It’s Herb Season – Get Them Planted!

March 2nd, 2007 by Jeff in General Cooking

Yesterday I was looking out my picture window as the rain began to eat away at the awful white stuff on the ground.  Walking outside you could faintly smell it: Spring is a-comin.  I am more than ready to get out of the malaise of winter and back into the swing of summer.

My favorite part of the spring and summer is the fact that I do not have to rely on all those old herbs and spices I have in my pantry and can start using my fresh herbs.  Now I normally keep a few pots of the hardier herbs such as basil, cilantro, and parsley growing in pots inside by the window during the winter.  These herbs although still better than what you get in the store, are nowhere near as fresh as the ones grown outdoors.

Fresh herbs can take your great recipes and turn them into spectacular dishes.  Although there is a time and a place for dried herbs, you will get nowhere near the flavor you get with fresh.

So off I went to my local agricultural store and picked up some new seeds such as rosemary, mint, sage, thyme, etc..  I got them all planted and started with the hopes that in a couple weeks most will have germinated in their pots.

I try to use smaller plastic planters that will be large enough to hold the herbs through the season.  The lighter the pots the better because I like to be able to pick them up and bring them inside when I am cooking so I can tear the herbs at the moment I need them, ensuring they are at the peak of freshness.

Most seeds can be started by placing them in very damp soil and then covering the pot LOOSELY with a clear plastic wrap.  This keeps the moisture in the soil, yet still allows some air in the pot.  You do not want to put the plastic on too tight because if the soil cannot breath, you will get mold.  Keep the soil damp during germination so they get a good start.

After a week or two, you should see the sprouts starting out and as soon as the first leaves start to open, move them to an area with a lot of light.

When the temperature in your area gets to the point where there is no chance of a frost, start leaving them outside during the warmest part of the day.  Bring them in at night, for a few days until they are used to being outside.  You do not want to shock the plants.

At the end of the season, take your remaining herbs and either hang them to dry, or as I do, freeze them.  Frozen herbs work quite well for me, but some may not have the space for all those containers in their freezer.  Drying is fine.

If you feel your old recipes need something, try using fresh herbs, you will not be disappointed!


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