Herbs: Growing & Cooking

May 08, 2023

Fresh herbs will add extra flavor to your cooking and transform your recipes into food that is delicious and nutritious. Properly grown herbs are packed with valuable nutrients and antioxidants. We will discuss how to grow herbs and how to preserve them for future use.

How to Grow Herbs

Growing nutrient and antioxidant rich herbs starts with healthy soil. Healthy soil is teaming with beneficial fungi, bacteria, and microbes. Incorporate Plant Right Compost into your herb beds to raise the level of organic matter. To increase the soil bioactivity, drench the soil with Plant Right Biolife 800.

Drainage is another important aspect of growing herbs. Make sure to plant your herbs in raised elevated planting beds or berms if you have clay soils or low-lying areas. Herbs also do well in containers. When planting in containers use quality peat based potting soil, such as PlantRight Potting Mix.

Most herbs prefer full sun, although a half day of sun is sufficient. There are some herbs like dill and cilantro that will benefit from shade during warmer weather.

Most herbs prefer moderate soil fertility. An Organic fertilizer will give herbs the nutrients they need while maintaining healthy soil. The application of Plant Right Biolife 800 will contribute to soil health and increase the nutrient density of the herbs.

Winter mulch is important for insulating perennial herbs. Apply 3–4” of mulch over the top of perennial herbs in late November to early December. Remove half of the mulch in early April, leaving 1–2” of mulch for the growing season

How to Preserve Herbs:

Drying – works well for many varieties of herbs, for example: oregano, thyme, and sage.

  • Harvest sprigs (herb stem with leaves still connected to the stem)
  • Gently wash the sprigs and place them on a paper towel to dry. Be sure to dry them thoroughly to prevent mildew.
  • Take several sprigs and use a rubber band to band one end of the sprigs together.
  • Place the bundle of sprigs in a small paper bag with the rubber banded end facing upward and level with the top of the bag.
  • Gather the top of the paper bag around the rubber banded end of the stems and use another rubber band to hold the bag around the stems.
  • Hang the bag in a cool dry area for 2 to 3 weeks then shake bag vigorously until all the leaves fall off the stems.
  • Open the bag, discard the banded stems, and place the dried leaves in an airtight, labeled container for storage.

Freezing – works well for leafy herbs like cilantro, parsley, and tarragon

  • Harvest herbs gently wash them and place them on a paper towel to dry.
  • Mince the herbs to desired consistency and measure out a teaspoon or tablespoon depending on the herb and how you like to use it. Mild herbs like Basil use more and for strong herbs like oregano use less.
  • Place the minced herbs in an ice cube tray, add enough water to cover the herbs, and place the ice cube tray in the freezer.
  • After cubes are frozen put them into a freezer bag and label it with the date, type of herb and amount in each cube.

Growing delicious herbs is easy and can add extra flavor to your cooking year-round. Best of all properly grown herbs contain valuable nutrients and antioxidants. Raise the level of your cooking by growing your own fresh herbs. 

 Written By 'Botanical Brian' Pirtle, Horticulturist