Add Some Color, Flavor and Worldy Variety to your Herb Garden this Year!
“However many years she lived, Mary always felt that ‘she should never forget that first morning when her garden began to grow’.”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden
After you get your standard sweet basil, dill, oregano, parsley, cilantro and mint going do you find yourself wanting to embark on a little bit of an herb garden adventure, maybe kick it up a notch, but don’t know where to start? I definitely understand your dilemma. When faced with literally hundred of herb type, flavor and varieties, how do you choose what to plant in the little space you have left for your herb adventure garden!?
You’ve mastered the basics of starting herbs from seed and you want to grow some herbs with exotic flavor and international intrigue. Here are five herbs that will rock your herb garden world. These are temperate-climate herbs that are suitable to grow in North America, although transplanting times and growing seasons vary by region. Are you ready to grow an even more fragrant garden? Are you excited to introduce new flavors to your cooking? Here we go!
Epazote: Epazote is difficult to find in American supermarkets, but it is a dominant herb in Mexican cooking. Epazote, also known as Chenopodium ambrosioides, Mexican Tea, Wormseed, Jesuit’s Tea, or Herba Sancti Maria, is native to Central America, South America, and southern Mexico.
Epazote is a leafy vegetable and herb that is used for its pungent flavor. Raw, the smell is similar to anise, fennel, or tarragon, but much stronger. Epazote’s fragrance is strong, but difficult to describe. It has been compared to citrus, petroleum, savory, mint and camphor. Though it is delicious, it is an invasive plant that should be planted in containers away from other plants. It grows with minimal maintenance in hot, dry climates. At once peppery and minty, epazote will add a delicious and authentically Mexican flavor to beans and stews. Medicinally, it is said to reduce flatulence.
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French Sorrel is an easy to grow richly lemon flavored green herb. This mildly acidic herb, has long been praised throughout Europe, especially in France where it enjoys its greatest popularity.Sorrel is a very ancient herb, its name is derived from the Teutonic word for “sour”. Ancient species of sorrel were extensively used in pharaonic Egypt and garden sorrel, is still frequently found in modern Egyptian cooking. The ancient Greeks and Romans respected the herb for its role in promoting digestion and considered it a good complement to rich, fatty meals.
Sorrel leaves are rich in potassium and vitamins C and A. In cooking, sorrel is generally pureed and can be a perfect base for sauces that accompany poached eggs and fish. This herb is used in mixed green salads, sandwiches, omelets, and with soft cheeses, veal, pork, and fish. Be careful to cut it only with stainless steel knives and refrain from cooking it in metal pots, because the high acidity of sorrel causes them to discolor.
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The spicy-sweet flavor and showy purple color of Cinnamon basil make it one of the most popular basils.
Cinnamon basil has a strong cinnamon scent and sweet flavor. This basil pairs nicely with other fruity flavored herbs. You can add Cinnamon basil to your apple pie fillings, and it tastes great added to an apple sauce or raisin sauce for pork or ham. It is also great for a refreshing summer tea.
The leaves of this basil can be used fresh in cooking or dried in tomato dishes, pasta sauces, vegetables and soups. You can also put them in bottles of olive oil to make cinnamon-flavored oil. This oil is a fovorite for frying apples or bananas.
As with all basils, you can also use this basil in the garden as a natural insecticide to repel aphids, mites, and tomato horn worms.
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Lemon Balm is native of southern Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa. It’s botanical name Melissa, comes from the Greek name for Bee and refers to the great attraction the plant holds for the Bee.
Lemon Balm is in the mint family and as the name implies, the herb smells like lemon. The scent of this easy to grow herb is strongest when you rub the leaves, but the scent will be lost after being stored for several months.
Lemon Balm is said to raise the spirit and comfort the heart. In ancient times Lemon Balm was planted by ones front door to drive away evil spirits. It was also used to draw bees to the hive.
Uses for Lemon Balm include: Fresh leaves can be chopped and added to green salads, fruits salads, marinated vegetables, poultry stuffing, and fish marinades and sauces. It goes well with broccoli, asparagus, lamb, fish, and shellfish.. Dried Lemon Balm is popular for use in potpourris and sachets.
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Horehound or hoarhound is a genus of about 40 species of flowering plant in the family Lamiaceae, native to temperate regions of Europe and Asia. Three of the more sought after varieties of Horehound are:
White Horehound: Used as a cough remedy from the time of the Egyptians to the present day. This horehound herb is still included in the Austrian and Hungarian pharmacopoeias as an expectorant, and remains popular in folk medicine.
Wooly Horehound: Silvery white wooly leaves of this variety of horehound make this a great addition to the moon garden or for contrasting texture and color in the perennial garden. Produces an abundance of flower spikes.
Pleated Horehound: An unusual variety of horehound with soft deeply pleated lime-green leaves and small red-violet flowers. Attractive ornamental.
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I hope you are feeling inspired to branch out and try something new and exciting in your herb garden this year!
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