No Green Thumb Needed!
Herbs hold the keys to the soul of any food. They enhance the taste, the aroma, and the look of any plate prepared and served. At least 99% of my meal presentations pictured at From My Kitchen To The World will have any fresh herb. Dried herbs can do the trick when it comes to taste, but I am a fan of ‘freshness.’
Green thumb or not, herb gardens are the easiest way to bring your kitchen, yard, or porch to life. When shopping for any plant, read about its ‘cold hardiness’ on the label. Honestly, I am THAT person who unintentionally kills most plants, but with time I’ve learned a few tricks to keep at least my herbs alive and well. With your homegrown herbs and pantry spices, you will be sure to impress your friends and family in the kitchen.
For your reference: Pensacola is in zone 9a
Choose Wisely: Keep it Simple
Rosemary: The strongest of all. Can survive cold winters and hot summers. They make great decorative plants and serve as a mosquito repellent. They thrive when planted in-ground but also do well in pots.
Italian Flat and Curly Parsley: Will survive up to 20 degrees F, but covering them at night is recommended. They might get dehydrated during the extreme summer heat, so daily watering is crucial.
German Thyme/ Lemon Thyme: It will survive the winter but would be happiest if stored away or covered during polar blasts.
Basil: Not likely to survive at temperatures below 40 degrees F. You will need to plant new ones every year. If your plant grows too much, make pesto with all the leaves before the first freeze of winter kills it.
Chives: Cover the plant if temperatures drop below 40 degrees.
Mint a.k.a Yerba Buena: Takes over your garden bed, so plant it on its own. It does well year-round.
Keeping Your Herbs Alive
- Water: Hydration is key for a successful herb garden. ONLY water early in the morning or in the early evening. I am not great at remembering to water my herbs, so I chose a location where the sprinklers will reach them daily. You can also purchase a simple irrigation system at Lowes or Home Depot. If you have them on your porch or inside the house, only water them when the dirt has lost moisture. Self-watering planters are great!
- Sunlight: Make sure your herbs get 4 -6 hours of direct sunlight. Summers are HOT in Pensacola, which can be detrimental to your plant if exposed over 6 hrs to the sun. Hydration is key!
- Fertilization: Buy an organic fertilizer and apply it to the dirt while planting your herbs. From here on, only sprinkle more – as directed in the container’s instructions- every 2 months or so. KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN AND PETS.
- Pest Control: Keep bugs and larva away by spraying organic store-bought anti-pest spray or by making your own. FYI: Most home remedies need to be applied daily.
Tips and Tricks
- Pensacola: Falls under Zone 9 for plant cold hardiness. Keep in mind when buying perennials or annuals.
- Planting Date: Start working on your herb garden in March. Prune your old herbs and add new ones.
- In-ground vs. pots: I prefer plantings my herbs in-ground (raised beds work great) because it gives the roots more room to grow. It also helps them survive longer despite the weather changes. Add mulch to retain moisture and protect the roots from the cold.
- Easy instant compost: Gather your eggshells and used coffee grounds in an airtight container throughout the week. Toss them in the blender with water and pour them inside a bucket of water. Pour the mix around your herbs. Your garden will thank you!
- Buy 2 or more already sprouted herbs of the same kind. Prices range from $3.50-$9.00.
- Storage: To extend the shelf life of your herbs after cutting, store them in the fridge in a Ziploc bag with a piece of paper towel inside or chop them and freeze in an ice cube tray with olive oil.
- Use one of your herbs, or use them all! Infuse oil to dip freshly baked bread or drizzle over pasta, rice, meat, fish, vegetables, etc.
Herbed Butter is also a great way to put your herbs to good use. Watch and learn!
Follow me @frommykitchentotheworld for more tips and ideas on how to use your herbs.
Comment below with your questions or your gardening stories…