Basic Culinary Herbs

There are some basic herbs that I can not live without any time of the year.  Most of them can be grown in our gardens during the summer months and harvested at the end of the season.  I prefer to freeze herbs right after harvesting to keep for the winter.  During the summer, it is my great pleasure to step out in the morning and collect what I feel I will use for the day.  I like mint and lemon balm for my water,  chamomile and sage for my tea.  And depending of what is for dinner, I may collect chives, parsley, oregano, basil or tarragon.  Lavender, chocolate mint and apple scented geraniums are all great additions to many desserts.

Although still in its infancy, I planted my herbs in their new bed.  I have decided to follow an informal design rather than the traditional parceled out  garden.  Instead, I have planted from short to tall, and hope everyone behaves and keeps their bounds.  Here is how it looks right after planting:

Herbs, Newly planted garden

Newly Planted Herb Garden.

So far, I have all the above mentioned herbs and in addition: borage, garlic, right in the center, rhubarb (technically a vegetable), many varieties of thyme, cilantro, rosemary, fennel and dill.  I am sure I forgot some and many that are classified as herbs and are  growing around the perennial beds, grown more for their flowers and foliage than for their medicinal or culinary properties.  Here are my recommendations for must have basic perennial herbs:

Chives or Allium schoenoprasum.  Once you plant it, there it is for life!  Very easy to grow from seed but deadhead all flowers before they go to seed or soon you will have more that you want!  Use for flavoring and as a garnish.  Flowers are edible and great as a garnish and in salads.  Freezes well for winter use.

Oregano  or Origanum Vulgare. A favorite mediterranean herb, closely related to Marjoram.  Great in soups, stews and for flavoring pasta dishes.  This is another herb I freeze every year.  Flowers profusely to the delight of bees and hummingbirds.

Thyme or thymus vulgaris.  An important well known herb.  Used in the kitchen to flavor meats, soups and vegetable dishes.  Many varieties and flavors available in the market.  Also used as a scented groundcover between ground stones.

Chamomille or Chamaemelun nobile.  Its most popular use is in the well known chamomile tea, which settles the stomach, promotes appetite and is said to relieve fevers. Its daisy-like flowers re-seed freely so it can be use as a low growing ground cover.

Common sage or Salvia officinalis.  A culinary and medicinal herb for centuries, encompasses a huge family of many different varieties, some annual, biennial and perennial.  Used primarily to flavor meats and for teas.  It has been credited to cure just about any ailment.  It is an antiseptic, anti-inflamatory herb.  It is believed to help the digestive system and liver and to act as a general tonic.  It has long had a reputation for improving memory and stimulating the brain… Well, with such properties, it could not hurt to plunge a leaf in your tea from time to time!

“If one consults enough herbals…every sickness known to humanity will be listed as being cured by sage.”
Varro Taylor, Ph.D. (herb expert)

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