CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — The best seasonings are fresh herbs. Compare fresh parsley and parsley flakes in your cupboard. Pesto needs the fresh sweet basil and what is homemade salsa without the cilantro?
All that is needed for most herbs to thrive is lots of sun, good soil drainage and occasional harvesting. Most herbs will become straggly if they do not get enough sun. Here are a few tips we’ve learned over the years about some of the popular herbs.
If you are interested in supporting pollinators, plant enough herbs for your use and a few that can be left to flower.
Plant extra dill and parsley for the colorful black swallowtail butterfly caterpillars to munch on.
Cilantro will bolt when the weather turns warm. For fresh cilantro throughout the season practice succession planting. Plant a new pot every three weeks and it will be ready when the prior one begins to flower. Leave the white flowers for the pollinators.
Plant mints in pots. Mints are notorious for spreading with underground roots. Once they spread, they are difficult to remove since a small piece of root left behind will grow into a plant.
Harvest throughout the growing season to encourage branching and new growth. Cut before it flowers on the plants you are using but let it flower on others for the pollinators.
Wishing for warmer weather and getting out to grill? Include perennials such as rosemary, sage, oregano, and thyme to use for grilling. Use them to make a marinade for use in preparing your meat. Tie a bundle of herbs to a wooden utensil and use as a basting brush. Soak some stems in water and put them on the coals when ready to cook and close the lid. No lid? Just enjoy the aroma. The sense of smell contributes to how we taste and enjoy our food.
Our Greenhouse Team is growing sweet basil, chives, cilantro, dill, lemongrass, Greek oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, and thyme for our plant sale. Visit the herb table and meet the Herb Team. We plan to have some recipe handouts on hand to share.
The Master Garden Plant Sale on May 20 starts at 9 AM at 145 Franklin Farm Lane, Chambersburg. Free on-site parking. Vegetables, herbs, sun and shade plants, annual flowers, and more. Credit cards, checks or cash. Watch for updates with more tips and information.
–Carol Kagan, Franklin County Master Gardener