ZEST IN SUMMER - START AN HERB GARDEN
If you’re new to gardening or just looking for something different to try this year, nothing pays off more than planting an herb garden. Not only will you enjoy the beauty of these lovely plants, their fresh-picked flavor will add zest to your meals all summer long.
Pick your plants
There are several things to consider when choosing what to plant. Of course, when it comes to planting edible herbs, you’ll want to choose those with flavors you enjoy. But to make sure you get maximum enjoyment from your garden, consider the following factors when choosing what to plant.
Annual or Perennial? Perennial herbs come back year after year, annuals need to be replanted. Which is which depends in part on your USDA plant hardiness zone. If you live within driving distance of Brockport, home of Lagom, you’re probably in Zone 6. But you can double check which zone you’re in here on the USDA website. Once you know your zone, keep it in mind when choosing your plants. For example, in Zone 6, chives are perennials, but basil is an annual.
Pest resistance. It’s awfully disappointing to spend time selecting, planting, and tending your plants, only to have local wildlife beat you to enjoying their fresh flavors. In Zone 6, deer can decimate a garden. Luckily, many herbs are deer-resistant. Consider planting chives, oregano, rosemary, sage, English thyme, and certain varieties of lavender or mint, suggests Gardening Know How.
Caution: Check to see if the herb you want to plant has a tendency to spread. For example, mint can spread and chives can too, if you leave the bloom on the plant allowing seeds to fall out into your garden. Of course, walking through mint gone wild can be pleasant, but mowing a lawn of chives can be a bit much. Consider putting plants with a tendency to spread in a raised bed or planter.
Last frost date. Before you put your plants in the ground, you’ll want to know the last frost date for your region. That’s when you’ll know your new plants won’t be affected by weather that’s too cold for them, so it’s safe to plant. You can check for your last frost date at with a look-up tool at The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
Seed or plant? It’s probably a little late to start growing herbs from seed this year, because you’d need to give your seeds 8-12 weeks indoors to grow before transplanting them outside. But when you start planning for next year, be sure to check out the amazing Whole Seed Catalog for ideas. If you’re growing from plants, consider visiting our Brockport neighbor, Sara’s Garden Center. It’s a treat just walking around the grounds and taking everything in.
Get ready to plant. Once you’ve picked out your plants, and you know it’s safe to put them in the ground, you’re ready to plant. Be sure to take note of planting instructions such as how much sunlight each plant needs and how far apart to space each plant. Once they’re in the ground, you’ll just need to water them as the ground gets dry and watch them grow.
Enjoy your herbs. Once the plants are thriving, you can start to enjoy their flavors. Fresh mint is great in iced tea, chives can perk up scrambled eggs, and basil adds fresh flavor to pizza or pastas. If you find that you have more fresh herbs than you can use, you can dry them for later use. Just be sure to cut them before they flower. Learn more about drying herbs at Taste of Home.