Use One of These Four Simple Garden Designs to Grow Kitchen Herbs

Why look any farther for fresh flavors than your very own garden? A culinary garden can be the ultimate inspiration for budding cooks and gourmet chefs alike. Like any recipe, start your kitchen garden with the basics.

Our garden designs feature these kitchen herbs: basil, chives, cilantro, dill, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon and thyme.

The stunning flavors of culinary herbs make them star players in a healthy diet, and the best way to make the most of big-flavor herbs is to grow them yourself. This article includes plans for four herb garden designs, each of which can fit into a 12-square-foot area, to help you make the best use of space near your kitchen door. See Top 12 Kitchen Herbs for more on the featured herbs: basil, chives, cilantro, dill, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon and thyme.

You could grow kitchen herbs in a geometrical design dating from the days of medieval monasteries if you like, but there are easier ways to include culinary herbs in your landscape design. By following a few basic guidelines and choosing to grow the herbs you’re most likely to use, you can grow a generous supply of kitchen herbs in a surprisingly small space. Add some container herbs that are marginally hardy or prone to crowding out other plants, and you’re well on your way to a gourmet herb garden.

The first and most important step is to grow your herbs as close as possible to your kitchen door. “Accessing your kitchen herbs should be as easy as going to your pantry for the dried version,” says V.J. Billings, who grows herb plants by the thousands at Mountain Valley Growers in Squaw Valley, Calif. To find great places to grow herbs, simply walk out your back door and survey every space within 20 paces that gets at least a half day of full sun. As you plan, consider the times you will dash out to grab a handful of chives, dill or basil when it’s raining or something on the stove needs your attention. Having your herbs within easy reach of a walkway or well-placed steppingstones can also make a big difference.

Herbs need average or better soil and good drainage, but they are generally not as demanding as vegetables and flowers. With kitchen herbs, it’s better to make use of a convenient location than to move away from the house in search of better soil.

Choosing Herbs

By now you probably have visions of your favorite cooking herbs dancing in your head. Gayle Sathre-Zimmerman, owner of Blossom Farm in Columbia Station, Ohio, suggests including a variegated plant, or one with dark leaves, to enhance the visual appeal of your herb garden. Thyme, sage and mint come in variegated versions, and basil varieties with deep purple leaves are as flavorful as those with green leaves.

Also be on the lookout for varieties with unusual textures and forms. For example, ‘Berggarten’ sage has broad, velvety gray-green leaves that give it a luminous presence in an herb garden.

Several of the top culinary herbs, such as dill, basil and cilantro, are fast-growing annuals whose seeds can be easily sown directly in the garden. Most other cooking herbs are hardy perennials that come back every year. Perennial herbs can be grown from seed, too, but the seedlings require several months to reach picking size. Some herbs …

Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/garden-designs-kitchen-herbs-zmaz06onzraw.aspx

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