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Offbeat herb selections to spice up your garden and taste buds
Herbs are some of the easiest plants to grow, whether in a spacious backyard garden or small apartment windowsill. Common varieties, such as rosemary, parsley, and mint, offer both ornamental appeal and distinct culinary value. But as fundamental as these popular greens are, there are many unique and exotic herbs that are worth planting, as well. It’s time to think outside the basil!
Click here to see the 8 Unusual Herbs to Grow This Season Slideshow
Lesser-known culinary herbs can create a more fragrant garden, and introduce bold new flavors and aromatics to your cooking. Green-thumbed gourmands will love the rich essence that chocolate mint can bring to baked goods and herbal teas, or the jalapeño peppery zest that conehead thyme infuses into savory dishes. Want to kick cocktails up a notch? Try muddling in some fresh, citrusy lemon basil. The possibilities are endless.
Since herbs tend to be costly in stores, it makes sense to grow your favorites at home. Generally, you won’t need an expansive plot or the perfect climate for these edibles to survive — many will even flourish indoors, making it easy to just snip off a sprig and get cooking.
Once ready to expand your herbal repertoire, there are several ways to acquire specialty plants. Local farmers’ markets usually offer a vast selection of fresh seedlings for purchase, or you can pick up herbs at area garden stores and even order seed packets online.
To help spruce up your home garden and add variety to your dishes, we’ve rounded up this list of eight uncommon culinary herbs that will bring a depth of delicious flavors and scents to your favorite recipes.
Click here to see A Guide to Indoor Gardening
15 Unusual Ways To Use Rosemary That Goes Way Beyond Cooking (How to Grow it)
Not everyone has the finances to grow numerous plants or even form their own garden. However, you don’t have to throw enormous sums of money to grow beautiful plants. Actually, you can do that for free!
Yes, planting plants for free is quite successful and popular. How can you do it? The simplest way is just cutting or clipping stems or other bits of certain plants from some place you know they have it. It can be from your neighbor’s garden or you could’ve accidentally discovered it on your way to work.
Either way, the procedure afterwards is very simple. Go home and put the parts of the plant in a glass of water, change the water every day, and one day you will get surprised to see roots growing from it.
Then you can continue the process of planting it in your beautiful garden. Various plants can be grown in this absolutely free and easy way, but bear in mind that some plants will grow better than others. Plants need nurture and you should take good care of them.
Growing Rosemary for free
One of the plants that can easily be grown for free is rosemary. You will never have to buy a new plant every year, or starting the plant from seeds, but, instead, you can grow it from simple stem cuttings.
You just need to look for an established mother plant and then plant the new rosemary in containers. You can keep it indoors in winter and outdoors in summer. It is a fact that the rosemary that you plant from cuttings will mature faster than a plant started from seed. In fact, it will become a good size after a few months of growing and nurturing.
Believe it or not, you will have a clone plant looking exactly like the mother one, with the same disease resistance, same flavor and growth. In case you wondered, a single plant won’t be ruined after a number of cuttings you have done. It will stay healthy and looking fresh.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a perennial herb in USDA Hardiness Zones 8 or warmer. This perennial can be planted in a garden and usually grows 4 feet tall and spreads around 4 feet wide. Growing it in a container will help you to bring it in if you are gardening in a colder zone. Keep it outside during the summer, but protect it during the winter. During the winter it is best to put it on a south-facing windowsill and patiently wait for spring when it will flourish again.
How to Grow Rosemary and Other Perennials from simple Cuttings:
1.Select new shoots from the mother plant:
It is quite important that you choose only healthy stems with fresh growth. You will recognize them by their green color and being quite flexible. Whenever you can, avoid the older stems, which are brown and woody.
Clip the stem using sharp scissors, around 5-6 inches, measuring from the tip towards the base. Don’t worry too much about the measurements, as long as you take enough stem that will be good for rooting as well as being tall enough to catch some light in order to grow. If you please, you can cut some extras in case the process of rooting fails.
3.Be careful where you cut:
Take a cut right above or below the point where you know that leaves attach to the stem. This is quite important because leafing and branching points of the plant are made up of the so called meristematic tissue. This tissue, if you remember from your biology class, has important cells responsible for the new growth of the plant. In fact, the tissue is the origin spot of the new stems, leaves, flowers, and roots. The tissue between branching and leaf points in the center is quite different (somatic tissue) so be careful.
4.Prepare a 50/50 mixture of vermiculite and perlite:
Stir and add water so that it becomes wet. This sterile mixture will bring enough moisture and also allow drainage, preventing bacteria or fungi at the same time. Also, some plants may propagate well in garden soil or compost, so feel free to use that one as an alternative to experiment and grow the plant.
5.Remove the leaves:
Now you need to get rid of the leaves from the bottom half of the stem. They will come off very easily, in the case of rosemary. If you are dealing with other types of perennials, you may need to pinch off leaves. After removing the leaves, you can dip the stem in rooting hormone (liquid seaweed). This is optional.
6.Put the stem in the mixture: Place the stem gently into the mixture up to where there are still leaves.
7.Find the perfect conditions: The cuttings should be not exposed to direct sunlight, but they need warm climate to survive.
8. Maintain humidity and warmth:
In order to make a mini greenhouse, cover the cutting with a simple plastic bag or a mason jar and also leave a little air to circulate so that warmth is kept. You can also prop up the plastic bag with pencils and remove the cover when temperatures get higher than usual.
9. Maintain the moisture of the soil: Water at least once a week, depending on the temperatures.
10. Cutting should be tested for 3-4 weeks: After 3-4 weeks, check whether the plant survived and if there are roots growing out of it. If it failed, the cuttings will be brown and shed needles.
