Lavender, Tarragon, and Basil… OH MY!

This year, we decided to grow more herbs for cooking. We have quite an assortment: lavender, chives, parsley, sage, tarragon, basil, cilantro, chamomile, thyme, oregano, mint, and lemon balm. We’ve also had mixed results with them.

Lavender
Greer insisted on cutting last year’s lavender down to nubs, which made me crazy. Until I saw this year’s beautiful growth, which is now drying in the kitchen. Not only is it beautiful to look at, but on hot days, it provides soothing aromatherapy for “fussy babies.” (According to my old bubble bath, anyway.)

Chives
Some chives made it through the winter and finally grew to an edible size. We also scattered old seeds, and they seem to be doing okay, just a bit slow.

Parsley (Italian flat-leaf)
The parsley took over the herb bed and turned all woody, despite our efforts to harvest it multiple times. It looked a bit weird, too, so we decided to start over.

Sage
We purchased a seedling for this, which seems to be doing okay so far.

Tarragon
I love this anise-tasting herb in salad dressings! I harvested some last week and dehydrated it. Hopefully it didn’t lose too much flavor in the drying process.

Basil
We grew some basil from free seeds that Sunset Magazine sent us (to try and win us back). We also purchased organic seedlings from Safeway because it cracked us up to buy them at the grocery store. The Safeway basil is kind of puny looking now, but the Sunset basil was huge. We harvested some this morning, and ended up with 5 ounces of fresh leaves. I froze them in olive oil, and we’ll get them out when we’re ready to make pesto. Yum!

Cilantro
I’ve not been fast enough to harvest the cilantro, and it keeps bolting. Not so yummy then. I think I’ll be more on top of things when our tomatoes start coming in, since we’ll want the cilantro for fresh salsa. We sow cilantro seeds every few weeks.

Chamomile
Last year’s chamomile went to seed, so we had an abundance of chamomile this year! I harvested a lot earlier this summer and dehydrated it for tea. However, it started to mold in the plastic container I used, so I had to throw it out. I’m storing the second batch in a glass jar, so hopefully it will last longer!

Thyme
We didn’t think the seedling we started was growing fast enough, so we bought a seedling as well. Both are now growing beautiful, delicate leaves, and I used it last night in some sauteed zucchini and carrots with butter.

Oregano
The oregano grew to humongous and then went to seed. One book I have said that you can harvest it after it starts to flower, so I’m experimenting with that. But most of it went into the organic recycling bin.

Mint
We have four kinds of mint that are all growing well in pots. We will harvest and dry it tomorrow, and add it to our “porch mint” jar for tea.

Lemon balm
I have no idea how to use this herb, but we decided to grow some from seed anyway! It’s lovely, and looks like mint.

What are your favorite cooking herbs, and what do you like to do with them?

–Crystal

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