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Culinary Herb Gardening
Jeff Slokum

There is nothing more pleasing than walking right outside your kitchen door and finding all the spices you'll need for a tasty and fresh dinner. How about picking a bit of rosemary for those lamp chops, or cutting a bit of that fresh dill for that flounder you're baking, or pulling some fresh oregano leaves to add to that spaghetti sauce or snipping some fresh basal for a tomato, mozzarella cheese and basal salad. The availability of fresh herbs can add a real kick to your ordinary dishes and turn them into something special. Fresh herbs are also likely to help you boost your imagination in the kitchen.

One of the best things about an herb garden is that you don't need to be a gourmet cook to enjoy it, and it can be grown without a huge amount of space. Some people only grow three or four different types of herbs. If you are an apartment or condo dweller you can plant your herbs in a window box or in strawberry pots. You should know that herbs generally don't survive the winter outside left in plastic window boxes and pots. Their roots will freeze. If you have enough light inside you may be able to winter them inside, but they are so inexpensive it's easier to start a box again in the spring.

Most herbs are very easy to grow and do well with little care. They also become fuller and produce more the more you use them. Most herbs are perennial plants, meaning that when they are planted in the ground they will come back year after year. As your plants mature and get older you may need to start thinning them out.

Another fun thing to do with your herbs is to dry them to use during the winter. You can carefully cut bunches of herbs, trying not to disturb their leaves, and hang them inside to dry. The herbs are best cut mid day, when it has been very dry outside. Once they are dry they can be stored in zip lock bags in a dry and dark area. You will not want to crumble the leaves until you use them.

When you cook with herbs you will find that if you use fresh herbs you'll need to use more than you would of dried herbs. This is because dried herbs tend to have a stronger flavor.
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