Repot: Now it is time to either repot or move the cuttings in the garden. It is best to mix equal parts all-purpose potting soil and sharp sand to repot your cuttings. When dealing with a rosemary plant, make a 3-4 inch hole into the soil using a pencil. Then place the cutting in the hole, cover it and water. Wait until the roots are established before you move it to direct light and be careful not to overwater it.
You can use the fresh or dried rosemary in any way you like. Here are our suggestions:
You can use rosemary in anything you like because it will give a special kick to your food. Add it to quiches, stews, roast. Add it to your juices, salads or drinks and enrich the taste of your every plain dish.
Cut 4 or 5 stems of Rosemary and add them in a cup of olive oil. Put this mixture on a stove and simmer over medium heat for five to seven minutes. Then let the infused olive oil to cool. Pour this mixture into a bottle. Seal the bottle and season every salad or food whenever you like. This can also be a great idea for a gift to someone who just loves rosemary taste.
Add a cup of rosemary leaves to three cups of salt. Stir this mixture well, cover it and let it sit for approximately two weeks. You can use this infused salt on any dish that you like. Grilled fish, roast vegetables, chicken will be enriched with a new flavor by adding this salt to them.
Put a cup of honey in a small pot. Then add five rosemary springs to it. Put the pot on a stove and simmer for about five minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool for about 45 minutes. Remove the rosemary springs and pour the honey in a container. You can use the infused honey on your toast, drizzle it over goat cheese or brie or to sweeten your tea or juice.
When it comes to sauces rosemary is certainly the right choice. When you are making marinades you can’t make a mistake combining rosemary with garlic, citrus, butter, peppercorn, olive oil, balsamic vinegar or even port.
While in soups the herb pairs well with roast mixed vegetables, sweet potato, potato, chicken, chickpea, zucchini and the list goes on.
Put a cup of water into a pot and add 2 ½ cups of sugar. Put it on the stove and heat it until it boils. Remove it from the heat. Add 9 springs of rosemary into the pot and let it steep for 30 minutes. Then strain the mixture and add it to ½ cup of lemon juice and 4 cups of cold water. Let it cool for some time. Taste it and add some sugar or water according to your preference.
Detox your body by adding a few springs of rosemary in a bottle of water or give your cocktails a kick by adding rosemary.
Stay hydrated during the summer with rosemary and grapefruit infused water or sparkling rosemary limeade. Add some lemon and rosemary into your iced tea. You can also try a blend from apple, pear and rosemary to stay hydrated all summer long.
Relax at the evening after a hard day at work with a rosemary gimlet gin or a lemon and rosemary bourbon sour.
As a medicine
Use rosemary essential oil to relieve yourself from anxiety, indigestion, joint pains, cold, flu, headache, bad circulation and much more.
You can easily make your own rosemary essential oil. All you need to do is infuse your rosemary leaves in carrier oil like jojoba or olive oil. Put the oil in a jar and leave it in a sunny position for three to six weeks. You can use this oil for mental clarity, aching muscles and relaxing massages.
If you are suffering from a stuffed up nose or chest congestion rosemary is the right remedy for you. On the one hand is guaranteed to bring you relief and on the other it’s completely safe.
Boil some water in a pot or kettle and transfer it immediately into a large heat proof bowl. Add two spoons of fresh or dried rosemary and stir well. Cover your head with a towel and lean over the bowl. Breathe in the vapor for up to ten minutes. Rosemary is natural antiseptic that helps open nasal passages.
Prepare yourself a rosemary tea to relieve the pain of heartburn and intestinal gas. Apply some rosemary oil topically to help lessen the severity of toothaches, eczema, headache, joint or muscle pain or gout.
These analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of the rosemary were recognized by the German Commission E (the scientific advisory board of the German version of the FDA) and they approved rosemary essential oil as good treatment of muscle pain and arthritis.
Boost mental clarity and enhance cognitive performance by sipping on a cup of tea or by diffusing essential rosemary oil around your home.
This amazing herb will also prevent the aging of your brain, and will help you keep sharp even in your old age. This is due to its carnosic acid content which fights off free radical damage.
As beauty product
Sooth skin irritations like acne or eczema by adding some rosemary essential oil topically. You can also use rosemary essential oil to speed up healing of wounds and bruises.
Mix ½ cup olive oil with ½ cup of dried rosemary and put them in a saucepan. Put the mixture on a stove and warm it up. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it steep for 20 minutes. Then strain the mixture and pour it in a bottle. Use this mixture as a hair mask. Soak your scalp with it and cover it with a towel or a shower cap for 20 minutes. Then rinse with cool water and shampoo your hair as you normally would.
Include more herbs like rosemary, basil, parsley, mint and sage to your meals and stop using your chemical laden deodorants which are harmful to your health.
Improve the health of your hair with rosemary and nettle combination. This great shampoo will help you get rid of dandruff and will also stimulate blood flow which will speed hair growth with regular use.
Moreover, a research has shown that certain essential oils including rosemary improve hair growth and hair quality by removing impurities, unblocking hair follicles and stimulating the scalp. Add some rosemary, lavender, thyme, cedar wood, and peppermint into your shampoo and massage it weekly into your scalp.
Fight off bad bacteria which are responsible for tooth decay and gum disease and even get rid of the bad breath by using rosemary’s antimicrobial properties.
Add a few drops of rosemary oil to your regular toothpaste or make a potent mouthwash by boiling four rosemary springs into two cups of water.
