Herb Garden Tips: Creating An Home Herb Garden

The hard work of herb gardening has been completed.  You tended your herbs and watched them grow into mature, useful plants.  Now the fun begins as you get to use your herbs from your home herb garden.  It is a little more complicated than buying a little jar off the supermarket shelf, but it is infinitely more satisfying as well.

You will need to harvest your herbs before you can actually use them.  You have to be very careful when you pick them to get the most from your herbs.  You don’t want to damage and strip them of their essential oils.  Make sure the weather conditions are correct.  A dry and calm day on a midsummer morning will give you the highest concentration of essential oils.  Fewer oils are produced on wet or humid days so choose your harvesting wisely.  Pick only a portion of your plant approximately a third, you need to leave some of the plant to help it grow again.  Always check your herbs incase they are damaged or infested with insects.

Preserving your herbs can be done in three ways:

1.         Drying

2.         Freezing

3.         Preserving them in a salt or vinegar.

When drying herbs, bundle six to twelve stems together and remove any foliage near the base of the stems and secure the bundle with a string. Hang away from sunlight in a cool area.  To dry individual leaves, place them on a screen or rack and turn them often so they dry properly.  Some people claim appliances such as dehydrators and microwaves are a good way to dry herbs, but the results are not as good.

If you prefer to freeze your herbs make sure you cut them into small pieces then place them on a tray.  Once they are frozen keep them in the freezer in a container or bag until you are ready to use them.  They can be frozen in a small amount of water in ice cube trays as well.

Using salt or vinegar to preserve your herbs is another good way.  Mint, basil and tarragon are a great example of herbs preserved in vinegar.  Make sure once you have decided which herbs you want preserving in vinegar or oil to keep them refrigerated until you need them.

You may not want to preserve all of your harvested herbs.  Instead, you may want to use some of them straight from the garden.  An important thing you must do before using herbs in fresh recipes is cleaning your herbs.  Place them in a bowl filled with cool water, add two table spoons of salt and watch as it drives away insects without causing any damage to the plant. To dry the herbs, use a salad spinner.

You will need to do some more research about your home herb garden as every herb you are thinking of using will be different.  They will require different elements and specific needs to help them grow and thrive.