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This herb is known around the world for its wonderful fragrance and flavor. The key ingredient in classic Italian pesto, Sweet Basil has big leaves that are fast and easy to grow so that you can make your own pesto to freeze for year-round use. It loves hot weather, so always wait until all danger of frost is past before planting in the garden in the spring, then harvest before the weather starts to cool down in fall. Great for containers, but be sure to keep watered. If you were to grow only one herb, this should probably be it. Dried basil just doesn’t have the aromatic quality of the fresh leaves, which are often added at the last minute to many Asian dishes. Organic varieties are only available at retailers.
A native of the Mediterranean region and member of the mint family, rosemary is a lovely, easy-to-grow plant with great culinary and ornamental value. A striking, upright evergreen shrub that is winter-hardy in zones 8 to 10, it fills the air with its fragrance as soon as you brush your hand across the leaves. The key to growing rosemary is a well-drained soil that stays evenly moist at first; as the plant takes root it becomes increasingly drought tolerant. It is also excellent for containers, which lets gardeners in colder climates to bring it indoors in the winter. Unlike most herbs, rosemary has a stronger flavor when fresh than when dried. Cut sprigs anytime for fresh use. Trim it regularly to encourage tender new stems or the plant will get woody. It's hard to have too much rosemary. The plant has so many uses that it will be enjoyed all the time. Just a few cut stems will fill a room with fragrance.
If you like the aromatic flavor of salsa served in Mexican restaurants, you'll like cilantro. The leaves have an instantly recognizable fragrance that fills a room when you cut them. Sometimes called Chinese parsley, its distinctive aroma and flavor is also part of Caribbean and Asian foods, lending flavor to recaito, salsas, curries, salads, chutneys, herbed butters, and meat marinades.Cilantro looks like flat leaf Italian parsley, but the leaves are thinner. It grows in a rosette of stemmy leaves that are ready to harvest shortly after planting. Young leaves have the best flavor, so be sure to harvest often. It is a fast-growing annual except in milder climates where it will overwinter. Cilantro grows tall and blooms at the end of its life, usually after the weather gets hot. After it blooms, harvest the seeds--they are what you buy in spice jars as coriander, another common ingredient in Asian cooking. You can grind the seeds or use them whole. Some gardeners also let the seeds drop to make new plants.Fall is a great time to grow cilantro in mild climates, as the plants are frost tolerant and love the cool weather in fall, winter, and early spring.Organic varieties are only available at retailers.
Italian Flat Parsley
This Italian flat-leafed parsley has, of course, flat leaves, which distinguish it from the better-known curly-leafed parsley. At first the foliage might be easily confused with cilantro. However, its flavor is distinctly parsley, and it is favored for its deep flavor, which some say holds up better in cooking than curly parsley. It is popular in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. Easy to chop, the nutritious flat leaves are high in iron and in vitamins A, C, and E. A high chlorophyll content makes it a natural breath sweetener, too. This is a great plant for containers, especially for fall and winter in zone 7 and south. Of course, you can also use it in vegetable and herb beds. In a flower bed it makes a nice, green leafy companion to small flowers such as pansies. It is also more tolerant of hot weather than curly parsley (which can struggle during the peak of summer) and is frost tolerant. Organic varieties are only available at retailers.
Mint is one of the easiest herbs to grow. This one has extra large leaves that most cooks really like for chopping into sauces and drinks. Our sweet mint is grown from cuttings of a variety that comes to us from Israel, where mint is used in many dishes, from lamb to yogurt sauce. We think you'll like the rich spearmint flavor of this variety. This plant can go a little crazy, though, so be careful or it can spread farther than you might like. For this reason many people grow it in a pot. The long stems can even be trained on a little wire trellis, especially in spots where a a bit of shade causes it to stretch. Keep pinched to encourage tender new leaves.Organic varieties are only available at retailers.
Sometimes known as the "fish herb" because it's such a delicious complement to fish, dill is used in many dishes, especially dips, soups, vinegars, and salads. Fernleaf is an improved, more compact variety of ordinary dill. A 1992 All-America Selections winner, this variety of dill continues to be a favorite for its garden performance and the fact that it offers a lot of foliage. It is also slower to set seed than ordinary dill varieties, which means that you can harvest foliage longer. As the flowers do appear, you can harvest the dill seed for making dill pickles or other dishes calling for dill seed. Dill leaves or seeds are used in the cooking of many cultures around the world.