Sweet marjoram is a lesser-known herb, that deserves some of the limelight. It is easy to grow and tastes like oregano, with much more depth. Have you ever tasted oregano and found it to be bitter? Then sweet marjoram is the answer. Never bitter and with a much bigger flavor, this herb deserves a second look for any culinary herb garden.
Norma Murace Melia / Getty Images
Sage is such a rewarding herb to grow. It comes in many varieties and colors, that you can easily incorporate it into your garden design. Be sure to check out the pinks, greens, and golds that sage can produce. It is truly a spectacular and tasty herb.
Bethany Lawrence / Getty Images
Mint is wonderful for so many things that it just makes good sense to grow it in your garden. Mint grows in sunny or shady gardens, fills out quickly, and loves to be trimmed back numerous times. Whether for teas or just to attract beneficial insects, mint belongs in your culinary herb garden for sure.
The 10 Best Summer Herbs (And How To Use Them)
Add some flavor to the season with these aromatic summer herbs.
Nothing says summer quite like an afternoon in the garden. Connecting with nature, whether it’s through touch, sight, or smell, can be a comforting and mindful activity to help heal an anxious mind.
Growing your own herbs is a simple way to add flavor to your kitchen. Fresh herbs can be grown in a variety of locations, whether you live in modest cottage or a NYC apartment. Rather than trek out to the grocery store, you can simply reach your hands out the window and pluck off some of nature’s most delicious ingredients.
Below you’ll find some of our favorite summer herbs, and how you can implement them into your daily routine. Add them to your home and feel the good vibes flourish.
It’s no surprise this herb is a summertime staple—with a warm and spicy flavor, basil is an ideal pairing for sweet or mild recipes. Italians celebrated the herb alongside fresh mozzarella and tomatoes to create a refreshing Caprese salads or summery pizza toppings. Basil is also the basis for your homemade pesto. Add to a food processor with pine nuts, garlic, and olive oil to create your this zesty spread, and set it out alongside some fresh bread when entertaining guests.
As for sweet things, basil and strawberries are a match made in heaven. Combine the two to make flavored water perfect for your hot Vinyasa classes. If you’re really feeling adventurous, basil and strawberry ice cream is a wonderful summertime dessert, especially following those backyard BBQ dinners.
Bay is a staple in Mediterranean and French kitchens, and can add a luxurious depth to summer soups, stews, or crab and shrimp boils. You can also soak them in water and thread them through pieces of meat for herbal and flavorful kebabs.
The leaves best thrive in warm climates, such as a sunny deck or windowsill. Come the cooler months, consider bringing your bay plant inside so that it can continue to thrive. The leaves are sharp, so be sure to remove the leaves before serving. (But don’t worry about any added stress, as most recipes only call for one or two leaves.)
Despite their versatility, Chives rarely get the attention they deserve. Their mild onion flavor makes them a great option for dozens of your summertime faves, including sandwich spreads, sauces, and cheese-based dishes. They also add that “something special” to a mashed potato recipe, and can help heighten the flavor of creamy dips and egg salads. For all you vegans out there, try chives with a cashew-based cream cheese atop your favorite morning bagel.
The heat-loving cousin of cilantro, culantro rarely gets the glory. This spicy, flavor-packed herb is indigenous to Tropical America and the South Indies, and ideal for the summer months when cilantro starts to bolt. Don’t let its mystery deter you, though. This bad boy is rich in vitamins A, B-complex, and C, as well as the calcium, carotene, iron, and riboflavin.
We recommend adding culantro to Mexican and Spanish dishes or chutneys, salsas, stews, and marinades. For a backyard taco party, sauté culantro with meat or veggies and add to corn tortillas. (A margarita might help cut the spice.) Note that culantro’s flavor is a bit stronger than cilantro, so you’ll often need to add less, and might want to taste as you go.
A unique herb that loves the summer sun, dill has a similar pungent and aromatic flavor to that of caraway. The bright flavor pairs well with fatty-dishes, such as a butter sauce for a fish or in a cream-based dip. It’s perfect or those fierce summer days when you need to add a refreshing element to a more indulgent dinner.
Dill can also be used for medicinal purposes, including a stomach-soothing tea to treat gas or digestive issues. Mash two teaspoons per cup of boiling water and steep for ten minutes, and enjoy when you’re feeling tummy troubles.
Mint comes in many varietals, but when it comes to your kitchen staple, spearmint is a top-notch option. The diverse herb can be used in everything from tabbouleh to fruit salads. You can also boil spearmint with sugar to create a refreshing simple syrup, ideal for sweetening your iced teas or mojitos.
Spearmint is also a wonderful way to add flavor to water. If you have trouble getting your eight cups of H20, pluck off a few seeds of your spearmint plant and add to cold water. Keep in the fridge for a cool and refreshing pick-me-up when you’re feeling that summertime dehydration.
Meaning “mountain joy,” oregano is famous for its role in Italian and Mexican recipes, and awesome for cutting the fat in more cheesy dishes. If that weren’t enough, the herb is also bursting with antioxidants, vitamin K, manganese, iron, and calcium, so it doesn’t hurt to find ways to slide more oregano into your diet.
Add oregano to your favorite summertime pizza recipe, sautéed mushrooms and onions, a homemade dressing, atop garlic bread, or in an Italian frittata. You can also make a riff on typical basil-based pesto by adding fresh oregano to a food processor alongside pistachios, garlic, lemon, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pulse and use atop angel hair pasta, zucchini noodles, or spaghetti squash.
