Culinary Herbs in Our Garden
This is my site Written by Geoff on July 1, 2007 – 6:53 pm

We have been growing herbs for over 20 years here in Michigan. Actually our son Geoff got us started when we lived in Omaha, Nebraska. He was in grade school at the time and was looking for something relatively easy to grow yet still rewarding. One thing lead to another and he soon had a 200 square foot herb garden. He grew most of the culinary herbs, such as, Sweet Basil, Greek Oregano, Sage, Thyme, Sweet Marjoram, Fennel, Chives, and Rosemary. 

When selecting a site you must consider drainage. Most herbs will not grow in wet soils. We built raised beds and installed underground drainage tiles in Omaha. Herbs, also, need a sunny location as the flavor oils are produced best when plants receive six to eight hours of full sunlight. 

Herbs will grow in any good neutral garden soil with average organic matter. In fact, most herbs do not do well in highly fertile soils as they tend to produce excessive foliage with poor flavor. When Geoff prepared the bed, he added 10-12 bushels of peat moss per 100 square feet, although compost would work just as well. Peat improves the soil condition and helps it retain moisture. 

Once established, herbs require minimal care. Quite frankly, we never had to water them, even during the driest times. Just an occasional application of compost at the beginning of the growing season kept them going. Pest were never a problem and weeding was seldom required. 

When we moved from Nebraska to Michigan we dug up most the herbs and brought them along. With the exception of Sweet Basil, the following original herbs still grow today in our garden. 

Fennel, a hardy, perennial, will grow in most any soil. Seeds should be sown directly in the garden in the late Spring. Be warned, the plant will self-sow generously. Use the leaves with pork, veal and fish. 

Sweet Marjoram, may be grown from seed or started from Summer cuttings. Use fresh or dried leaves in salads, dressings, meat, sausage, lamb dishes, beans and soups. To keep the plants neat, cut out all dead wood and remove dead flowers and stalks. 

Sweet Basil, is an annual herb used in tomato sauce, pesto and salads. Basil grows best in full sun and rich, moist soil. Sow seeds indoors in spring and transplant them after all danger of frost is past, or sow outdoors when temperatures are reliably warm. 

Rosemary is an attractive evergreen shrub with pine needle-like leaves. Propagate from cuttings of the non-flowering branches in early summer. Rosemary can also be grown from seed. Choose a sheltered position and well-drained soil and lots of sun. It is used on meats, stews, sauces, and soups. 

Greek Oregano, is a perennial widely used in Italian dishes, tomato sauce, pizza, fish and salad dressing It is easy to grow, we recommend propagating by cuttings in the Summer. 

Common Thyme’s leaves are used to season meats, poultry, stews, sauces, soups and dressings. It should be planted in full sun for best flavor. 

Common Sage, a familiar plant in the home garden, is used in sausages, poultry, meat, bread, dressings, vegetables, omelettes and stuffing. You can never have enough Sage. 

There is nothing like the taste imparted by fresh herbs, although if done correctly, dry herbs are very good. We would not know what to do without our herb garden.

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Modified: March 7, 2009 at 6:55 pm GMT-0800

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