Written by David S.
Holiday food is the stuff of dreams, and learning to cook and grow herbs common in holiday foods is a fantastic adventure. In this blog, we look at common holiday herbs and spices and chat about how to grow them at home.
Herbs are a traditional part of almost every meal. If you are interested in growing herbs, holiday herbs are a small addition to a culinary or kitchen herb garden. Your herb garden can be tiny to huge, and you can grow herbs in the ground or containers. Another good thing about herb gardens is that many herbs are perennials so that you can enjoy them for years. Let’s get started!
Rosemary is a Mediterranean herb that has taken the world by storm. There are so many holiday recipes that call for rosemary. Those range from herb bread and roasted potatoes to holiday spritzers and adult beverages. Rosemary is easy to grow. You can start plants from cuttings or find young plants in all the Green Thumb Nursery’s five Southern California locations.
Soil Requirements — for rosemary, grow it in well-draining soil with a pH of 60.-7.0 As a Mediterranean plant, it is suited to long dry summers and wet winters. Rosemary is a tough herb and is drought tolerant. To help rosemary plants to thrive, water them when the top layer of soil dries out. In hot climates, 3-5 times per week. In milder temperatures, 1-2 times per week is good.
For newly planted plants, be sure to water them daily in warm weather. To prepare the soil for new plants, dig in aged compost or quality bagged soil amendments, such as FoxFarms Strawberry Fields Potting Soil or their FoxFarms Original Planting Mix. Both are available at Green Thumb Nursery. If you need to improve the drainage of your soil, FoxFarms Big and Chunky Perlite is a good choice. They also have products that contain coconut coir too.
There are many varieties of sage. As we discuss Sage, we mean Garden Sage, and you can use it fresh or dry it for use later. Sage has a fantastic range of uses around the holidays. It is one of the main ingredients in poultry seasoning, and it adds a lovely aroma to the air as it cooks. Sage is excellent in bread, but you can also make herb butter with sage which can become part of the basting sauce for turkey, chicken, duck, and goose. Sage herb butter is also excellent on garlic bread or as a top coating for freshly baked rolls. If you are a whiz with products like phyllo-dough, you can make unique savory delights with sage herb butter.
Growing sage is pretty straightforward. Like rosemary, sage loves well-draining soil and full sun. Sage has a bit of drought tolerance to it but thrives with regular watering. Once the plants become established, you can water when the top 3-6 inches of soil are dry or if you see the leaves wilting. In warmer climates, water sage 2-3 times per week or as needed.
You can grow sage in a pot or the ground. It makes an excellent and beautiful sprawling hedge. Mature sage plants can reach three feet in height and spread three-four feet wide. They are lovely in single cultivar groupings or mixed. There is a beautiful purple variety that I love.
Oregano is such a kitchen staple and is part of so many fabulous recipes. If you grow a summer garden, then make your tomato sauce. In the winter and during the holidays, there are just amazing things you can do with your tomato sauce. A key ingredient in tomato sauce is oregano. A very close cousin to oregano is marjoram. I grow them together because I use them together. They are lovely in sauces, herb bread, herb butter, and you can use them fresh or make dried herbs with them. As a non-traditional holiday meal, chicken cacciatore is a fantastic option, even more so when you use your tomato sauce from your garden.
Beyond tomato sauce is a myriad of uses for oregano. As a garden herb, it is also easy to grow. Like many herbs, well-drained soil is the key. I prefer to grow oregano in a pot as it can spread and become a pest. Start with a 2-3 gallon pot, add compost and potting soil along with some perlite. Aim for a ration of about 1/3 from each — compost, perlite, and potting soil. Mix the soil well and water it in before planting seedlings. 2-3 oregano plants will keep a kitchen well supplied with fresh oregano. You can also dry it, which is helpful as it thins during cold weather. Water every other day once established.
While the holidays are fast approaching, there is still time to get herbs in the ground and have a small harvest-ready when you need them. Some herbs, like rosemary, are slower growers than oregano. There are so many herbs that it is impossible to cover them all in such a short blog. Instead, we hope this inspires you to start a kitchen herb garden and explore the fantastic ways that herbs enrich our lives.
Other herbs to try growing include:
Another benefit of growing certain herbs is their seeds. Celery, fennel, and dill seeds are often part of everyday meals. One of the best pieces of advice about growing herbs is to grow many and explore their capabilities. Rosemary, for example, is a woody herb that you can toss right on the BBQ to add a beautiful smokey flavor to grilled meats.
Many herbs do well in pots, and Green Thumb Nursery has an impressive selection of pots. Please stop in and check out the available herbs and pots, browse through the bagged soil options, and be sure to talk with our plant experts. They are available to answer your questions, show you products, and give growing tips to make your herb garden successful.
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