The resonant and aromatic flavor of rosemary makes it a delightful pairing to your summertime cuisine. Add flavor to pork, chicken, or veggies by laying rosemary branches across a charcoal grill, allowing the resinous scent to soak into your food. It also makes for flavorful marinades when cooking savory meat dishes, or atop roasted fingerling potatoes for a comforting side.
For a summer evening snack, make your own rosemary oil by gently simmering a sprig or two in a good olive oil for about five minutes. Drizzle the oil atop stovetop popcorn, add salt, and shake the pot to combine. Eat alone, or enjoy cozied up with a glass of white wine, good friends, and your fave flick. Movie night never tasted so good.
These anise-flavored leaves age quickly, making them an ideal choice to keep fresh and around the house, as you won’t have to worry about it going bad in your fridge. We suggest opting for French tarragon, which has a more nuanced flavor than its Russian counterpart. (No offense, Russian tarragon.)
Its strong flavor makes it an ideal pairing for mellow and comforting dishes, such as potato salads or butter sauces. And tarragon and poultry are practically culinary soulmates. Try the herb in any chicken dish you can imagine—chicken pot pie, chicken salad, chicken soup, and even duck and turkey dishes. If meat isn’t your thing, tarragon also works beautifully with egg dishes and seafood, especially bivalves such as scallops and clams.
Thyme is comforting and subtle, with a lingering flavor that adds depth to your favorite summertime recipes. Its versatility makes it ideal for a variety of savory dishes, and it works well paired with other French and Mediterranean herbs.
Try with your favorite grilled, roasted, or sautéed veggies, such as summer squash, carrots, or zucchini. Ratatouille, an Italian staple comprised of onions, eggplant, peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes, is a perfect platform for thyme. Cook a large batch and save to top pasta, omelets, or enjoy all it own.
Lungwort - Herb of the Week
salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
Place the butter in a large soup pan and heat to melt. When nicely melted and sizzling add the celery, onion, parsley, bell pepper and garlic. Fry over a low flame for about 20 minutes, or until the onion is soft and golden then add the flour and lungwort leaf powder. Stir the mixture constantly for about ten minutes to form a roux then add the stock and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer then cook for about 20 minutes before adding the ham, fish and sausage. Continue cooking for a further 30 minutes. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly then add the prawns and thyme. Continue cooking for about 2 minutes then adjust the seasonings and serve on a bed of rice.
Warm your teapot and rinse clean. Add the lungwort leaves to the pot and pour over the 300ml boiling water. Cover and set aside to infuse for 10 minutes. Strain into a cup or mug, sweeten to taste with honey and serve. Herbalists recommend that this is taken three times a day. Whether or not the tea has any medicinal benefits, the mucilage from the lungwort leaves combined with the honey will help relieve a sore throat.
Steep 2 tsp. in 1/2 cup boiling water. Add this tea to 1-1/2 cups althea tea which has been prepared by soaking 1 tbsp. althea root, leaves and/or flowers in 1/2 cup cold water for 8 hours. Take the mixture with honey, in mouthful doses.
This is an old recipe and I would consult a doctor or herb practitioner before making this to self-treat. See my post earlier this month on Coltsfoot.
Best Herbs for Container Gardens
A beloved Italian annual herb, basil grows best in full sun and fertile, moist soil. Once the root system is established, about six weeks after sowing, it tolerates short periods of drought. Depending on the variety, it can grow up to 2 feet tall. Basil is a good companion with parsley, thyme, and other herbs when grown in a pot that holds at least 5 gallons of soil. For small containers, choose a compact variety such as 'Spicy Bush'.
Chives are grassy, clump-forming perennials with hollow leaves. Essentially tiny onions, chives are grown for their leaves and blooms rather than their bulbs. Their fragrant pink-purple spring flowers are also edible. Plant them in well-drained potting soil that's rich with organic matter. They can tolerate light shade but do best in full sun. Chives grow well in container gardens, and can reach up to 20 inches tall. Because they're hardy in Zones 3-10, you can leave them outdoors year-round.
Cilantro, also known as coriander, can be used for its tangy leaves or its dried, ground seeds. Plant this annual herb in well-drained soil. Cilantro grows best in sun, although it tolerates some shade. Because it has a long taproot, place it in a container garden that is at least 12 inches deep. Some varieties can grow up to 2 feet tall.
Tarragon is a classic French herb used to season fish and many other foods. Its name is derived from the French word for little dragon, referring to the herb's bold flavor. Plant it in full sun and well-drained potting mix, and it can reach up to 3 feet tall. It tolerates drought well and should not be overwatered. Tarragon can grow in partial shade but does best in full sun. It can also be grown as a perennial and is hardy in Zones 5-9.
Lavender is a bushy perennial shrub that does best in full sun and well-drained potting mix. Keep it on the dry side and avoid fertilizer, and some varieties can reach up to 2 feet tall. Lavender hardiness depends on the variety the toughest are hardy in Zones 5-10.
An old-fashioned favorite that spreads freely and self-sows readily, lemon balm is perfect for container gardens so it doesn't take over the yard. Plant in partial shade or full sun and in moist, rich, well-drained potting mix. As a perennial, it's hardy in Zones 3-10 and can grow up to 2 feet tall.
Lemon verbena is a tropical shrub (hardy in Zones 9-10) that's commonly grown as an annual in container gardens. Plant nursery-grown plants in pots filled with well-drained potting mix. Avoid fertilizer lemon verbena grows best with few nutrients. It prefers full sun, and can grow up to 3 feet tall.
An oregano relative, marjoram has a sweeter, milder flavor and aroma than its cousin. Grow it in full sun and well-drained potting mix, and it can eventually reach up to 2 feet tall. It's perennial in Zones 8-10, so gardeners in colder areas can grow it in container gardens indoors over winter.
