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THEESSENTIAL HERB GARDEN Author: Hanna Swanepoel Buying dried herbs and spices can be convenient, but the flavour is not as intense as fresh herbs, which can affect the taste of your meals. Purchasing spices can also be costly and only last a year. Growing herbs and spices in a garden is a simple way to save money and have the most flavourful food possible. Many essential herbs can quickly grow at home with the proper care and attention. Replace spice rack staples with homegrown herbs for the freshest meals possible. Basil Frequently prune the plant to get the most basil possible. Basil is an essential ingredient in Italian cooking; use fresh basil in marinara and pesto sauces. You can also use whole or torn basil leaves in salads and vinaigrettes.
Cilantro Cilantro, also known as coriander, is an annual herb that people either love or hate, but it is a vital ingredient in many cuisines. Add fresh cilantro to guacamole, or finish curries and noodle dishes with finely chopped cilantro leaves. You can also use fresh cilantro in salads, smoothies, or juices.
Chives Add fresh chives to brighten tuna, chicken, potato, egg salads, and garnish baked potatoes, salads, soups, or deviled eggs. Combine chives and lemon juice to top seafood dishes or use chives in cream sauces and flavoured butter.
Lavender Lavender is a beautiful addition to any garden, boasting colourful flowers and a sweet fragrance. Although lavender is perhaps best known for relieving anxiety and stress and improving sleep, it can also be used in cooking. Make sure only to use a little lavender and work your way up to more as you develop a taste for it—too much can make food taste bitter.
Mint Almost all varieties of mint are quite invasive; they can quickly take over a garden if they're not given their own space to flourish. Make sure mint plants have their own space, separate from the rest of the plants, or grow them in pots to keep the plants contained. Mint needs a lot of sun and moist soil. Oregano Oregano is a staple in the kitchen and is known for its robust, woody flavour. Oregano goes best with chicken but can be used to spice up burgers or use in stews and sauces. The herbs unique flavour also makes it an excellent complement to many side dishes.
Parsley Most people think of parsley as the sprig of green on the side of their restaurant's main course, but it can be used for much more. Parsley has a robust flavour that allows it to complement many different foods. Add the herb to sauces, salads, or soups to reduce the need for salt. Parsley is also a great addition to stuffing.
Rosemary Rosemary is often used in Mediterranean cooking. Use rosemary sprigs to add a unique flavour to roasted meats, soups, or stews. Rosemary also goes well on pizzas and tomato sauces.
Sage Sage has soft, slightly fuzzy leaves and showy blooms, making it one of the more beautiful herbs. Sage has many uses in the culinary world, and the herb goes great with eggs, chicken, lamb, and beans. Add it to sauces, stews, and summer cocktails to freshen up your food.
Thyme Thyme is an aromatic plant staple in Italian and French cooking. While this herb goes best with hot peppers and eggplants, it has many applications in the kitchen. Add thyme to sauces, soups, or stews. Marinate meats in thyme or use them to flavour many different roast vegetables.
Turmeric As a staple of Indian cuisine, turmeric is an essential ingredient in curries. You can also use turmeric to season roasted vegetables, rice, or soups. Herbs and spices bought at grocery stores can be more expensive and have less flavour than fresh herbs. However, finding fresh herbs at the store can be challenging, and they are often quite costly if they are in stock. Save money and improve your cooking by growing fresh herbs in your garden.