Monday, May 23, 2011


it has been raining non-stop here. the herbs love it and have taken off.

a few summers ago i volunteered at an herb garden and learned so much information about these edible plants. some herbs i grow in pots, like rosemary and fruity sage, as they are not hardy in zone four climates. as mentioned earlier, i grow chocolate mint, apple mint, and spearmint in pots to keep them somewhat contained. other herbs i grow in the beds near my front stoop. it's important to have your herbs nearby so you can hop outside and snip a few branches/leaves when you are preparing dinner.

here are some of our favorites(as they look today in the garden) and how we use them:

lemon balm
lemon balm. okay, i can hear you now. lemon balm is such a pain. it is true that lemon balm can spread but this just means that you have to use it. we love lemon balm fresh or dried in teas (hot or cold). i hear that it makes a lovely, lemony pesto when combined with garlic, olive oil and spices. a must try this summer. be creative and try substituting lemon balm whenever a recipe calls for lemon peel.

we cut this herb back probably twice a summer, which keeps it under control. every spring, it's the first herb that greens up and begins to grow. i love how lemon balm smells and even though it can be aggressive in the garden, i like having it in my herb bed.

anise hyssop
anise hyssop.
this herb is so nice on fresh fruit salads. anise hyssop and watermelon are especially wonderful. a sprig of anise hyssop is also great in iced tea! an added bonus is that bees really like anise hyssop and we have four hives in our backyard. we just added anise hyssop to our garden last summer, and i'm happy we did.

i don't think i can imagine a garden without chives. so many uses for this easy-to-grow herb. we love making chive vinegar with the blossoms or adding the blossoms to salads. chives are great in stir fries and wonderful additions to butter or cream cheese.

great for tabouli, chopped into salads, made into pesto. the list goes on and on.

i love that sage is still going strong in november when we want it to flavor our thanksgiving dishes. we also love fried sage leaves (so good!) in risotto.

each summer we try to cut large bunches of oregano to hang from the rafters of our shed so that we can have a large jar of dried oregano for our pantry. a wonderful addition to pasta sauces.

we also grow cilantro (which is very tiny and hard to photograph at this date).

all of these herbs except for parsley (a biennial) and cilantro (an annual) are perennial and are fairly low-maintenance, in my opinion. it's nice to have herbs to use in the kitchen while we are waiting patiently for garden vegetables.

which herbs are your favorites and how do you use them in your kitchen?


  1. Wowsers, I thought I was an herb-growing superstar but I have neither lemon balm nor anise hyssop in my yard. Must remedy that.

    I would add thyme and dill to your list of must-haves. I actually panicked a bit this spring because my dill was late in coming up -- we use sprigs of dill in our pickling operations, which get quite intense in late summer.

    Thyme is just plain easy and we use it in everything.

  2. we have both, actually. the dill is too tiny to photograph and the thyme hasn't really come back this year. i might have to replace it!

  3. Great post! I had considered growing anise hyssop but it sounds like perhaps something to consider. I don't often think of adding herbs to fruit.

    I just relocated to the midwest last fall, originally being from the south, and at my farmers' market back home there was a delightful vendor who only sold herbs. I purchased five stems of chocolate mint from him last summer and have had an abundancy ever since. I'm kind of sentimental toward my chocolate mint plant. I've cut some pieces off from my window pot of it and am letting it grow roots in water now so I can plant it outside and hopefully multiply it even more in a larger container. I love making fresh mohitos, throwing some leaves in a glass of sparkling water, and other minty recipes.

  4. such a great post shari! can't wait to try fried sage leaves. i too love anise hyssop. i have a ton of little baby hyssops growing everywhere from last years seeds:)

  5. I love fresh herbs, but I haven't tried lemon balm or anise hyssop. Thanks!

    A couple of good fresh herb experiences are popping into my mind.

    1) My dad had basil growing just outside his front door. I loved snipping fresh basil to toss into a salad, stir fry, or a pasta dish.

    2) We stayed in a little cottage in Olema that had a fabulous rosemary bush in the courtyard. I snipped some for our butter beans.

  6. i'd love to try anise hyssop. i'm guessing it has an anise flavor? my favorite of our herbs is lemon thyme. so good with chicken or roasted veggies.

  7. How healthy your herbs look. So lush and green and ready to be put to additional use. (The family of brush-tail possums that live in my garden have just enjoyed the last of the oregano. They found the pot of it on the window ledge and left nothing. No herbs save lemon verbena for me.)

    be well, g