It’s early spring in the gardening world and right now, as long a you don’t have cold frame crops, you are likely only going to be getting greens and herbs. In my garden I have lettuce, spinach and kale on the greens side and then TONS of herb. I’m going to talk about herbs because they’re a little more difficult to find uses for. I mean, with greens you can make a salad any old day.
Get ready for some serious gardening talk!
I’m going to start out with a photo of my herb garden. Everything in my garden is either a perennial or a re-seed so I’ll explain how that works. I labeled my garden because there isn’t really a view of it that makes everything clear.
Excuse all the debris, we had a crazy storm and I have Silver Maple in my front yard that poops all the time with leaves, seeds, flower and even branches. Right before the storm we had some crazy wind and a big branch bounced off our roof and freaked the dog, the baby and me out. I jumped, the dog barked, and the baby cried.
Anyway, my garden is about twelve feet long and two feet wide I pretty much cram as much as I can in there. I’m going to first talk about how to plant your garden and get the most out of it.
Planting Your Herb Garden
First you want to be sure your soil is the proper consistency. Most herbs love a soil with good drainage so if you have any clay or ‘heavy’ soil you’ll want to add potting soil, sand or mix in compost with a lot of leaves to loosen things up.
Aside from your first year of gardening (which you should plant in the spring), I highly recommend planting your herbs in the fall if you’re in zone six. The first year of my herb garden I planted everything in the spring and then the next spring I only had to plant herbs like basil, that will never make it through the winter because so many of my herbs wintered well, or went to seed and came up on it’s own. If you look at the photo of my garden you’ll notice a spot that says ’empty space for basil’, that is the only herb I’ll be planting this year since everything else was either wintered easily or reseeded.
Here is a cilantro plant that wintered for me. Which means it lived all throughout the winter, without dying or really growing.
As soon as the weather starts getting warmer and wetter it has a massive growth spurt and gets huge and harvestable almost immediately. The next photo is a cilantro plant that grew from seed planted this year.
I like to have a few rotations going so that I plant seeds while one rotation is just hitting maturity. That way when the mature rotation goes to seed and is no longer edible, the second rotation is ready to harvest. You can plant these seeds in the fall to get a head start too.
Here are some other plants that wintered well for me this year.
Very tart and great in juices or salads.
Good in sauces, salsas, mashed potatoes, soups and more! Very versatile and winters GREAT. Comes back with doubled size and is harvestable almost as soon as the weather turns.
Has the licorice flavor and is wonderful in marinades and glazes. This was the first time it wintered for me so I’d say it’s relatively hardy here in zone six. It came back several times the size though!
Sage is great for stuffing, obviously, and you can add it to any savory herb rub or mix. This plant is four years old and HUGE.
Fennel is wonderful in marinades also but it’s mild enough to add to salads and dips too.
So those are the herbs that I’ve got going right now. This is the first year that I’ve had so many come back. I can’t WAIT to get basil but I have to be patient! A couple more weeks…..
Next week I’ll be featuring greens but I’ll be taking photos of the salads, juices and other foods to show you how they’re made.
Hopefully this has been a little helpful to you. And until next time, this has been part 1 of Use it or Lose it!
EDIT: I’m so sorry that I didn’t get this out yesterday but we randomly decided to visit my family and didn’t get home til late!