Get down and dirty in the garden
Last year, my wife and I moved into our first new house, and we were so excited that we could finally plant a garden. We didn’t know where to start, but one thing we were really interested in growing was herbs. While we usually use dried herbs when we cook, we try and use the fresh ones when possible. They just taste so much better!
We weren’t sure where to start, because we live in an area that's cold for quite a bit of the year. We were looking for something easy, and something that wouldn’t take up our entire yard if we planted it. We also wanted to make sure that we had something that we would actually eat. There's not much sense in planting lots of tarragon in your garden if you only eat it a few times a year.
We ended up planting a few of our favorites in the summer season, and it was so nice to have them. Here's what we started with:
• Mint: This is one of our favorites as we can put it in our lemonades, tea and some pasta dishes that we make in the summer. Mint is fairly easy to grow, too, as it needs morning sun and afternoon shade. Be careful though, as mint can quickly get out of hand.
• Cilantro: We frequently use cilantro in our rice and beans, and the stuff grows well in our area of the country as well. This year, our cilantro got a bit out of hand, and we had way more than we knew what to do with by the end of the season. If this happens to you, you can cut up your cilantro and stuff it into an ice cube tray with a bit of water. Freeze it and you'll have cilantro cubes, which you can toss into the recipe when it calls for cilantro. The water will melt off, and you'll have fresh cilantro in the winter.
• Parsley: I wasn’t sure what we were going to do with this at the end of the year, but we found quite a few ways to use it. One of our favorites was a parsley pesto that we made. It was shockingly tasty and very easy to make with all of our leftovers from the season. It's even friendly if you'd like to home can it as well.
• Basil: Another favorite, we will most likely be planting more of this next year. We use this on pizza frequently, and it goes in many other dishes we make as well. Another herb that grows relatively easy, basil was difficult for us to mess up.
After our successes last year we are planning on planting more herbs in the garden, and considering getting a planter for the porch to fill as well. Herbs seem to cost so much in the grocery store and are so cheap and fun to produce at home.
Jeff started the website sustainablelifeblog.com in 2009 to talk about sustainability and chronicle his journey to a more sustainable life. He currently resides in Wyoming with his wife and dog.