There are only four seasons in which to grow herbs, but herbs are used for all sorts of seasonings. Most herbs are aromatic evergreen foliage. Some might be flowers, flower buds, stems, bark, seeds, roots or really any plant part. Those with the strongest flavors might be classified as spices. Herbs are used for culinary purposes. Many might be used medicinally. Some just smell pretty.
Most herbs are best fresh, like mint, chive, cilantro and parsley. Bay leaf and lavender are herbs that are more commonly used dried rather than fresh. Sage, rosemary and oregano can be used either dried or fresh, depending on the desired effect. Yet, for many of us, dried herbs are used merely because of convenience. They are available when their fresh versions are out of season.
Many gardening texts suggest that herbs that need to be dried should be collected and dried about now. That is true in the sense that most happen to be ready about now. Some might have been better earlier in the year. A few might need to mature a bit more. There are probably many that get collected and dried when it is convenient for us, or when overgrown plants need to be pruned.
Vegetative rosemary stems should be collected before they bloom again. Obviously, that might not be right now. It blooms in random phases. The trick is to catch it between phases. Lavender flowers get collected as they finish bloom. Oregano is an odd one, since the vertical stems with flower buds on top get cut for drying while the sprawling growth on the ground is good for fresh use.
Because rosemary is available throughout the year, it is not often dried. Even while in full bloom, there is plenty of foliage to go around. When it gets dried, it is probably because the dried flavor is preferred for a specific recipe. Other herbs are likely to be dried because they are not available during part of the year. Many herbs are annuals or perennials that die back through the winter. Drying the last bits of cilantro may not seem like a good idea now, but might be useful in winter.
4 thoughts on “Herbs Are For All Seasons”
It is essential for me to dry many of the herbs grown alongside the vegetables here in the northeast. Lemon balm, tarragon, basil, cilantro, several varieties of thyme, dill ( to name a few). Also, quite a smattering of flower petals like calendula and St. John’s wort and chamomile for making salves and tinctures ( and teas). Roots, as well and some berries ( elderberry, chokeberry) dried and stored for winter use.
Tons of basil made into pesto for the freezer and certainly, it is a delight to have fresh herbs while they last to add to cooking. For us, it won’t be that much longer before all the herbaceous growth declines and decays, a couple more months for collecting! Do you grow many herbs for fresh use or storage? Do many people request them in the landscapes you provide? Funny, we are always surprised how many people don’t grow their own herbs or if they do, never harvest them for use. They may grow basil or dill but in winter buy dried basil from the grocery store.
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Well, I am no landscape designer. I grew a few herbs in my home garden, and some just grew there incidentally.
Several herbs are popular for landscaping purposes. Trailing rosemary is a popular ground cover. Sadly, many people who do not garden have rosemary growing in their landscapes, but do not know it. It is sad how disconnected people are with their gardens. Like you say, many people have the herbs available, but do not harvest them, and might even purchase them in a supermarket, just because they do not know any better.
I love growing herbs and finally have some sunny spots for my favorites!
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Almost all herbs like warm and sunny exposures. There are not many shade tolerant herbs.