I'm a foodie along with being a plant lover, I love to cook and bake and be in the kitchen. So of course there is a direct connection between the two. Gardening and cooking go hand in hand and usually that means our thoughts turn towards vegetables, but what would be a recipe without flavor from herbs?
By default every year I grow basil. I'm a huge fan of fresh pesto – if you've never had it I definitely recommend it. The store bought premade product just doesn't cut it compared with homemade pesto with fresh basil. Basil is great because it's one of those herbs that's really easy to grow in containers, you harvest leaves as you need and the plant just keeps on growing. I just harvest leaves as needed.
I've also had great success growing my own cilantro in containers. When growing cilantro keep it in a shadier cooler location especially during the heat of the summer. Cilantro has a habit of bolting (going to flower) when it gets really hot out. Interesting bit of trivia – what is the seed that is formed from cilantro? Coriander.
Some other top herbs for containers are:
- Parsley (soak the seeds for about 24 hours or at least over night before planting to increase germination rates)
- Mint ( you can grow this in the ground but only if you don't mind the Mint Monster – it will spread very readily in the ground)
You're best time to harvest herbs is in the early morning if you are wanting to preserve them for later use or any time as needed for use in immediate cooking.
Of course the question because how to convert dry ingredients to fresh equivalents for use in cooking.
1 Tbsp of fresh herbs = 1 tsp of dried herbs or ¼ - ½ tsp of powdered herbs
When trying to figure out what to grow, consider what you use a lot in your cooking already or challenge yourself to try something new. Growing herbs in containers is a great way if you are limited in space in your garden and you are more likely to utilize what you grow if they are closer to your kitchen door. My personal goal this year is to have any herbs I grow closer to my back door and to increase the amount of fresh herbs I use in my cooking.
For more information about growing herbs visit the University of Illinois Extension website Herb Gardening at http://extension.illinois.edu/herbs/