The Happy Herb Gardener

by Claire Minnaar


There are few things quite as satisfying as cultivating plant life. Now you’ll agree that as a Mom there’s never much time to get down and dirty in a vegetable garden when your own sprouts are in need of ‘this for school’ and ‘that for hockey’. A small kitchen or patio herb garden, however, is certainly manageable and the benefits are endless:

  1. Is there ever time to just quickly nip out to the store and get a pinch of this and a pinch of that? No. So start a herb garden!
  2. The satisfaction of growing and using your own herbs is unmeasurable.
  3. Herbs are just as lovely, if not lovelier, than an ordinary house plant, with the added bonus that you (and any roaming toddlers) can eat them of course.

And now for a handful of herb tips to get you going:

  • Some herbs, like mint for instance, tend to take over the garden. Growing them in containers however means that their growth is, well, contained.
  • Avoid pesticides when plants are in flower to not only protect bees but also keep from contaminating your herbs (and in essence your dishes).
  • Herb foliage is at its most potent before the plant begins to flower and set seed.
  • Harvest your herbs regularly so the plants can continue to sprout new leaves.
  • To capture the seeds of the plant, tie a small paper bag over the “head” in which the seeds can fall.
  • You can either hang dry herbs or freeze them. Frozen herbs tend to have a fresher flavour than dried.
  • If you are picking herbs to freeze or dry, harvest early in the day before it gets too hot.
  • Avoid using too much fertiliser – the flavour of the herb tends to concentrate when growing in leaner conditions.
  • Plant your herbs in an area that gets about 6 hours of sun per day.
  • Keep the fresh pots of herbs close at hand in the kitchen to encourage yourself to use it more often in cooking.

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