Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > April 2015 > BONNIE'S GARDEN--Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme to Plan Your Summer Herb Garden

BONNIE'S GARDEN--Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme to Plan Your Summer Herb Garden

The dictionary definition of “herb” is basically any plant used for food, flavoring, perfume, or medicine. For culinary purposes, “herb” refers to the leaves/stems of a plant while “spice” refers to other parts of a plant (seed, berries, roots, bark) used for flavoring.

In the United States, most of us pronounce “Herb” as “Erb,” while most of the rest of the world pronounces the “H” as well.  Whatever you call them, however, they have become invaluable to our kitchens.  Try to imagine marinara sauce without fragrant basil and oregano or new potatoes without the parsley, or pesto without basil?   Where would salsa be without cilantro?  What would you call a kosher dill pickled without the dill?

Why grow your own herbs?  Well, for one thing, they’re beautiful—the glossy, almost needle-like foliage of rosemary; the tiny trailing stems of thyme; the fuzzy silvery leaves of sage; the spiky leaves of chives crowned with fluffy purple flowers.  For another things, most herbs are notoriously easy to grow.  And, they taste and smell delicious.

Herbs are a natural pest-repellent—both the insect kind of pest and the four-legged kind of pest.  Deer, rabbits and squirrels don’t like the strong fragrance of herbs so place them around the outside edges of a vegetable garden, for example, to help deter deer.  They’re also a natural insect repellent—if a moth is looking for a cabbage plant to lay her eggs on and all she can smell is rosemary (or oregano or basil),
then maybe she’ll miss the cabbage plant altogether.

Many herbs, if allowed to bloom, are very pollinator friendly.  Allow perennial herbs to blossom to attract both butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.  Lavender, chives, thyme, lemon balm, borage, chamomile, oregano, sages, and mints all have pollinator attractive flowers.  The red or pink flowers of monarda (beebalm) can create a traffic jam of bees and butterflies.  The red tubular shaped flowers of pineapple sage (love that fresh pineapple scent, too) are a magnet for hummingbirds.  Fennel, dill, and parsley are host plants for black swallowtail butterfly caterpillars--so plant a couple of extra plants for them.

To grow your own herbs, all you need is a little space and a lot of sun.  Herbs like bright sun—six or more hours a day.  If you don’t get quite that much sun, chives, parsley, cilantro, lemon balm, chervil, horseradish, and mints will do well in as little as four hours.  Mints will tolerate slightly damp soil.  Most of the others (particular Mediterranean herbs like rosemary, lavender, oregano, sage, thyme) need well-draining soil.

Herbs are truly a feast for the senses—they look beautiful, they smell incredible, and taste fantastic.  Now if only they could sing they’d have all the senses covered.  Then again, tomato and basil do sing quite a beautiful duet, don't they?
Posted: 4/20/2015 by Bonnie Pega | with 1 comment(s)
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