| Feb 07, 2008

Feature Article - February 7, 2008

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Master Gardeners - February 7, 2008 Growing and Preserving Herbs Dale Odorizzi, Lanark County Master Gardeners

Herbs add interest and enjoyment to our cooking. They are easy to grow and are very prolific. Some herbs are annuals, others are perennial and still others are grown from bulbs. I tend to grow the annuals in my vegetable garden and the perennials in the flower gardens. Most herbs are easy to grow from seed. Start them 4-6 weeks before you plant them outside. If you use seeds to grow your herbs, you can get a very wide variety of each type of herb. For example, one seed catalogue has over 16 types of Basil. Herb plants are also available at many garden centres. Herbs like lots of sun and well drained soil.

To freezing herbs, whirl herbs with a bit of oil in a food processor and then freeze in ice cube trays. When frozen, put herb ice cubes in a bag for use as needed. When you take your “Herb Cube” from the freezer, it will keep for about 1 week in the Refrigerator. Once you have used your ice cube tray to freeze herbs, do not use again for making regular ice cubes as they will taste of the herb. To dry herbs, cut off branches, tie together in small bundles and hang upside down in an airy place until it dries. You can also use a dehydrator. Once dry store in air tight container.

The following provides some tips on growing and preserving my favourite herbs.

Basil (A) grows easily from seed. Use your basil all season long. The more you use, the better it grows. Basil can be dried but will turn black, much like basil you buy at the grocery store. Freeze or make into a Pesto and freeze.

Chives (P) can grow from seed or divide from an existing clump. Cut back to ground when the leaves turn brown. Chop into short pieces and dry in hydrator or on a screen.

Cilantro (A) or Coriander Leaves are cilantro and seeds are coriander. Grows easily from seed. Freeze leaves. Dry seeds when ready. Use seed whole in pickles or ground in dishes.

Dill (A) grows easily from seed. Dry.

Garlic (Bulb) plant bulbs in October. Harvest in July when about half the leaves have died down. Leave in the sun for a few days to mature. Hang bulbs to dry or use the freezer approach. No oil is necessary.

Mint (P) BEWARE—Grow in a container as this spreads wildly. Dry or Freeze.

Oregano (P) grows from seed or buy a plant. Drying is best for this herb.

Parsley (P) grows easily from seed. Dry

Rosemary (A) in our region, this is a annual. May overwinter indoors. Dry.

Sage (P) grow from division although it will grow from seeds but one plant likely enough. Dry.

Savory Summer (A) grows well from seed. Best Dried.

Savory Winter (P) grows well from seed. Stronger flavour than Summer Savory. Dry.

Thyme (P) grows well from seed. Dry.

For more gardening information phone Renai Rennick 613 267-7272

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