Green Romaine Lettuce
This is the classic romaine. Its compact, dark green rosette of tall, upright leaves is slightly curly with white hearts and has a crisp, sweet flavor. Slow to bolt. Grows best in full sun, but will tolerate partial shade and even appreciates it in spring in hot climates. Organic varieties are only available at retailers.
Thyme is an easy and practical herb to grow. Highly aromatic, it enhances meat dishes, eggs, cheeses, soups, and sauces, and it is a primary component of both Bouquet Garni and Herbes de Provence. Use it to elevate the flavor of good ole' beef stew, too. This tiny-leaved thyme is among the most aromatic, more so than larger-leafed varieties. You may also hear it called winter thyme, because it is one of the most cold hardy of all the different thymes. The leaves are evergreen to semi-evergreen, depending on the how far North it is growing. In the warm, humid climates of zones 9 and 10 it may suffer in the summer; in zone 10 it is best to lower your expectations and just consider it a cool season annual. Thyme is well suited for containers because of its size and the fact that it demands perfect drainage. Give it excellent drainage in a pot and good air circulation. Because it is low-growing and has thin stems and a wiry habit, don't crowd it because vigorous neighboring plants might choke it out. Upright-growing rosemary is a good companion.
Gardeners add the uniquely flavored leaves of common garden sage, an herbaceous perennial, to sauces, stuffings, poultry, pork, and sausage. It provides a lovely fragrance and flavor to a dish, especially when leaves are sautéed before adding. It is a good fall and winter plant in hot climates. Great for containers. Needs good drainage. Organic varieties are only available at retailers.
Easy to grow, chives pack a lot of flavor for their compact size. The plants form neat grass-like clumps of tubular leaves that contribute an onion flavor to salads, creamy soups, potatoes, egg dishes, and others. A wonderful addition to an herb garden. Great for containers, and also makes a neat border. Enjoy the light purple blooms in the spring--they are edible, too. Frost tolerant. Organic varieties are only available at retailers.
Savor classic Italian cuisine with the flavorful leaves of this oregano. An easy-growing plant for the garden or container, Italian oregano hails from the Mediterranean region. That means it thrives with lower humidity and well-drained soil. In the garden, use this oregano as an edging plant. Plants spread when happy, rooting along the stems. Harvest leaves or stems anytime during the growing season. Flavor is most intense just before plants flower. Trim plants often to keep flower formation at bay.
A favorite of all thymes, lemon thyme is great in the garden and the kitchen. Easy to grow. Although it looks like German thyme (or English thyme), it definitely tastes and smells like lemon. Use lemon thyme in any recipe that calls for lemon, including marinades. Lemon thyme grows vigorously, so you can trim back to keep neat and compact and enjoy the trimmings! The glossy green foliage is easily sheared into a tiny hedge if you are looking to create a traditional knot garden. Evergreen in zones 8 and 9. This is a really pretty thyme that our customers brag about for its vigor and size. Lemon thyme looks great in a pot.
Enjoy oregano aroma and flavor on pizza, in egg dishes, and in tomato sauces. Native to the Mediterranean region, this plant prefers climates with lower humidity, so keep the foliage and roots away from too much moisture. Give it good air circulation. For that reason, it is perfectly suited for a container. In the ground it makes a ground-cover-like mat. Harvest anytime, but especially as the stems begin to get tall and are getting ready to flower -- that is when the leaves are the most flavorful. Cut it back several times during the growing season to harvest the leaves from the stems.
Spearmint has strong flavor and fragrance that is released with simple bruising. It's the best mint variety for hot and cold drinks. Toss bruised leaves into ice water for a refreshing summer drink or add to iced tea. Spearmint is favored for flavoring beverages such as mojito. Also know as Yerba Buena. Spreading plant is great for containers. Tolerates light frost.
