And other solid herbal advice, courtesy of Morningsun Herb Farm.
Tuesday night was my master gardener association meeting and the topic was herbs. Not to dis our association meetings which always feature knowledgeable speakers, but let’s just say if not for the cookies and the fact that someone is always giving away some plant or other for free, I wouldn’t necessarily be a regular attendee. This past Tuesday there weren’t even any cookies, but thanks to the excellent presentation provided by Rose Loveall of Morningsun Herb Farm in Vacaville, CA, the hour flew by. A few of the highlights:
I had always thought that herbs became bitter once they flowered, but this is true of annual herbs only, such as basil or cilantro. Perennial herbs like oregano, sage and thyme do not lose flavor or potency after flowering.
As anyone who has grown herbs knows, one of the frustrations of growing basil is its tendency to flower quickly, and it turns out that just pinching off the flower bud is not enough. To keep basil from turning bitter, pinch back not only the bud but a few sets of leaves as well. An even better option: Rose introduced us to a new basil cultivar called Pesto Perpetuo, which acts almost like a perennial and does not flower. Not only that, but it is slightly more slug and snail resistant, more cold tolerant and even more drought tolerant than Genovese basil. If Daffodil Planter's pick an herb contest wasn’t already over, I’d take back my disdainful words about basil coasting by on the coattails of summer tomatoes and vote for this.
Pesto Perpetuo Basil
If like me you are somewhat careless in looking after your herb garden, consider planting chives. Chives behave like the canary in a coal mine, and are usually first to show stress due to lack of water or inadequately amended soil (nitrogen being the key nutrient for most herbs).
And now for the fun stuff.
Poor circulation? Try adding rosemary to your bath. And if you are curious as to whether the prostrate forms of rosemary often used in drought tolerant landscapes work well as culinary herbs, turns out it’s better to stick to upright forms, as they have a higher oil content.
Looking for an excuse to indulge in an extra glass of wine? Consider growing stinging nettles (carefully of course). Distilled into a tea, they work to cleanse the liver.
Interested in upping your chef cred? While thyme is a fairly mild herb, it can be a good alternative to salt if you are following a low sodium diet and also is effective at melding other herbs together.
And finally, the answer to the title of this post. Herbal folklore states that if a home has rosemary growing in front of it, then the woman of the house is in charge.
So what are you waiting for ladies? Let’s get planting!
Photos courtesy of Morningsun Herb Farm