Please Weigh In-Your 'must haves' for Kitchen Garden

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

Hello All
I've a small (est. 6 feet x 4 feet) sunny space located literally a step from my kitchen's back door.

I use this small area to grow herbs for flavoring my recipes. I'd like to grow everything and anything and in large numbers but space doesn't permit. What are your favorite and most versatile herb choices to spice up you dishes? If you could pick just a few to grow...what couldn't you do without and why? I am interested in herbs that will do well in the southeast keeping in mind the very small planting area. Thanks ahead of time for your input.

Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

Quote from missingrosie :
Hello All
I've a small (est. 6 feet x 4 feet) sunny space located literally a step from my kitchen's back door.

I use this small area to grow herbs for flavoring my recipes. I'd like to grow everything and anything and in large numbers but space doesn't permit. What are your favorite and most versatile herb choices to spice up you dishes? If you could pick just a few to grow...what couldn't you do without and why? I am interested in herbs that will do well in the southeast keeping in mind the very small planting area. Thanks ahead of time for your input.


That's a lot of space, if you plant it all in herbs, you will need to give 90% away.

Chives are versatile and don't get too huge - kinda tall so ,maybe put them in the middle so they don't shade something shorter. Like them in scrambled eggs and almost anywhere you wan't a garlic/onion/leek flavor.

Be careful with mint. It will takeover a bed if you aren't careful. It's nice in iced tea though.

Rosemary makes a huge bush, be careful where you put it and trim it back.

think about your favorite dishes and what they call for. I'm sure you'll get many other replies.

This message was edited Jul 29, 2011 10:51 PM

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

Lucky
Had not considered chives. Forgot about it actually but definitely will try it for our weekend omlets and potato frittatas. I think I would use it in many dishes.
Rosemary would not be on the favs list -- never could abide it or sage. I discovered that after I grew it. I love celery seed, but more sense financially to purchase. I have thought about tarragon - I love it in many dishes -but have not explored if it would do well here. One year all I grew all types of basil...basil coming out our ears! I snuck a miniture pepper plant in there. Veggie take up a lot of space maybe that spot more like 6x3.



This message was edited Jul 30, 2011 9:04 AM

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

I keep parsley, rosemary (which we love), and basil in a rectangular planter by the kitchen door. In the winter I bring the planter in on the porch, which has plexiglas panels that we use to cover the screens when it's cold. The basil usually doesn't make it over the winter but the parsley and rosemary do. Then we have an herb section in the part of the main garden that's closest to the house, and there I keep thyme, tarragon (which overwintered this year, surprisingly!), sage, chives, cilantro, two different basils, and three different oreganos. Sometimes marjoram but I rarely use that.

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

Which three oreganos? If you had to pick just one - which?

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

We have Greek, Mexican, and one other type whose name escapes me. The Mexican seems most like the herb we buy as oregano in the stores. We just wanted to compare them, so we got several types.

Shawnee Mission, KS(Zone 6a)

The single plant herbs that we grow are rosemary, golden sage, regular sage, Lemon thyme, thyme, golden oregano, and greek oregano. Every year we put in several short rows of several kinds of basil. This year we have genovese, pistou, columner (one plant), and cinnamon. We also plant a small batch of dill.

We keep spearment, peppermint, and julip mint in a seperate earth box. They are invasive and hard to kill if they get into the ground. Theoregano and chives also spread but generally are easy to keep under control.

We also have parsley in an earth box with a fence around it to keep out the rabbits and woodchucks. The parsley is a binannual and is winter hardy in our area.

We have a non-hardy rosemary and bay leaf in containers. We move these containers into the house each fall.

We dry the following herbs for winter use: Parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary, basil, and mint. If the bay leaf gets big enough we may start drying it for use also.

BTW - Here's our easy drying method. Cut the herbs, wash, and drain. Allow them to air dry or put in a salad spinner for a short while to get most of the water off. Put each herb type into a seperate brown bag, fold the top over, and set on the dryer. When the herbs are dry clen the leaves off the stem and put into ziplocks bags.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

We have a small bay tree that isn't very happy, but I'm hoping it will rally and produce leaves for the kitchen. I like having an organic source for my herbs.

I grow Basil Monstruoso and Basilic Marseillais. The Monstruoso has very large leaves and a regular basil flavor; the Marseillais has smaller leaves and a spicier flavor. But I use them interchangeably in recipes that call for basil, and for pesto.

Susan, I like your drying method. Sounds really easy!

Shawnee Mission, KS(Zone 6a)

It's easy. We have pets and I got tired of leaves all over the kitchen when we were using the hanging method. The paper bag method keeps the herbs clean and I don't have stuff all over the floors. We use brown paper bags from the grocery store.