English thyme is a low-growing plant with fragrant leaves. This herb goes well with just about everything. Add it (fresh or dried) to blended herb mixtures, or use in soups, sauces, beans, meat dishes, and more. It’s also a great addition to potpourri or homemade soap. But thyme isn’t just useful inside the house, as it also makes a wonderfully aromatic ground cover or border.
Many herbs are easy to grow, and this is definitely true for peppermint. Square stems tend to run rampantly over — and under — soil. In small garden spaces, it's best to tuck peppermint into a pot to curtail its wandering ways. Peppermint thrives alongside water gardens or in damp spots in the yard, but will also survive in drier soil. Lushest growth occurs in moist soil in partial shade. Crush fresh leaves into water for a refreshing beverage, or add to iced tea. You can also dry leaves for flavoring dishes or beverages and making desserts like meringues, cookies, or cakes. Pick leaves frequently. Plants open lavender blooms in late summer. Tolerates light frost.
Well adapted to warm weather, these plants form smooth, dark green heads on medium-sized stems with few side shoots. Heads offer classic flavor and all the vitamins and protein broccoli is known for. Water plants consistently for best yields, especially as temperatures climb. If you like Packman, you’ll like Lieutenant Broccoli.
These purple basil leaves have a beautiful, coppery glow and clove-like, slightly spicy flavor. Use them in salads or preserved in oils and vinegars. A pot of purple basil provides surprisingly, striking color in the garden.
Your favorite feline will purr-fectly adore fresh catnip. Add it to your garden bed or plant it in a container for inside kitties, and watch them go wild! A member of the mint family, catnip creates a comical response in most cats, with lots of purring, rubbing, and rolling on the plant. This easy-to-grow, hardy herb produces pretty clusters of white flowers with purple dots in the summer, adding beauty to your garden. And, if your feline friend will share, catnip leaves make a lovely tea for humans. Dry the leaves to create homemade cat toys stuffed with catnip for more cat antics! Plant in full sun to part shade. Perennial (zones 4 to 10).
Curled parsley has beautiful, dark green leaves well known as the classic garnish for deviled eggs and an ingredient in tabbouleh (parsley salad) or white clam sauce for pasta. However, it has many more uses. Hardy through zones 7 and warmer, it is a great winter garden plant and looks beautiful in containers with pansies or other winter color. The nutritious leaves are high in iron and in vitamins A, C, and E. The high chlorophyll content makes it a natural breath sweetener, too. Frost tolerant. Great in containers.
Need a little help relaxing? Add chamomile to the garden, and brew a cup of homegrown, soothing chamomile tea to unwind before bed. While best known for use in tea, the pretty, edible flowers also add a slightly sweet flavor to dishes, desserts, and drinks. Chamomile looks lovely and makes a great companion plant in vegetable gardens, attracting beneficial insects, like pollinators and predatory insects that feed on pests, to boost harvests and keep veggies healthy. Enjoy the large shows of pretty, petite, daisy-like flowers—they look great in bouquets, too. Plant in full sun to partial shade. Annual. Matures in 60 to 65 days.
Called "Bright Lights," this variety of Swiss chard is as pretty as it is tasty. Large leaves with a prominent, flat wide mid-rib grow in an upright rosette that is beautiful in a bed or container. Grows best in full sun, but will tolerate partial shade and even appreciates it in spring in hot climates. Highly nutritious, the leaves taste a lot like spinach, but this plant is a member of the beet family. Frost tolerant. Harvested chard freezes well.
Green Magic Broccoli
Enjoy beautiful, smooth, medium-sized heads of blue-green broccoli. Plants are compact and grow quite well in containers. Don’t pull them once you’ve harvested the head, though, as plants will continue to produce lots of side shoots that are just right for snacking or sautéing. This variety has excellent heat tolerance, too. Plant in late summer for a fall harvest.
This grass is attractive to dogs and cats. They need a little grass in their diets, especially if they do not spend a lot of time outdoors, where they will often chew on whatever grass is available. This easy-to-grow grass is also called intermediate wheatgrass, but it is not the wheat from which bread flour is made. This is originally an Asian pasture grass that was introduced to the US many years ago for pasture and fodder. You can grow it in pots for your indoor pets, or plant it in beds outdoors for animals that spend time outside.