Mint is such a vigorous plant that it will become invasive unless it's confined in a pot. Grow it in full sun or partial shade. Mint can grow in many soil types and degrees of sunlight, but it produces the best leaves in rich soil. It's a perennial, but its hardiness varies by variety, so check which type you're growing. Its size can also vary, but some plants can stretch up to 2 feet tall.
Oregano is an essential ingredient in Mediterranean cuisines. The plant is a shrubby perennial (hardy in Zones 5-10) that does best in full sun and well-drained potting mix. The more sun oregano receives, the stronger the flavor of the leaves. It doesn't tolerate wet soil, and will grow up to 2 feet tall.
A Mediterranean evergreen shrub (hardy in Zones 7-10), rosemary likes hot, dry, sunny spots, and can reach up to 3 feet tall. Quick-draining soil is the key to good growth, but it's also drought-tolerant. Keep the soil moist but never wet when grown indoors.
Sage is a favorite for seasoning poultry. Best grown in full sun and moist, well-drained potting mix, sage is perfect for adding structure to container gardens. Most varieties are hardy in Zones 4-10, and can grow up to 2 feet tall.
Thyme comes in many varieties, but all grow best in full sun and well-drained soil. Thyme doesn't tolerate wet soil, so avoid overwatering (check the soil before watering, and wait until it's dry to the touch to give it a drink). It's hardy in Zones 4-10, and is perfect for small-space containers since it only reaches about 10 inches tall.
Once you&aposve selected the herbs you want to have on hand, just make sure to place them in a spot that gets at least eight hours of direct sun every day, and water when they need it. And it&aposs best to avoid adding fertilizer most herbs will give you the strongest fragrance and flavor when they&aposre grown in lean soil.
Perennial herbs can survive in containers outdoors year-round if the pots are large enough (holding at least 5 gallons of soil), have good drainage, and are hardy in your Zone. Use plastic pots if you keep them outdoors year-round ceramic or clay containers can crack from freeze-thaw cycles. Or lift your perennial herbs from pots and transplant them into the garden in late summer, giving the herb enough time to establish a new root system to survive winter. You can also treat container-grown perennial herbs as annuals, discarding them at the end of the season.
20 Perennial Herbs for the Tastiest Edible Garden Ever
What&rsquos not to love about herbs? They&rsquore super easy to grow, and perennial types come back every spring, many lasting through the first frost. Create a simple potager, or kitchen garden, and harvest your herbs for cooking, sprucing up lemonade, cocktails and tea or simply enjoy their cottage charm (and sweet smells!). Herbs are also great looking greenery in cutting garden bouquets of other spring and summer flowers like zinnias and daisies. Many types of herbs have gorgeous blooms for weeks, attracting beneficial pollinators such as butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. In mild regions, you can harvest them most of the year. But even in cold climates, herbs may surprise you by withstanding light freezes. You can start them from seed, but the easiest way to establish them in your garden is to buy them in cell packs from your local garden store or online. Most herbs are full-sun perennials requiring at least six hours of direct sunlight and steady watering, especially once the summer sun shows itself. Toward the end of the season, gather big bouquets of herbs to hang and dry to keep your herb options open into fall. Here, see some of our favorite perennial herbs to plant in your garden.
Thyme is a fast grower with teeny leaves and loads of purple or pink flowers. The best news: It thrives on poor soil, and pollinators love it! It's also a hardy ground cover that's most flavorful when used fresh in chowders, potatoes, and pasta dishes.
This old-fashioned herb isn&rsquot seen that often nowadays, but it&rsquos generally unfussy and can grow to several feet tall. Use fresh leaves for a light celery flavor in casseroles, soups, potato dishes, and poultry dressing.
Honestly, you almost can&rsquot kill oregano. It&rsquos hardy, spreads fast, and has little purple-ish flowers that last for weeks to attract pollinators. Use it in tomato sauce, soups, and pizza.
Parsley is biennial, so it'll be two seasons before they flower. Buy plants you&rsquoll lose patience waiting for seeds to sprout. It takes three to five weeks to germinate! Some cooks think Italian flat-leaf parsley has more flavor. Use it in salads, soups, sauces, and potato dishes.
This herb has glossy leaves and small white flowers that bloom from mid- to late summer. It survives only mild winters because it&rsquos considered a tropical plant. The strong lemon scent is tasty in iced tea, or use it for potpourri.
Marjoram has rounded leaves and teeny flowers you almost don&rsquot notice. It prefers sandy soil, but it has zero tolerance for a frost. Plant only in warm climates, or treat as an annual in cold regions of the country. It&rsquos used in poultry dishes, soups, and potatoes.
This herb has rounded, almost heart-shaped leaves and small white flowers that aren&rsquot that impressive. But the plant does have a very pleasant scent. Use leaves for a mild citrusy flavor in fruit salads or herb butters.
Delicate, wispy leaves adorn this graceful plant. Some kinds grow up to four feet tall, so make sure it&rsquos in the back of your border. Pollinators especially love the lacey yellow flowers. In most climates, it's an annual, but it drops plenty of seeds so plants come back. Use leaves anytime or dry seeds to use in pasta dishes or sausage for a mild licorice flavor.
Slightly soft and fuzzy, sage can be pale green, tricolor, purple, or variegated. It&rsquos hardy, surviving even the most severe winters. Use as an aromatic to stuff poultry or to season pork dishes. You can also lightly fry whole leaves to top dishes such as pumpkin ravioli.
