My herb garden always makes me smile. There is just something so satisfying about stepping out the back door to cut a handful of thyme and rosemary to flavor a roast chicken, or to sip a cup of tea made from the chocolate mint that we grew. And, I’ve got to tell you, no jar or box of herbs from a store shelf can compare with the flavor! This afternoon I had some tea made from the mint that we harvested last summer and it was fabulous! To make it even better, most of these herbs are perennials, which makes them even cheaper and easier.
None of the store-bought mint teas I’ve tried can come close to the flavor of ours. It is fresh and sweet. I like it both hot and cold, so I’ll often start with a hot cup to sip on and then poor it over ice once it’s down to room temperature.
Mint is so easy to grow that it will get away from you, if you’re not careful. It easily grows from cuttings, so just buy one little plant and cut the stems off. Stick them in the soil and you’ll have tons of little plants!
I just tried store-bought lemon balm tea for the first time a couple of weeks ago. YUCK! The lemon balm we grow and dry is absolutely delicious, so I apologize to any of you who might have been dissappointed with the flavor of store-bought after I told you to try it. Get a pot. Grow your own. It’s extremely low maintenance and the flavor is worth it. Just look at that picture. I took it today, and that plant was neglected all last year (I was pregnant… everything got neglected) and it is still thriving!
Thyme is my favorite herb to flavor chicken with. Thyme fresh from the garden, mixed with rosemary and sea salt, makes for a perfect roasted chicken! I remember getting ready to roast a chicken the winter before last and being so disappointed when I realized that we had used the last of our dried thyme. Spring couldn’t come fast enough!
There are so many different types of rosemary, but so far our favorite is the Arp Rosemary. (By the way, the furry little white things aren’t part of the plant. They’re seeds from something else.) We love rosemary in almost any savory dish, but especially with chicken and beef.
Buying dried lavender flowers is expensive, but what started as one tiny plant gives me at least a pound every year! And the smell is just as heavenly as you’re imagining. 😉 Some people like to cook with lavender (I’ve seen recipes for lavender scones), but I haven’t tried it. Maybe I’ll do that one of these days…
This one is an annual, but it is so easy to grow. Our only problem is that a certain type of caterpillar likes to munch on it, but we just break off the stem he’s working on and toss him and the stem into the empty lot next door. Dinner to go, for him. 🙂
This is actually a photo of my mom’s sage, which is a resilient little plant! This little guy was planted in this pot last spring, spent the entire winter out on the deck and decided to give us an unexpected encore. We had some pork roast with apple-sage sauce last night and it was delicious. This convinced me that I need to add sage to my list!
Dill is a must. Pumpkin and I often make a summer lunch by fetching cucumbers and dill from the garden, then dipping the sliced cucumbers in homemade yogurt or kefir flavored with dill and sea salt. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
Last summer we also tried growing some marjoram and savory, but since I had such bad morning sickness for most of the summer, if wasn’t really a fair trial. We’ll have to try them again and see if they make the cut.