It's not hard to grow favorite herb at home

by Claudi Speed, Master Gardener

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Do you say “erb” or “herb?” However you say it, there is a tantalizing choice of fresh herbs in the produce section of your favorite grocery store. But you do not have to buy herbs; you can grow your own at home.
Imagine cooking dinner and running to your garden to pick really fresh herbs.

Herbs are very easy to grow following just a few guidelines. They are shallow-rooted and adaptable to containers — which is how I grow my herbs — or you can plant them in your garden.

I like to fill containers with two or three varieties and add a flowering plant for interest. They make beautiful patio pots as well as great gifts.

Like many other plants, you will want to group together the ones that require either dry or wet conditions. Some herbs can take more sun, while others prefer filtered sun/shade, but most generally grow satisfactorily under the same conditions of sunlight and soil.

Pesticides should not be used on herbs, but a spray-on insecticidal soap is acceptable, although you should wash herbs before eating them.

A good housekeeping practice is to check plants frequently, removing any insects you find. Harvest your herbs regularly, and they will keep producing instead of flowering and going to seed.

Everything old sometimes becomes new again as with the revival of herbs to provide more nutritious food, alternative medicines, essential oils and cosmetics. Fortunately for us here in North Florida, most of the common herbs may be grown throughout the year.

Ten of the most popular herbs today are basil, chives, dill, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme and Mexican tarragon. Of this group, parsley may need to be replanted if it receives too much sun. Mint is a good herb for a container, as it tends to spread. Another herb which has become more popular is cilantro.
If you like butterflies, dill, parsley and fennel are good host plants. You will want to plant extra; one for you and one for the swallowtail caterpillars that will devour the whole plant and then reward you with swallowtail butterflies.

Herbs are a gardener’s dream — easy to grow with minimal effort in small spaces and a joy to harvest!

Seasonally, there is an herb bed in the Nassau County Demonstration Garden at the James S. Page Governmental Complex in Yulee. Also, you can visit the Extension Web site at: nassau.ifas.ufl.edu/horticulture/landmatters/herbs.html.

 

 

 

 

Claudie Speed

Claudie Speed lives on Amelia Island and is an active Master Gardener volunteer.