Herbs are best fresh from the garden. It’s not just about taste

Nothing beats herbs fresh from garden

Store-bought tomatoes simply cannot compare to fresh picked. This holds true for

Store-bought tomatoes simply cannot compare to fresh picked. This holds true for green peas straight from the pod to your mouth.

If you think about it, discovering the difference in taste between fresh and what you were used to was probably the first step on the path to your garden.

This holds true for herbs as well. Rosemary straight from the bush and rubbed on roasting vegetables outshines what is available at the supermarket.

I bet your garden’s full to bursting about now, but try to find a corner for a few herbs and turn a ho-hum meal into a gourmet’s delight. Herbs are easy to grow because they are close to the wild state and don’t need mollycoddling like vegetables that have had bitter and hardiness bred out of them. Many herbs contain more antioxidants than fruits and vegetables, and fresh herbs have more than dried.

Mine grow well in a fertile bed in dappled shade, sharing the space with flowers, a tea plant and volunteer kale that keeps popping up. Perennials like oregano, chives and rosemary need their own bed and should be divided every few years as they can take over. Annuals like basil, dill and cilantro can be tucked in anywhere to provide fresh herbs all summer when sown every few weeks. In the fall you can try potting some up and setting them in a sunny window for winter use.

Harvest just as they begin to flower by cutting them down to just above the lowest set of leaves and many of them will re-grow. If they get away on you and flower like mine often do, go ahead and use them anyway as they’re still good. Tie them in bunches or put them in a labelled paper bag and hang in a cool, breezy area until quite dry. I toss out last year’s herbs at this point and refill my herb jars with the new batch.

Mind you, fresh herbs are not just about good taste. Centuries of experience have established that many have medicinal qualities as well.

This year I am growing some recommended by Dr. James A. Duke in his book The Green Pharmacy. There are some believed to slow down the aging process, so those interested can monitor the experiment by counting my wrinkles.

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