Mint has many different personalities: Spearmint tastes fresh and clean. Chocolate mint tastes sweet. Pineapple mint, well, you get the idea. If you don&rsquot want it to take over the garden (and it will!), plant in a pot sunk into the ground to contain its spread. Add a sprig to lemonade, or chop and toss with home fries. Bonus: Mint is one of those plants that naturally repels mosquitoes.
This exquisitely scented plant with purple-blue flowers doesn&rsquot like wet feet, so make sure soil is well-drained. Its delicate flavor shines in salads, herb butters, scones, and shortbread. Delish! Alternatively, you can dry for sachets and tuck into your dresser drawers.
These charming daisy-like flowers grow on a bushy plant. Flowers can be used fresh or dried in salads, steeped as a tea, or dried for potpourri. Make sure to read the plant label, as some other types of chamomile are annual, not perennial.
This herb is one of the lesser known, but it has attractive tooth-edged leaves and pink flowers. Add leaves to salads for a mild cucumber-y flavor.
Sorrel is another less commonly grown herb with long leaves and dark red veins. It likes lots of moisture. The leaves have a lemony tang, and it&rsquos used in salads and soups or as a spinach substitute.
Long, slender leaves and pretty pink or purple globe-like flowers grow in clumps and adapt well to many different kinds of soils. The flowers drop seeds, so you&rsquoll also have baby chive plants in successive years. Both the leaves and flowers are edible with a mild onion flavor. Snip off with scissors (pulling on the plants will yank out the roots) and use in soups, salads, or potato dishes.
Cilantro (the leafy part) and coriander (the seeds found in the dried flower heads) are the same plant. Technically, it&rsquos an annual but let the seed heads drop, and baby cilantro plants will appear in cooler weather. The leaves, flowers, and seeds are edible and delicious in salsa, salads, and Mexican recipes. Side note: Some people aren&rsquot big fans because they have a genetic predisposition to perceive a soapy aftertaste when eating cilantro.
You may think of these charming flowers as strictly ornamental, but lightly scented violas are actually edible! They re-seed on their own, so you&rsquoll find them popping up everywhere next spring. Plant in part-shade so they&rsquoll survive the hot summer sun. With their colorful faces, they&rsquore adorable on cupcakes, salads, or frozen in ice cubes.
Thin, grassy leaves and white clusters of fragrant flowers on clumping plants make these a pretty addition throughout your garden. Use them in place of garlic for a similar but milder taste. Both the leaves and unopened flower buds are edible.
Piney-scented rosemary is a fairly sturdy plant. It&rsquos hardy in mild winters but can survive for years in cold climates if planted in a pot and brought indoors in winter. The tiny purple flowers are quite pretty, and dwarf or trailing varieties make a great addition to the garden. Chop up and top sauces, pasta dishes, and roasted meats.
This semi-shrubby plant has small purple or blue flowers and attractive foliage. Don&rsquot confuse with summer savory, which is an annual that won&rsquot survive winter. Add to stews and lamb dishes.
I know, I know, basil doesn’t sound original, but this one is a monster. The leaves grow hand-sized, meaning a single leaf fits perfectly in a sandwich, with a flavour similar to sweet basil but slightly stronger. Grow in a pot, somewhere sheltered and warm slugs love the large leaves when young, so mollycoddle it. I’d even consider growing inside on a windowsill until July. Buy from seedsofitaly.com.
If you use a lot of thyme, try summer savory. Photograph: Getty Images
If you use a lot of thyme in cooking, then you’ll love the tender tips of summer savory. This is the herb to pair with beans, with its sweet, spicy, peppery notes and pungent aroma. Or use under the skin of a roast chicken, in pork dishes and with cabbage. It is easy to dry for winter. It grows best in full sun, in free-draining soil, and is very happy in a pot. It is not frost hardy. Buy from sarahraven.com.
One of the perks of vegetable gardening is getting acquainted with all sorts of vegetables. From the unusual-looking to the unusual-tasting, some of these veggies are downright strange. It’s easy to think this way about vegetables that are not native to your area. Take these unusual vegetables, for example. While they are weird-looking to you, they may be common to others. However, these weird and unusual vegetables will both amuse and inspire you to get creative!
1. Dipper Gourd
With gourds being such a large family of all shapes, sizes, and colors, it seems there will be no end to their surprises. And the dipper gourd isn’t even the last of it. This exotic vegetable got its name from its hard exterior, which can be cut and crafted to resemble a ladle.
2. Snake Gourd
See what I mean about the gourd family? This exotic vegetable is straight-on weird. A snake-shaped vegetable dangling from a trellis can even be mistaken for a real snake. But don’t be put off by the shape, its taste and preparation are very similar to summer squash.
3. Yardlong Beans
Beans are another complex family of interesting and varied members. Take this yardlong bean for example, which also goes by the name long bean or string bean. The length of this variety might intrigue you, but the taste is not far from bush beans.
4. Winged Beans
Now, this is one bean variety which I can really say different from the rest. The unique angled shape earned it the name four-cornered beans or four-angled beans. It’s quite an underrated vegetable because it’s nutritious and most of the plant parts are edible.
Although kohlrabi is a member of the cool season brassica vegetables, it has not achieved the same recognition as cabbage and broccoli. It’s pretty unusual with the leaf stems growing out of what looks like a root part. But it’s actually a swollen stem which tastes much like the stem of broccoli and cauliflower.
6. Black Radish
Radishes come in a wide range of colors, from white to red and even orange. But have you ever seen a black radish? The black skin and the white flesh is a striking contrast, giving a dish an interesting color and texture. This will make an intriguing change in both your vegetable garden and dishes.
