sucessional sewing is helpful with a popular herb such as parsley. As the growing season progresses, plant a few more seeds every week or so, to make sure you don’t run out as the summer goes on.
Parsley requires very little care once it has grown. The leaves may be cut as needed, and they will regenerate.
Rosemary is a common herb, often used to enhance lamb dishes. Running your hands through a rosemary bush and enjoying the Mediterranean scents wafting up from it is truly a pleasure.
As a woody herb, Rosemary is more robust than some of the tender plants we have already covered. It is easy to dry the needles for use throughout the year. Once dried it is also possible to pulverise the needles to make small flakes of rosemary to sprinkle onto dishes to enhance flavours.
How to grow Rosemary:
Rosemary may be grown from seed, but it is not one of the easiest! Taking cuttings from an actively growing plant is usually the most successful way to propagate a rosemary bush.
Rosemary is happiest in full sunlight, though can do well in partial shade, and requires a well-drained location. Like other Mediterranean herbs such as thyme and oregano, it thrives in a poor soil, so no need to fuss over your compost too much.
It may be cultivated in containers very successfully, in fact this might be preferable as rosemary can grow to very large proportions. If you are low on space, keeping it in a pot might stop it from taking over other areas of your garden!
It takes very little attention once planted; simply snip the leaves as needed, and they will grow back. It will need pruning back at least once a year to avoid it growing too large and woody.
Sage is a common seasoning for meats and poultry. It has a robust, pungent flavor and is delicious particularly with pork, or cooked in butter to serve as a simple pasta sauce. Deep fried sage leaves are a fabulous garnish to many dishes.
How to grow Sage:
Sage is another one of those herbs is tricky to grow from seed. It’s best cultivated from a seedling or a cutting, which should be started indoors or in a greenhouse in the early spring. When the danger of frost has passed, the plants may be transplanted outdoors.
Sage prefers bright, sunny conditions and well-drained soil. It grows well in pots.
Sage is a hardy plant that requires virtually no care once established. The leaves may be cut as needed, and they will regenerate. It is a perennial plant so is likely to regrow year upon year as long as the weather isn’t too extreme and it is watered well during dry periods.