I'm not familar with the two basils that you are using. I'll have to go look them up.

The bayleaf was not happy this winter. It's doing better snce being outside. According to the bolg I am growing it wrong. It's in terracotta, not mulched, not in rich soil, and is not getting watered daily. http://theherbgardener.blogspot.com/2008/06/bay-laurel.html

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Tarragon... REAL tarragon, not Mexican or Russian tarragon. That's a MUST in my kitchen garden. Most of the other basic culinary herbs I also grow, or can purchase a bit in the stores if they fail. Only rosemary will not over-winter for me here, nor survive in a pot inside thanks to my cats, winter dryness, and lack of light.

I grew a bay in Asheville, zone 7a, and lost half of it to winter-kill in the ground. I gave the struggling plant to a DG'er in FL...

Longboat Key, FL(Zone 9b)

I freeze parsely in a clump and whenever I need it just shave off with kitchen knife.

Basil is best stored in OO and kept in the fridge. You use OO with all dishes where you use basil.

Dill is best stored in vinegar in the fridge. Again most dishes you make with dill calls for a bit of Vinegar.

I have grown pretty much everything in Zone 5 except Bay Leave. Will try it here in Fl.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

I use basil in dishes where I wouldn't use olive oil, such as in tomato sauce, so I like it frozen best.

Shawnee Mission, KS(Zone 6a)

We tried frozen last year and both of us hated the texture & flavor. Because of that I would suggest that you test it before you go to freezing all of the basil. We've moved back to drying all of the herbs.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

That's interesting. It probably all depends on your planned end use. I mostly use mine to add to sauces and other cooked items, or else for pesto, and it works well for all of those frozen.

Shawnee Mission, KS(Zone 6a)

Could be we processed it wrong. We used it in cooked food. Was not a good thing. With the dried everytime we use it in cooking it's like summer all over again.

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7a)

I would recommend planting mint in a container then placing that container inside another one (nested style) with a piece of mesh over the larger/outer containers drainage hole and place it on a paver. I'd pull the inside pot out periodically and trim off any roots that you may see coming out the bottom of the inner pot.

Mint took over a 12x12 area of our backyard in NM from a tiny 4 inch pot type of division. Dad would just let it get about a foot tall then mow it down about once a month. Lord, our backyard smelled so good but it was terribly invasive.

Shawnee Mission, KS(Zone 6a)

I bet it smelled good when it was mowed.

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7a)

Oh yes:) Even the neighbors commented on it! Much nicer than the other smell our yard generated from peach trees ripening/over ripening mid July with 100+ temps:lol: At first yummy--then blech! Hot peach, too sweet then sour from spoilage--never could get all of them picked up because of all the bee activity.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Missingrosie ~ reading back through this thread and wondering how your kitchen garden did?

With personal preferences, I'd agree with most of the suggestions above.

There is one that I'd add. We love a leaf celery or par-cel. A celery flavored parsley that is wonderful when add to cooked dishes and tasty when dried and added as an accent to cooked foods. Again, it is a biennual and a beautiful plant too.

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

Hi Pod
Digested all the responses (thanks to all) and made plans for the planting this year. It was already August when I posted and so too late. I did clean out the bed and compost.

I am going to grow invasives in the nestled pots as suggested right outside the kitchen door. Going to put a tomato or two there too. ( deer) In the patch on the ground outside the porch, I plan the chives and several types of basil, parsley several types, and sage and tarragon and dill (it wont make it with the butterflies...but I will do it) I love dill. Now dreaming of spring

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

How about some edible bloomers too? Will nastursiums grow in your area? They are too cool weather minded for me to grow but are tasty.

Another bloomer that is pretty and pretty is Calendula. Pineapple sage I love, but it blooms late here. Same with Hibiscus roselle which both make great teas.

Looking forward to seeing your kitchen garden next year.

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

No I hadn't thought of edible bloomers. Not sure it would survive the deer ---unless it had fragrance which seems to deter.

I find that I grow the sage each year but don't use it too often. I hate the smell of it and also rosemary. Sometimes I grab a of it for a soup. Also, will chop and mix with fried fresh mangos or peaches and mushroomss and sweet onions and red pepper for a fish topping. Not sure it adds much - not like the dill and tarragon do.. Pineapple sage named for a different flavor or the growth habit?

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

I don't like sage either but when you crush the pineapple sage leaves they are a strong pineapple smell and flavor. It is a salvia and so wonderful in tea and desserts. http://www.herbcompanion.com/Herb-Profiles/HERB-To-KNOW-PINEAPPLE-SAGE.aspx

I love rosemary for the structure it adds to a garden and for touchy, feely fragrance but no, I don't care for it in cooking either. It reminds me of pine and I can't get past that in cooked dishes.