7. Moringa Fruit
Moringa is making headlines for its proven health benefits. Although moringa is mostly valued for its leaves, the long slender fruit is surprisingly edible. It is used in many parts of the world as a vegetable, with the young fruits prepared much like you would green beans.
Chayote is also a gourd vegetable variety with a slightly different structure. It is a pear-shaped vegetable but lacks the numerous seeds found in its counterparts. It has a single, large and flattened pit which is edible.
9. Bitter Gourd
No need to describe its taste any further. It is plain bitter and tastes nothing like any other gourd, except perhaps for the silk gourd. You either hate it or love it and if you ask me, I think I can tolerate it. I’ve sampled it in an egg omelet and it gave the eggs a different but interesting flavor.
10. Banana Flower
Of course, there are edible flowers, but did you ever consider banana flowers? And like most of the entries here, they’re a common vegetable in the tropics which are prepared much like you would artichokes. This is one exotic vegetable to try sometime.
11. Bamboo Shoots
Although canned bamboo shoots are found in grocery stores, a lot of people still find it a weird and exotic vegetable. It doesn’t have a distinctive taste, however, it can even be considered bland. But it’s enjoyed and valued for its crisp and tender texture which is comparable to asparagus.
12. Belgian Endive
What makes Belgian endive unusual is how differently it grows from other leafy vegetables. These vegetables can be bitter but the whiter the color, the less bitter-tasting it is. It has to be specially grown underground to keep it from turning green and opening up.
13. Jicama Root Vegetable
Jicama is also called Mexican turnip but they are widely grown in tropical areas around the world. It has a starchy, flat, apple-like taste when eaten raw, and it is also good in stews or stir-fries. Growing jicama in a vegetable garden with a short growing season will not do as it requires a warm temperature to germinate.
14. Achocha Fat Babies
Achocha fat babies, also a member of the gourd group, looks like it belongs more in a Martian garden than a human one! What’s amazing and unusual about this vegetables is that it simply tastes like cucumber when eaten young and raw. But it can be used as a substitute for green peppers when used for cooking.
15. Petch Siam Eggplant
There’s nothing unusual about the humble eggplant except when the variety looks more like an unripe tomato! Like the common eggplant or aubergine, it grows best in summer and will make a great addition to your vegetable garden.
16. India Black Carrot
Like eggplant, there’s nothing unusual with our favorite carrots, until you see the India black variety. But did you know the first known cultivated carrots were originally black or a deep shade of purple? It was only later that the orange carrots were more widely cultivated. Grow carrots in your vegetable garden and try this variety for a change.
17. Winged Asparagus Pea
Winged asparagus pea is called as such because it really does taste like asparagus when cooked lightly and eaten fresh. It also resembles the winged beans with its four corners, but it doesn’t grow as tall and has fewer yields. They make a great ornamental plant with the red flowers making it ideal for edible landscaping.
18. Romanesco Broccoli
Romanesco broccoli looks nothing like the usual broccoli nor the cauliflower although it resembles the same growth with the edible head wrapped in leaves. It has an interesting pattern in the florets as if arranged in an algorithm. If you kids are not a fan of broccoli then the romanesco might be a hit with them for its nutty flavor.
19. Purple Sweet Potatoes
While sweet potatoes are getting a following from avid gardener, they’re becoming quite common in the average garden, both as a food source and as an ornamental plant. Sure you’ve seen white and yellow sweet potatoes, but have you seen purple ones? Not the skin, though, but the inner part which can be covered and hidden under a yellow, red, or white skin.
20. Wooly Bear Gourd
I know what you must be thinking. No way this is a gourd with the spine and all but it really is. No worries because they aren’t prickly but are actually tender and great for stir fries. You can grow them in your garden in the warm summer as with most of this vegetable variety.
21. Chioggia Guardsmark Beet
Although the health benefits of beet are not ordinary, beet is not exactly what you would call an exotic vegetable. Except for this amazing vegetable variety with interesting rings making it look like a marksman’s target. Grow this beet variety as an interesting addition to your vegetable garden and an amazing addition to your favorite dishes.
Check this video about unusual vegetables you may actually have in your garden:
One of the benefits of getting acquainted with unusual vegetables is knowing potential food source. This is actually a survival skill you can learn along with vegetable gardening. But on the less serious note, wasn’t this list of unusual vegetables amusing? Well, this isn’t the last of it. So watch out for more of our interesting vegetable gardening list!
Did I miss out on an exotic vegetable you’ve seen but couldn’t find a name for? Do tell about this vegetable in the comments section below.
Want more on weird gardening? Then you’re in for a surprise with these 21 exotic fruits you’ve probably never laid eyes on till now.
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Herbs health benefits
Submitted by zeeshan on October 31, 2020 - 11:29am
good knowledge about herbs
i have written an article about herbs health benefits.please visit it too
Growing Herb Guide
Submitted by Tina on January 18, 2016 - 10:18am
it is so small and if you try to enlarge it, the image becomes blurry.
Hey there im trying to
Submitted by m.art on August 18, 2014 - 9:51am
hey there im trying to propagate rosemary in water. but the tips of the leave s leep on curling up and going black, then i got this reply from another herb site
"Sorry for the delay in response. You cannot root rosemary in water, as the oxygen content is too high. The only herb that roots well in water is mint. Rosemary cuttings have to be rooted in a special cutting medium with sand, perlite, and peat moss. They have to be kept misted in indirect sun to root properly. It is not an herb that roots easily"
which is correct thanks
Every June (in zone 5
Submitted by Alli Ann on January 11, 2015 - 4:25pm
Every June (in zone 5 Illinois) I root Rosemary in water. Cut some 8" branches- strip 3" of leaves and put in a container of 3" deep rainwater. Leave in dappled sunlight (under a tree). In a few weeks they will have plenty of roots. Remember to change the rainwater so that you don't grow mosquitoes.
