The Versatile Varietals of Herb Plants

The giant rosemary bush outside the kitchen door may have choked out the lavender that was planted at the same time, but it serves a dual purpose: not only is fresh rosemary a terrific addition to chicken and home-baked bread, but it's a great natural deodorizer for when the dogs, wolfing around with each other and rushing around and out the door, fall into the pretty (and harmless) bush. Your friends will soon be saying, Gee, your dogs smell terrific. (For those of you who are too young to remember, Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific was an actual shampoo, popular in the late 1970s; it's still sold by the Vermont Country Store and online auction sites.)

The bottom line is that having your own herbal plant patch or garden, whether it's in ground or on your windowsill, is a terrific addition to the kitchen and a must-have for the serious cook.

Even in the dead of winter, if your view outside is more high rise than hillside, you can still grow herbs. An herb plant garden may be sweetly placed in a bay window, but you don't have to undertake home renovation to create your own indoor herb garden. If you have a window that is either west- or south-facing you're very likely to get the required five hours of daylight to keep an herb plant garden flourishing.

As you're considering what kind of herbs to plant, think of the type of herbs you'd actually use in your cooking.  Here are some suggestions, citing herb plants that are ideal for an indoor herbal garden.

Thyme: the four ingredient in the Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & song, thyme is a an herb that not only grows well, but is extremely versatile. Historically, the Egyptians used it for embalming and ancient Greeks used it as a bath soak and as an incense. Romans sprinkled (metaphorically) thyme throughout the European continent and used thyme for flavoring liquers and cheese. Thyme was said to be a sleep aid. It also staved off nightmares and was used in the cleansing of rooms. Thyme was popular amongst soldiers who carried leaves with them because it was alleged to bring them courage. It also aided, purportedly, in permanent sleep – that is to say it was added to coffins/death receptacle to ease passage into the afterlife. For those interested in Culinary pursuits, it is used in soups, meats and stews. It's very closely associated with lamb, tomatoes and eggs. Middle Eastern cooks often use thyme in their dishes, as do the Indians, Italians, French, Greek, Carribean and Apanish. Another reason to have thyme in your herbal garden is that fresh time doesn't have much of a shelf live, usually only a week. To be able to reach over or step out and over to grab some is idea.

Mint:  easy to grown, a very  hardy and tenacious herb, mint is used as a garnish for lemonade, flavoring for soups and desert, and, of course, in toiletry products (toothpaste, mouthwash, bath soaks, etc.). It grows well in shady to slightly sunny areas in moist, rich soil. Mint is a popular ingredient in too-many-to-name medicinal concoctions. It allegedly has a calming effective, not unlike a sedative. Your own grown mint can spruce up the water you're using to boil your favorite vegetable, added to potatoes, rice, ice cubs, salad dressing and tea. It's popular and often used in southern Austrian cooking. And don't forget, it's the absolutely critical must-have in a Julep.

Rosemary: Already mentioned above, it, like mint, may take over your other herbal plants as it is tenacious.

Dill, basil and oregano are available in seeds – be sure, if you're using them inside, you ask for compact seedlings, otherwise you run the risk of the vines roaming to far afloat in your household. Fill your pot or area with regular potting soil, put the seeds in (as specified on the label of the envelope the seeds came in) and then mist with water. Don't over water, and while plenty of light is welcome, don't subject them to extreme temperatures or temperature changes.  Basil is the main ingredient for pesto. Dill is great to use in pickling, and in dips, eggs and potato salad. Fresh dill is the very best way to use and serve the herb. Oregano has been dubbed the pizza herb because it is the predominant spiced used in the popular pies. It's also popular in most Italian recipies. Oregano, like the other herbs mentioned here, can be used in alcoholic beverages, meat, condiments, relishes, snacks and sauces. It's used on fragrances as well as soaps and detergent. Some people clam that the oil from oregano can be used as an anti-fungal.

Garden Harvest Supply is a good place to start creating your own herb plant garden. You'll find you'll be reaching for it often as you tinker away at your recipes in your kitchen.

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