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Herb Garden in a Pot
1. Select the size of pot you wish to use according to the space you have available. Be sure to get a stoneware pot with drainage holes in the bottom. At your local garden center you may be able to fine plastic “terra cotta” like pots. If you plan to paint or decorate the pots to match your décor you will find these pots a good decorating surface for your creativity. Any size or shape will work.
2. Paint the pot to match your kitchen or patio. Use any design that appeals to you and will contribute a cheery addition to your window.
3. Select the herbs you are familiar with and that you will use in your culinary efforts. Thyme, sage, mint, etc. are good to start with.
4. Plant according to the seed packet instructions in good potting soil. (if you are late getting started with this project – or is you are over anxious just purchase the plants already growing from the local nursery.)
5. Plan the herbs in tiny rows if you are using a rectangle pot, or in a circle if using a round pot.
6. Be sure to mark where you have planted each herb, as you may not recognize it when it starts to grow. Later on you will be able to identify your plants by their aromatic odors.
7. Be Patient! Some herbs take several weeks to mature. Remember to give them plenty of sunshine and loving care.
8. When they have reached maturity, be sure to keep the plants pruned for continual growth. When cooking with fresh herbs, use only 1/3 the amount as called for in the recipes, since the taste is stronger.
You can garnish plates, mince, chop or add whole parsley to many soups, salads, etc. pretty up a glass of lemonade with a leaf of mint. A small amount of basil or one leave of sage will go a long way in seasoning a dressing or a soup. You may find it easier to cut your salt intake when you learn to use herbs and spices as seasonings.
To dry herbs, cut and wash them and hang them up to dry in a cool, dark place. If you live in a humid climate, you may find it easier to dry herbs in the oven (set on “warm”). When dried, remove the leaves and discard the large stems. Store your herbs in tins or opaque containers with tight fitting lids, since both light and air will quickly rob them of their flavors. You can blend dried herbs such as sage in a blender, or simply rum between fingers when adding them to foods.
As you work with herbs, you will become more adventurous and try new ones, and perhaps even do some reading and experimenting on medicinal teas and home remedies (check out a book from the library). You will find there is good nutrition in herbs.
Some herbs make good ground cover, especially in areas where other flowers and plants may not survive. Many herbs make terrific natural “pest control” on vegetable gardens. Check at your local nursery or the library for more information on uses for herbs.
For a unique potpourri, add some fragrant or aromatic herbs to your mixture of floral potpourri.
One last thought:
Many herbs can easily outgrow their original pots in a short time. At maturity, some herbs can grow as high as 4-6 feet and others can spread over large areas.
Enjoy this opportunity to add some spice to your life and herbs your foods.
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