Friday, April 3, 2009

An Herb for Every Pot

Herbs, in my oh-so-very-humble opinion, are what "makes" a dish. Chicken stock, for me, isn't complete without a bay leaf or two. Ever had salsa without cilantro?!? Not the same. Where would your Thanksgiving turkey be without the classic thyme and sage combo? They instantly make anything taste better without adding fat or calories. In short, they are a wonder seasoning. And for that, you pay the price!

With glass jars of rosemary hovering around $4 and a bunch of fresh cilantro over $2 (i.e., highway robbery!), what's a cook to do? Grow the damn things yourself. Herbs work wonderfully in containers for those without a yard and of course are fine in ground for those that do. You can start them from seeds for dirt cheap (a pack of 25+ seeds costs 1/4 of the price of a jar of the dried leaves), propagate from cuttings from a friend (free!!) or buy a plant for less than what you'd pay for a few sprigs at the grocery store. There's an herb for every location...and every container.

The following herbs are almost all available (with multiple varieties) from DeBaggio's, an herb nursery I hope to visit soon!

Herbs for Shade:
And in this context, I'm meaning, dappled light, not a total void of light. Part of this depends on your climate. In extreme tropical climates, basil might do best with a fair amount of shade-- otherwise it'd get burnt by the intense sun. More examples can be found here. Note: Often this means the herbs will tolerate the low light level. You'll get better yields with more light.

Anise hyssop

Lemon balm
Sweet Woodruff

Herbs for Part-Sun/Part-Shade:
By this I mean 4-6 hours of sunlight per day. Again, this can depend highly on where you are. I'm talking mostly about north Mid-Atlantic. If you're on the low end of the light requirements, you may be able to grow shade-tolerate herbs in addition to these. If you're on the high end, then maybe some of the full-sun herbs will work out (but they probably won't produce like they would in full sun).


Herbs for Full Sun:
By this I mean 6-8 hours of sunlight per day. Again, whether or not these herbs will work in full-sun light conditions this can depend highly on where you are. I'm talking mostly about north Mid-Atlantic. In general, most herbs thrive in full sun & just tolerate everything else, so the above part-sun will likely work for you too!

Lemon balm

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