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Top 5 Herbs for your Kitchen Garden

Posted on 17th Oct 2012 @ 1:52 PM

Herbalicious – Top 5 herbs for your kitchen garden

Fresh herbs used in our cooking, can make an “alright” dish, “delicious”. Not only do we get a flavour sensation from herbs in our food we also get huge health benefits from these flavour bombs. Growing herbs in a pot or in the veggie garden or even amongst the flowers will give us a kitchen garden that can be picked as needed for cooking or salads. A great present for someone special is to put 4 or 5 different herbs in a pot and give him or her their own kitchen garden.

Parsley who can live without this herb? Parsley is one of the most versatile herbs used in cooking. Some of us like Italian (flat leaf) parsley and some of us prefer the slightly more bitter curly leaf parsley. Whichever you one you like, parsley is a storehouse of nutrients and has great health benefits in the form of high levels of vitamin A, vitamin C and Vitamin K as well as being a great source of iron and folate. Italian parsley tends to hold up better in cooking and is therefore is usually preferred for hot dishes, where I find that either curly or Italian parsley are fabulous scattered through a salad. Grow both of these beauties in full sun in pots or in the garden, and pick as needed.

Basil with tomatoes, a little drizzle of olive oil, and maybe a dash of balsamic vinegar, delicious. Basil plants contribute to so many different types of dishes in the kitchen that it is a must in any kitchen garden. Most of us are more familiar with the sweet or Italian basil that has large, soft, fragrant, and lush foliage and is the basis for many Italian dishes including pesto. There are many varieties of basil that can be chosen for your kitchen garden from Greek basil, which is a very pungent variety, Lemon basil which has a mild lemon flavour, Thai basil which is popular for its mild flavours in vegetable and chicken dishes for Malaysian and Indonesian cooking. For your all rounder I would stick to the sweet or Italian basil, as it is so versatile. Like parsley, grow your basil in full sun in the ground or pots and pick as needed.

Thyme is such a versatile plant with approximately 350 varieties. Thyme can be used in the garden in a number of ways for borders, low hedging, use creeping thyme in the cracks in pavers or in rockeries, the list is endless. For our kitchen garden the two most popular varieties are the common thyme and lemon thyme. This hardy plant will become a staple in your cooking, everything from use in salads, flavouring in cooking, sprinkled over potatoes with a bit of olive oil and roasted, this plant is an all round winner. Thyme also has fantastic antibacterial properties and is beneficial for sore throats, colds and ear aches, place a couple of sprigs of thyme in hot water with lemon and honey and let steep for a couple of minutes and then sip. Easy to dry, just pick your sprigs of thyme and hang them out of direct sun but in a well ventilated spot and when the leaves are dry, strip from the stems into an airtight container.

Chives are known as the Sociable onion in the onion family. With a delicate flavour this is a fantastic herb for your everyday cooking. Chives will thrive in many areas in the garden although they do very well in window boxes or pots. Chives will also produce a beautiful pink pompom flower, which is also edible and looks great as a garnish or on salads. With high concentrations of vitamin A and C along with iron, calcium, and magnesium and mild antibiotic properties, chives can be used in almost any dish from vegetables, dips, salads, garlic or herb breads, the list goes on. To harvest your chives take a pair of scissors and snip from the outside of the clump, down close to the base, which will help increase productivity. Keep in a full sun position and make sure that you keep the soil damp by watering every couple of days

Rosemary is a woody perennial that is known for it’s drought tolerance and is a plant that can have many uses in the garden, not just for cooking. Some people use rosemary as a feature in the garden by keeping it pruned and compact, which is also why it is widely used as a hedge in some backyards. With fragrant leaves that are synonymous with a good Aussie lamb roast, rosemary is a fantastic herb marinade for all types of meats, casseroles, stews and even chopped finely and used in bread. I love picking the stems of the rosemary plant and stripping off the leaves and using them as skewers for meat and cooking them on the BBQ. Grow your rosemary in full sun, with well drained soil and to maintain it’s shape then prune in spring, and feed with garden gold a couple of times a year.