I have also grow them in soil. Again cut some 8" branches- strip 3" of leaves -then sprinkle with rooting powder. Poke 3" holes with a pencil -in your potting soil in the container of your choice. Important - Carefully place the rosemary cutting in the hole then push the soil from the side to secure the cutting. The idea is to not rub off the rooting powder.
I am not sure why your cuttings turn black - it has happened to me a few times. I would guess it was too humid or too cold. Please try again this summer!
I know for a fact you CAN
Submitted by V on April 17, 2016 - 12:53pm
I know for a fact you CAN root Rosemary in water because I've done it. Are you cutting off a big enough piece?
Thank you so much.. I noticed
Submitted by SuzyC-in-Colorado on August 8, 2014 - 12:56pm
Thank you so much.. I noticed that within a few minutes of my last post, the concern I had was addressed and fixed.. Very helpful knowing the dates.. Blessing to everyone at Almanac.com and all other farmers & gardeners. I will get the hang of this gardening, I promise..lol
Moving from Zone 9b to Zone 5 has been a blessing as I have always wanted to garden and the hot sun, very little rain and dry winds in the Desert of California doesn't allow for much gardening.. We have so many plans for the second half of our lives together.. It is wonderful to have a site like Old Farmers Almanac to fall back on for good advice.. My Dad & grandparents read your book like a bible and I look forward to ordering and receiving my hard copy.. Thanks again Almanac Team <3
As a new gardener it would be
Submitted by SuzyC-in-Colorado on August 8, 2014 - 12:36pm
As a new gardener it would be helpful to know when these comments are posted. Maybe I missed something.. Sorry, but it is hard to know if I am reading a new comment or one that is years old.. also, some comments say plant now, but when is now without knowing when they left this much needed advice.. is there a way to change the layout here to include when comments are posted.. thanks. Oh, and it is the beginning of August 2014.. Again, thanks
I was told when I lived in
Submitted by Mary Raynor on August 6, 2014 - 7:30pm
I was told when I lived in N.Y. to plant garlic in Sept and to harvest following July. It worked for me got beautiful clumps and they were very tasty.Hope this helps, I now live in N.C. and have been learning a whole new time zone( no fun). But, I've gotten tons of zucchini,tomatoes,peppers,broccoli,and cabbage. the worst problem is weather and bugs,uggg!! But, after a long season I am now getting ready for my fall crop, which will include garlic,lol. Dont give up hope, just do what you can, a little everyday.My weeds are never ending but, I do what I can and just enjoy my daily harvest. Next year I ve learned to put my weed cloth on top after planting as well as underneath, hopefully that will help, and weed preventitive too,lol.Have fun people <3
Also, wanted to say, I used
Submitted by Mary Raynor on August 6, 2014 - 7:35pm
Also, wanted to say, I used cooking garlic from the little red box,lol. I used 2 cloves and seperated them, I think I had 22 cloves. They all came out around the same size, average.Hope this helps.
My dad buys garlic in the
Submitted by diana in n.c. on December 30, 2012 - 4:37pm
my dad buys garlic in the grocery store then separates the bulb. he then plants the
garlic along side of the green onions.when the leaves start to turn yellow he then hangs in the barn in a cool place then we have garlic for the whole year.,
Ssunshine: As mentioned,
Submitted by Melos Antropon on April 13, 2010 - 11:46pm
As mentioned, knowing where you are would help to give a more accurate answer. Garlic is easy to grow acceptably, a little harder to grow spectacularly. But you can do it. This is a down-and-dirty (read: "short") compendium of advice.
- The most commonly grown garlic - and the longest keeper - is a softneck called "White Silverskin". But there are many others, all with different plusses and negatives.
- Plant only the 6-8 large outer cloves of your seed garlic. Big cloves - big bulbs. Small inner cloves - small bulbs. If you get a good crop, save the largest bulbs for your next year seed (selective breeding!)
- In the northern tier of the USA, it's best to plant garlic after the first fall frost - it will winter over, and the end result is bigger bulbs next summer. But you can plant it in early spring and get a good crop - just somewhat smaller bulbs.
- Garlic doesn't need a ton of fertilizer, but it DOES need loose, well drained soil with a goodly amount of organic matter. It grows best in full sun. It's ready to harvest when about half of the leaves have yellowed (mid/late summer). Let it air dry out of the sun for 2-4 weeks, and (if it's Silverskin) it will keep virtually a year if stored in a cool, dry place. Good luck!
I am wanting to move a herb
Submitted by willowoaks on February 24, 2010 - 10:09am
I am wanting to move a herb bed that is hard for me to get water to. It contains herbs such as rosemary, lavender and oregano. Can I safely move them?
Looking for information on
Submitted by ssunshine33 on February 17, 2010 - 12:40pm
looking for information on growing garlic and the only thing found is it is great to grow near roses. I really need to know planting times and such.
I have started several clumps
Submitted by willowoaks on February 24, 2010 - 10:14am
I have started several clumps of garlic. I don't know what area you are in but I live in TN. I have never give it much thought about what time of year I put mine in the ground, they seem to grow pretty prolific. Be careful not to let it take over a small area. Needs room to grow. I do think that early spring or fall would be the best time to plant them even though I have planted some in the middle of summer and they lived.