Herb Garden Basics

Reprinted with permission from Thrifty Times (original link:http://thriftytimes.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=197)

Cooking from scratch is a basic rule to being thrifty. You can control ingredients and lower harmful additives and sugars and increase flavor. In our house we use herbs constantly. With a little effort you can grow your own herbs insuring high flavor for little to no cost.
Some herbs can be grown from seeds but some have low germination rates and are best grown from plants. Besides the typical “Italian” herbs such as rosemary, parsley, basil and thyme you can grow a variety of herbs. There are a variety of mints, sage, chives and more.
In order to help you get started I have listed some websites that are full of information (instead of advertisements and affiliate links!) to help you get started with your herb garden.

American Botanical Council http://abc.herbalgram.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Herbal_Library
Herb Society of America http://www.herbsociety.org/
Half Barrel Herb Garden http://web.extension.illinois.edu/greenline/i1328_384.html#10
Window Herb Gardening in Florida http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/giam/plants_and_grasses/herbs/window_herb_gardens.html

Any help or ideas on herb gardening? Chime in.


I have a black thumb, but I think cumin would be an excellent choice, because it's supposed to be easy to grow and you can grow it indoors if you have a sunny window to set it in. :)

Another reason I think cumin is a good choice is because you can't make good homemade chili without it. Taco meat also needs cumin.

I think I'm going to try to plant a few things this year.....tomatoes, because you can't get good tomatoes in a store. Tomatoes are also great for adding flavor to vegetable beef soup!
I don't think we grow cumin although we use it.

Herbs I know we have/will have are:
Basil (at least two types), bay, chives, coriander, lemon balm, lemon verbena, mint (various), parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme.

Some like the bay and mints (watch them btw, they can take over!) are well established but what we tend to wind up with with the annuals is a sort of random scattering of pots. We are planning on using one of the pen parts of the old pigsties this year and either getting some staging or making some sort of shelves to house them. The pots will go on trays to make watering easier. A lot of pots are already there, some logs to shift first, etc...




Do you use any of these to make teas? My mother used to make tea from the herbs she grew. She stored the dry herbs in cylinder shaped, wax coated boxes. I've thought about doing that with peppermint and spearmint. I wonder if camomile is easy to grow..... I need to grow plants that are easy to grow and hard to kill, otherwise I'm wasting my time. LOL
Hmm and looking at that page... must have another go at watercress some time. It's always been a bit hit and miss with us but I love the stuff.
We use mint for tea. You have to be careful though. Either wash it with a solution with a minute amount of bleach, or drink it right away, or make it with boiling water. But it is good!

We love herbs. But right now in PA, USA it is still COLD! Everything is in my laundry room in front of windows waiting for the sun to come out.
I suppose it's a bit of a funny time here in Norfolk, UK. Night time tonight is 8C/46F and its been sunny and quite pleasant outside today but I think you really need to see April out before the risk of a hard ground frost clears. There is a bit of the temptation of planting out early vs playing safe.


I'm not sure what the temp here was but today was BEAUTIFUL!!! I live in the windiest part of the state and there was no breeze that I could feel. Although the windmills were turning slowly.

I am going to buy some herb seeds (you guys talked me in to it) and some tomatoes I can start them in the house and move them to the deck, later.

Another thing I want to buy is raspberry and blackberry bushes. It's fun to eat them right off the bush.
I think I'll start our tomatoes in the propagator in about 2 weeks time.

We have three varieties of raspberries in our main row of canes. Sort of early, mid and late season cropping. Better than having them all ripen more or less at once.

We don't grow blackberries but there is a second row of old pigsties further down the field that are covered in brambles. Can get some good pickings there. There is also blackthorn there so not that my mother has made any in years (and doesn't drink herself) we could have sloe gin.


My mother used to make homemade wine, beer and rootbeer! It only takes one time getting a mouthful of yeast to learn not to take the last sip!!!! There always seemed to be one bottle of rootbeer in the batch that had yeast settled in the bottom. I wonder if that happened with the beer, too?

Anyway, dandelion wine was everyone's favorite. My mother used to have wonderful parties in our basement at the sawmill.
You'll get a sediment with beer. Can't say I've ever had root beer but homemade wines, yes. I used to live somewhere where there were masses of cowslips. That wine was quite drinkable. Also, that garden had an inedible plum tree. Plums made a reasonable wine though. Oh and elderflower and elderberry wines. Got a fair bit of elder here too although mum usually makes it into elderflower cordial these days.


Rootbeer was fun for us kids! Mom set the corked bottles in the sun on the back porch to work. The corks would pop out making loud bangs. There is nothing better than homemade rootbeer. I think it's the yeast. There's that ever so slight flavor of yeast that doesn't seen to be in factory bottled rootbeer. You just lose something wonderful with carbon dioxide gas.


Dang, I wish you lived nearby in the USA, it would be fun to get together to make some of these things!!!!

I should plan on making rootbeer this summer with the kids. I think they would have fun.
It would be, although you'd probably do better with my mother as she is the real gardener and maker of things here. Her mother (who died when I was about 7) would have been really interesting. She really was the old country type who knew all the things in the hedgerow, woods, etc.