Growing herbs has many advantages for the gardener. First of all there are are so many beneficial uses for herbs and there is nothing like fresh cut herbs from your kitchen herb garden for cooking, nothing else can compare. Even garden dried herbs for winter use are far superior than bottled grocery store selections.
Herbs can also add beauty and charm to your garden, mingling with other flowers they create interest and diversification within your plantings. Herbs can fill your garden with wonderful scents. Plant them along a pathway where you can brush past them on your travels. Many herbs also deter garden pests such as deer which do not like the fragrant leaves.
Herbs can also provide great amusement. You can craft yourself silly using herbs. Create your own herb oils, herb soaps, sachets, potpourri, seasonings and more. There is no end to the ideas and all make great gifts for giving.
Make a Herb Standard
The rosemary plant makes a great standard, probably one of the best plants for this activity. You can grow it into a tree like shape with its woody stem and needle like leaves. Start with a small plant ( even larger if the budget allows ) planted in a decorative container of about 6 inches. Place your plant in a sunny window, water regularly and allow to grow for about three months to triple in size. Pick off about 2/3 of the needle leaves starting from the bottom. Select a natural looking stake of about 2 feet, push into soil and attach to stem with soft ties. As the plant grows continue to tie it to the support stake. Continue growing your plant for about 3 more months. When you have reached your desired height, snip off the main terminal shoot at the very top of the plant. Continue to strip off any lower leaves that grow back. Trim stem ends to encourage branching to keep your plant nicely rounded and bushy. Use your fragrant trimmings in your cooking.
Turn Lavender Flowers into Scented Sachets
July is lavender prime time. Of all the kitchen herbs Lavender is one of the most fragrant and is loved by just about everyone. For whatever reason it seems to conjure up favourable memories.
The flowers dry very well on the stems, hung head down in an airy, dry place. Keep out of direct sunlight so as not to drain the color and the oils. Once the flowers are stripped from the stem, they can be used in many ways. Turn the flowers into scented sachets for closets or drawers. Using decorative fabric scraps, sew small pouches and fill with the dried lavender flowers. Add dried lavender to other scented dried petals such as roses, lemon balm, mint or ground orange peel and make a potpourri to fill your room with a wonderful sweet scent.
Make a Herb Wreath
Gather your herbs in a wide mix of colors and textures. Start with a staw wreath base for your form. Gather small bunches of herbs by wrapping them with floral wire. Leave a 3 inch tail of wire to poke into the wreath. Add bundles until the form is rounded and full. Easier yet, make a Herb Bouquet.
Make Herb Vinegar
Fill a 1 quart glass jar with 3 TB. of fresh herbs. Add your choice of vinegar to cover the herbs. Cover with a tight lid and store for about 1 to 2 months in a cool, dark area. Strain your vinegar and pour into clean bottles. Great herbs for vinegars are basil, lemon thyme, mint, rosemary and thyme.
Make Herb Butter
Soften 1 cup of unsalted butter and mix in 1 TB. of snipped fresh herbs. Try using thyme, parsley, chives or basil.