ReedsDairy.com

ALAN REED - THE MILKMAN

The Use of Herbs

January 6th, 2009

Over this past weekend I sent all of you on my email list a free book about using herbs and how they can help our bodies.   I use essential oils all of the time.   Our production manager and friend Milan Miller started me using oils many years ago and it is great.   This book talks about herbs and oils and what they can be used for.   Well, I was thinking we also need to know how to grow them for ourselves.

How To Grow Your Own Herbs

These days, herbs are an important part of most people’s cooking plans.   If you stop by your local store, you’ll see shelves of dried herbs and fresh herbs in the produce section.   These are great for use when you don’t have anything else, but dry herbs may be lacking in flavor, and fresh herbs can be extremely expensive.   What’s the solution for the cook who prefers something fresh and healthy?   Grow your own!   You’ll always have fresh seasonings on hand, and these plants are incredibly easy to produce.

The Easiest Herbs To Grow
Sweet basil, chives and other onion relatives, sage, rosemary, and other common herbs are extremely easy to go and can stand fairly difficult conditions.   Others, such as cilantro, fennel, and dill, have more complicated requirements for temperature, humidity, and potting space.   Mint is another incredibly easy herb that’s best grown in a pot or in its own closed off mini-garden.   In some areas, it turns into a weed and takes over the garden!

What Kind Of Soil Does It Take To Grow Herbs
Most herbs require relatively nutritious soil, but can be grown under varied conditions.  If you have soil that’s mostly clay or sand, you’ll need to mix in supplements like compost, manure, and other materials to improve it.   However, once you have a good soil, your herbs will grow with enthusiasm.   When growing herbs indoors, be sure to use a fertilizer to add nutrients back in.   Natural options are readily available and quite inexpensive.

Types of Beds and Soil Prep
There are many different kinds of herb gardens, from raised bed types to ordinary rows and even pots in the kitchen window.   The one you choose will depend on what you want to do with your herbs, how many you’re growing and on what scale, and whether you’re hoping to have fresh herbs available all year round or just in the summer.   A small garden right outside the kitchen door is another popular choice, since herbs can be grown in any sunny place with good soil.   You can create a bed in places where you couldn’t grow other plants.

Remember to prepare the soil well - turn it over and aerate it so that your plants don’t become weighed down.   Put any additives into it before you plant.   If you’re using pots, you may need to place vermiculite or other substances at the bottom of the pot to help the soil retain water.

Why Is Growing Your Own So Important?
Growing your own herbs gives you a way to be sure that you have access to fresh seasonings whenever you want them.   It also means you have control over the process and the quality - if you’re concerned about pesticides and chemical fertilizers in your food, you can just use natural alternatives when you garden.

You’ll also save money over buying dried or fresh herbs from the supermarket.    Properly cared for, many types of herbs are incredibly prolific.   Start with your favorites or some of the easiest types, then expand to the many healthy, medicinal, or exotic types available.    You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.

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