Herbs For All Seasons

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner
Herbs For All Seasons

Don’t you just love herbs?

For the price of a few seeds, you can have ten or twenty times the herbal goodness of those wilted leaves in the little, plastic box from the grocery store.

Take basil for example. This year, I grew four types, and if I’d had the space, I could have grown so many more. My personal favorites are:

  • ‘Genovese’ with its large, fleshy leaves just begging for a marinara sauce;
  • Thai ‘Siam Queen’ which blooms purple on small plants and gives Thai cuisine its classic, one-two, punch;
  • ‘Mrs. Burns’ Lemon,’ a burst of sunshine at first bite; and
  • ‘Purple Petra’ grown for its deep, purple leaves. Although most people grow herbs in a vegetable garden, they can liven up a perennial border too, and ‘Purple Petra’ proves it.
Thai-basil-and-peppers-Fiskars

If I didn’t continue to grow at least some herbs in winter, I’d miss them more than I can say. So, before the final freeze, I’ll take paper envelopes out to the vegetable garden and shake seeds from each of my favorite plants into them and label. Don’t use plastic bags to store your seeds even if you’re tempted. Paper is best because of it breathes. Sure, pollinators may have helped my basil cross pollinate creating plants a bit different from last year’s crop, but that’s part of the fun.

Dill and fennel also sport plenty of seeds for the saving.

fennel-fiskars

Other herbs I consistently grow are thyme, parsley, rosemary and sage. All of them overwinter here pretty consistently. When I roast a chicken or make a sauce, I can run outdoors to the potager/vegetable garden and harvest a bit of what’s growing for the pot. Once spring arrives, I clip back the thyme, sage and rosemary and wait for the parsley to do its bolting act the first, truly warm spring day. In the meantime, I’ve already sown seeds--which take awhile to come up--and I’ve procured a few herb plants for the caterpillars and me.

In winter, you can grow herbs in a cold frame or a hoop house, or you can sow seeds indoors. It takes awhile for them to sprout, so I would start now. Inside, they might not achieve the same level of growth, but you can still harvest basil, dill, and parsley, among others, from your windowsill. If you don’t have extra seeds, most nurseries have kits with basic varieties.

Last week, I bought a kit for my mom and sister so they could enjoy a bit of green in the winter, and because they aren’t gardeners I’ll plant it for them. When you sow seeds for others, you are giving them the best the earth offers, and they can’t help but be pleased. The actual cost and a size of a seed is so small . . . yet, within, there is a world of goodness simply for the sowing. Why don’t you sow some seeds yourself today?