|Sweet Basil: Everyone's Favorite Garden Herb|
Suggestions by Robin
Back in the days when I lived in the not-so-great part of Santa Cruz, before the city added street lights to discourage nefarious trades of all kinds, my landlord inhibited my attempts to have a garden by sudden yard activities. One time I came home the yard was shorn into a badminton court. Another time, horse poop was scattered all over everything. Another time the deck was ripped up, along with the jade plants I’d started growing next to it. Being a compulsive gardener and purchaser of seedlings, I began growing just about any plants that came my way in pots. Herbs, whether annual or perennial, are most practical. Not only do they add spark and finesse to meals, a line of herbs in same-size pots adds charm and elegance to even the most Spartan-looking landscapes. Here are 10 of my favorite pot-friendly herbs.
|Thai Basil: Pinch off Flowers for Better Leaves|
2. Oregano: Indispensable for Italian cooking, oregano adds zest to soups, salad dressings, tomato sauces, chicken, fish, and vegetable dishes. It combines well with other herbs like parsley, marjoram, thyme, and rosemary, and is often sold dried in combination with these. Greek (sometimes called Italian) oregano is considered the best culinary species. The plant is perennial even in pots if the winter is mild enough. Throw some shade cloth over it or protect it beneath shrubs if below-freezing temperatures are prolonged.
|Marjoram Looks a Lot Like Oregano|
5. Winter Savory: Another perennial herb with tiny leaves and an appealing growth pattern. Although not nearly as popular as other herbs in the kitchen, its hardiness and ease of cultivation make it worth adding to the garden. It has a spicy flavor, making it a commonly used herb for homemade sausage. It also compliments meats, poultry and beans, but prolonged cooking will weaken its strong flavor significantly. Summer savory tastes similar, and is a tender annual. I’ve not had much luck with it in pots, but you might want to experiment with it anyway.
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7. Cilantro: My second-favorite annual (after basil), cilantro, can be planted in pots or directly in the garden, though like basil you might need to protect it from snails and slugs. A traditional seasoning in both Chinese and Mexican cookery, cilantro also compliments salads and sauces (and of course salsas). It grows readily from seeds or seedlings. Its one disadvantage to the gardener is its tendency to bolt, or go to seed. When it does, its broad leafy growth (the part we eat) turns thin and spindly. Cut back the flowers as they form to avoid bolting, sow in filtered sun, and/or plant several times during the season. Renee’s Garden sells slow-bolt seeds that work true to their name. And if a plant or two goes to seed in the yard, you’ll likely have cilantro growing next year with little effort.
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9. Rosemary: Being a shrub or woody-growth creeper, rosemary probably prefers to be in the ground, but can live contentedly in a large container for years. It’s cold and drought tolerant, but avoid heat shock by keeping it in partial shade during the hottest months and remember to water it every week or so to keep it happy. I also cover it with shade cloth when temps dip below freezing, though this isn’t necessary if it’s protected between larger shrubs. Rosemary is a classic compliment to lamb or chicken, and it’s also tasty in soups, stews, grilled portobellos, and even eggs. A little goes a long way, so easy does it.
|Newly Planted Lavender with Winter Savory in Background|