With my apologies to those of you still having winter in May…Let’s grow fresh herbs!
Henry invites you to take a small tour of the patio. He’s very diligent about checking out each and every pot – mostly to see if it provides a tasty snack or better access to the palm overhead.
Fresh herbs are an amazingly easy way to spruce up almost any dish. Thankfully you can buy a wide variety of herbs packaged in the grocery store but many people don’t realize how easy it is to grow your own.
You don’t need a big garden either. I have very little sun or space in my current yard for a garden so I have all my herbs in pots on the patio.
Come take a look!
THYME is one of the herbs that I throw in almost everything from soups and sauces to salad dressings. This is standard thyme (also called English thyme) but you can also get flavored plants as well. Lemon thyme is my absolute favorite and will be joining the patio pots after the next trip to the garden center.
One of the great things about thyme is that when it is fresh and tender, you can just toss the sprigs into your recipes without even stripping the tiny leaves off the stems. It adds a nice bright flavor and is one of the herbs that I think is DISTINCTLY different and better fresh than in dried form. Dried thyme always tastes like turkey dinner to me while fresh is much more light and grassy. Easy Skillet Chicken with Herbs, one of my favorite recipes, uses lots of fresh thyme and rosemary.
Speaking of grassy, TARRAGON is another of my favorite herbs. With its very mild, slightly anise flavor, tarragon is great added to salad dressings or sprinkled on top of grilled or sautéed vegetables. One of my favorite uses for tarragon is very simply added to boiled new potatoes with butter.
Although I used dried tarragon in the recipe for Chicken with Tarragon Vinegar, using fresh tarragon makes a huge flavor difference. If you make Herb Roasted Chicken, you’ll use tarragon, thyme, and rosemary to make the best bird you’ve ever eaten.
Over on the other side of the patio in a very sunny area, I have a little collection of pots (and, of course, an orange cat).
Henry is sampling the mint. The small pot in front is my sad, decimated SAGE plant. It gave up its leaves for a good cause, Pork Chops with Tomatoes & Sage. At the end of summer when the sage is huge, I cut it back and hang the leaves up to dry so I have plenty of sage to make my mom’s Bread & Sage Dressing for Thanksgiving.
This ROSEMARY bush is at least 6 years old. I can leave it outside all year round here in Florida, but even when I lived in the frozen north I would bring my rosemary inside to a sunny spot for the winter. Rosemary is another herb you can easily dry on your own when your plant is getting wooly bully and out of control.
Rosemary is great in so many recipes. It is a sturdier herb than some of the leafy ones so it can withstand much higher cooking temperatures of grilling and roasting so it’s often associated with meatier dishes. One of my favorite recipes for rosemary is Fig & Rosemary Pork Tenderloin, but it’s also wonderful in baked goods like this focaccia. At least once a week, I grab a big bunch of rosemary and toss it with vegetables (potatoes, zucchini, bell peppers, and onions) and a little olive oil. Plop them in the grill basket and go!
Here is my OREGANO pot hosting a groovy yard art bird made from forks and spoons. When I’m gathering up rosemary for grilled veggies, oregano often goes in there too. It’s a staple in spaghetti sauce and other pastas. Fresh oregano has a strong flavor so a little goes a long way. If you haven’t tried Chicken with Spicy Roasted Tomatoes, you’re missing one of the easiest and tastiest chicken dishes around and the primary reason I grow oregano.
MINT! You’re going to need it for Mint Juleps and Mojitos but also for salads like Tabbouleh and Couscous with Peas & Mint. I often toss a handful of mint leaves in a regular green garden salad for a little extra zip!
I always have at least 3 BASIL plants going because I seem to use it the most. You can’t make a Caprese Salad without it. Once you get a big basil plant really rocking by the end of summer, you can make a big batch of Pesto. Make extra and put it in small containers in the freezer. There is nothing better in mid-February when it’s gray and ugly outside than pulling out some bright green pesto from the height of summer.
(There is a basil recipe coming tomorrow that is going to blow your mind.)
Even though I’m pretty sure there is not enough sun for them in their current location, I have 2 tomato plants in pots this year. I might have to sneak them around to the front of the house and disguise them behind a knockout rose so they can bask in the sun. Florida is weird for tomatoes. Don’t get me started about the ones in the store…
Speaking of Florida and growing weird things, imagine how surprised we were to find THIS PINEAPPLE in our garden! The people who lived here before us planted the top off a pineapple and every other year we get one or two pineapples. They’re amazingly sweet if you can get to them before the critters do. I had no idea that you could just lop off the pineapple top and put it in the ground but here’s all the proof I need. This little guy is currently about the size of a very prickly baseball.
I’m very excited to have a new lemon tree in the yard this summer! So far, we have planted a lime tree (which I love), a tangerine (which needs to get busy) and now a lemon tree. We also have a huge grapefruit tree that is taller than our house. It’s showing its age so we figured we’d better plan ahead for some new citrus. I’ll keep you posted…there are teeny, tiny little lemons on this little guy right now.
That’s the tour of herbs, cats, and sundries.
Herny says so long. He’s off to eat the palm!
What’s growing in your garden?