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

EXACTLY. I have planted around the screened porch rosemary because liked the form when young. Then it went nuts and did't look good and I wouldn't cook with it.

The pineapple sage sounds interesting. I will check it out.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Quoting:
I have thought about tarragon - I love it in many dishes -but have not explored if it would do well here


French tarragon is a perennial herb that cannot be grown from seed. I've tried growing it in pots here in NC zone 7b without being able to successfully winter-over it. I've ordered another plant for delivery in May from Johnny's Selected Seeds to give it a try in the soil.

My favorites are: Common sage with chicken. Rosemary with pork (my Rosemary is currently in bloom.) Greek Oregano with tomato dishes. English Thyme with beef. French tarragon with fish. Mint (in a large pot) to go with English peas and lamb.

My hubby loves Parsley with everything, and I grow Sweet Basil for my Italian neighbors.

I don't bother growing chives because wild onions grow like weeeds all over this neighborhood!

Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

for the deer problem, could you use one of these? :

http://www.amazon.com/Contech-CRO101-Scarecrow-Activated-Sprinkler/dp/B000071NUS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1328895137&sr=8-1

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

I have no personal experience with the scarecrow. But neighbor did. With scarecrow located very close to front entrance along with motion lights. Thanks to the lights, on warm summer nights, the deer were able to see real good while they ran in and out and in and back out of the fun sprinkler!

Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

that's funny! I suppose during a drought, some animals would welcome the water!

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

HoneybeeNC, I successfully grew french tarragon in my Asheville, NC garden... and also now here in SW VA. one zone ( more like 1-1/2) colder.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Last year my tarragon came back on its own; I was very surprised. I have a little herb garden and several things overwintered. The sage always does, but I also had some French thyme resprout.

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7a)

I'm trying marjoram and orange thyme this year and cutting celery. Might try tucking a couple of small strawberry plants in the mixed herb container and see how that goes and maybe a couple of violas. I believe the viola flower is edible too.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

I like marjoram but have never been successful growing it or the French Tarragon. Yes... the violet (viola) is edible and pretty too. Here they only bloom in spring and are starting to bloom already.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

darius - thanks for sharing your success at growing French tarragon.

This year I plan to grow it in the ground. I think my problem was that the roots froze when I grew it in pots.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Honeybee, my potted thyme does that too, so now I always have some in the ground.

Shawnee Mission, KS(Zone 6a)

Someone once told me that for plants to survive the winter in an uninsulated container, the plants have to be two zones hardier than where the container is located. ie live in Zone 5 then plant Zone 3 in your containers.

The thyme we have is planted up against the house under the house overhang with full south sun exposure all day. Dry and lots of sun. They love it there.

The plan is to add French Tarragaon to the garden this year. I''ll let you know how it goes.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

SusanKC - your suggestion regarding potted plants makes sense. Thanks for the tip.

I have English thyme growing just outside the backdoor. It gets very little sun because it's shielded by the porch and faces North. Despite being grown in hard red clay, and never watered (except by rain), it has managed to survive and gets bigger every year. The dogs run through it, and we walk on it! I wish every "edible" was this easy to grow ^^_^^

This message was edited Feb 13, 2012 10:49 AM

FU, United States(Zone 9b)

Lemon Thyme, tastes great 'diced-up' and put in or onto chicken or seafood.

Dill, great on ham or seafood.

Clay Center, KS(Zone 5b)

Nothing unusual here, just rosemary, lots of basil, parsley, cilantro, chives, sage..can't seem to keep tarragon from one year to the next, and although we love dill, I can't seem to plant enough to stay ahead of the black swallow tail caterpillars.

Brea, CA

Right now I am trying to grow cacao. I heard it has so many health benefits.

Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

Quote from stuartkarim :
Right now I am trying to grow cacao. I heard it has so many health benefits.


If you EVER have a chance to visit Cozumel, you MUST visit Chocolates Kaokao ( http://www.chocolateskaokao.com/ )

it was a lot of fun and the folks really know their stuff! i learned a lot about chocolate. Got make some to take with me and, as always, you "exit through the gift shop" hah! seriously, I should have bought 3 times what i purchased.

he had some seedlings and grafts growing - i THINK he said it takes 3 years for a seedling to mature and produce fruit - maybe it was longer. The flowers are on the trunk near the ground and evidently it's a fly that pollinates them. Ther are 3 species but i think only 2 are used for chocolate.

check TripAdvisor for all the reviews of the place (mine's in there somewhere)



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