Start a Herb Garden

I love to cook with fresh herbs. They have both amazing taste and health benefits. I grew tired of traveling to the store and purchasing overpriced and small portions of wilted herbs. I'm not rich and there are never coupons for fresh herbs. The stuff in the jar is not the same! Doesn't taste the same. No health benefits. Not as pretty in my dish.

So I decided enough was enough and I decided to make one finally trip to the store and never find myself without fresh herbs again. Plus having extra to mess around with. Endless supply of pesto, and extra rosemary to simply boil on the stove to scent the house.

First, you need to find something to plant your herbs in. You can use a pot, or you can choose a basket to add a different look and feel. When winter rolls around a basket looks better when I move it inside. Choose a fairly large one, the herbs will need room to spread.

Next, you want to add plastic wrap at the bottom. Layer it a few times. This prevents leakage. Now for the fun part. Take a screw driver and stab the crap out of the bottom. This adds drainage holes and relieves a bit of stress. If you want extra drainage, you can add a low level of river rocks or pebbles on top of the plastic wrap.

Add your soil. Find an organic nursery and find soil that is pure. I do not trust Miracle Grow for anything I eat. You hear about all the stuff they add to food and it's scary. Most people don't realize they are adding it to the soil as well. That's why things grow so fast and so much bigger. I like to add natural fertilizers. Try adding a bit of Epsom salt. This puts magnesium into the soil. I add crushed eggs shells once a week. It has always worked out very well for me.

If you buy any herbs from the store, they will come in these brown paper cup looking things. I've damaged many plants trying to get them out without reading the directions first. I'm not a directions kind of person. I dive in and hope for the best. Probably from spending too many years working around men. I've picked up their bad habits. First, you have to soak it in water for a few minutes. Then you start tearing it off to expose the roots. Try not to tear or damage the roots.

You have to remove all or as much paper as humanly possible. Once the roots are exposed, give the soil a good squeeze. This breaks things up and allows air in. You are now ready to plant in your basket.

The herbs you choose will be based or your prefernces and how you eat. If you are new to gardening and are afraid of reaching too far out on the limb start with basil. Basil is extremely forgiving. When I first started I killed everything including the basil. Somehow, it came back to life. It grows and spreads fast and there are fewer rules to keeping it.

Below is how I planted my basket. I will do individual posts on each herb to give as many tips for that particular herb as I can, to keep this post from getting too long.

My basket will include:
      - Basil
      - Rosemary
      - Flat leaf parsley
      - Italian parsley

Basil is very forgiving and a fast grower. Make sure when you plant the others you give basil plenty of room. He likes to stretch out.

When choosing a rosemary plant, spend the extra money and get as big of a plant as you can. Rosemary is a slow grower and will need time to figure out what it is supposed to do.

Plant them a few inches from the edges. It may not look like it here, but there are about 3 inches from the edge. 

On the left, I added my flat leaf parsley. On the right, the Italian parsley.

Growing a garden of any kind can have amazing anti-stress qualities. It forces you to slow down and stop thinking about whatever is going on around you. Have your children help you. I've found when children are involved in the growing and caring process they are more eager and willing to try new things. They seem to be more opened minded about what they are eating. Living out here in the country and speaking to the other moms, all kids you love vegetables have usually helped mom or a grandpa in a garden. Small herb gardening like this is a good way to ease yourself into it without the level of maintenance and commitment of a vegetable garden.

Check back later for instructions on how to actually grew these herbs. The best watering procedures, how to store them, what to do with them, and their health benefits. Plus posts on a few others.

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