Herb Gardening

Written by Sarah Provost
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Herbs are among the easiest plants to grow, and make a very satisfying garden. There are many varieties to choose from, both annuals and perennials. They can also be very decorative.

A Basic Culinary Herb Garden

For a basic collection of cooking herbs, ask yourself first, what do you usually use? If you don't care for cilantro, for instance, don't plant it! Select the herbs that you commonly use in their dried forms, then add one or two more that you are less familiar with.

Parsley, basil, oregano and thyme are among the most common kitchen herbs. Give parsley lots of room--you won't believe how big it can get! The most important thing about basil is to keep it pinched back so it doesn't flower. Once it flowers, the flavor can be bitter. Rosemary and sage are also common. (Have you ever fried fresh sage leaves in butter and tossed them with pasta? Yum!) Then, if you have space, add in the more exotic herbs, such as lemon verbena, chamomile, coriander, fennel and borage.

Herb gardens can range from a simple patch outside the kitchen door to a very formal "knotted" garden. Rosemary and lavender are shrub-like and should be planted near the back of a rectangular patch or the center of a round garden. Plant the others with a mind to the contrast between fleshy leaves such as sage and delicate, lacy leaves such as oregano. Herbs can also be attractively grown in a jardiniere, a large urn-shaped clay pot with pockets to hold individual plants.

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