Simon and Garfunkel were onto something with the lyrics of their 1966 song, entitled “Scarborough Fair.” Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme are easy to grow and definitely herbs you would find for sale at a country fair. Picture them woven into a culinary wreath to hang within easy reach on the hearth.
Of the four herbs mentioned, all grow well from seed, and require little attention, but rosemary is hard to winterize. Rosemary does not do well in harsh climates where temperatures plummet. If you live in an area that receives a harsh visit from Jack Frost through the fall and winter months, bring your rosemary plant indoors before the first frost and return it to the garden after the last frost.
The following herbs can be grown from seed in pots or in the ground. They will need full sun, sandy soil with added organic compost, and a good supply of water. Water the pots every day and again if the plants begin to look wilted. Herbs are often spindly, but the aroma and flavors are always a delight.
For best aroma and flavor, harvest herbs before they bloom. Always harvest in the morning right after the dew has dissipated. The flavor will be at it’s strongest at this time.
Toss the seeds onto the soil, cover with about ¼ inch of soil and water lightly. Once the chives come up, they are ready to be used.
While the purple blossoms are pretty they will take away from the plant. To remove the blossoms, pull the entire stem out. (They make a nice bouquet for the kitchen table.) If you leave the blossoms, the flower-heads will fill with seeds and enhance the herb garden next summer.
This herb makes a lovely carpet between rocks on the pathway. Each time you step on the plant a lovely scent will waft upward to greet you.
Thyme comes in a variety of flavors such as pineapple, coconut and lemon thyme and is great in chicken and turkey dishes, such as stuffing or casseroles.
Sage grows into plants that resemble trees. Allow about two to three feet of space for sage plants. Sage also likes nitrogen, so mulch with organic grass clippings.
To harvest sage, cut the plant down, branch by branch. It’s easier to work with smaller pieces. Wash the sage by swishing each branch in a tub of water, then hanging it in a dark warm area to dry. Once it has dried, remove the leaves. They can be stored whole or ground with a pestle and mortar. Sage is particularly good on poultry.
Dill requires little or no attention. Simply sow the seeds, water and watch. Before long the baby dill plants will erupt and reach for the sun. Dill heads will form into wheels topped with light yellow and green flowers. After the flowers mature and turn to seeds, the dill heads are ready to harvest for canning purposes.
If the dill heads are allowed to dry, the seeds can also be harvested for use in cooking. The frilly dill leaves are also great on fish dishes.
Mint grows like a weed, and like a weed will take advantage of whatever space you allow it. In other words, mints are invasive. Still, this great tasting and smelling herb is one that comes in handy when making lemonade or mint juleps.
For fun, pot a few mint plants in a metal colander and hang it outside on the patio. Because mint grows from shoots, it won’t take long for the shoots to find their way out the strainer holes in the colander and create a very cool conversation piece.
Easiest Herbs to Grow at Home (www.hellolife.net)^ http://www.wvu.edu/~agexten/hortcult/herbs/ne208hrb.htm (www.wvu.edu)^ http://herbgardening.com/ (herbgardening.com)^