Ah, the fragrance of fresh herbs when added to foods. What a difference fresh herbs make to any recipe. As a garnish, herbs make foods more eye-appealing and appetizing. Herbs are not limited to the summer garden. They grow just as well indoors in the winter.

There are a few fussy herbs but for the most part, they are easy to grow, require little space, regular cutting encourages growth, and best of all they love the average kitchen’s humidity and warm temperature.

For first-time herb gardener start plants rather than seed. Seed gives more variety but a pre-grown plant will start your herb garden with healthy plants.

Grow in 4-6-inch pots placed in a south-facing window, or where they will receive 6-8 hours direct outdoor light. Mint, parsley and thyme will grow in the lower light of west windows. Place containers near windows where they will benefit from the most intense winter sunlight, but far enough from the window so that foliage does not touch it and can be burned.

Water only when the soil dries, except basil, lemon balm, and mint that need moist soil, well drained soil to avoid root rot. After watering let plants drain before returned to their saucers.

Most herbs are warm weather plants that prefer 65-70 degree daytime temperatures and night of 55-60.

Basil loves consistent 70 day and night temperatures and will wilt if exposed to cool air and drafts. Regularly water the herbs with a water-soluble vegetable fertilizer to promote growth.

Easy to grow herbs: Chives — harvest when 6”, leaving 2” at the base.

Parsley — Flat Italian is robust, while Curled parsley is less flavorful but more decorative.

Oregano — All Mediterranean dishes. The more Hot & Spicy is cut the spicier it is. A perennial, it can reside outside during summer.

Thyme — German or Lemon. It is strong enough that other herbs are not needed. Include in soups, salads, stews, and meat dishes.

THINGS TO DO

Garden — Recycle container plastic lids by cutting into strips for plant markers. They will last indefinitely, do not add chemicals to the environment and an indelible marker that will remain readable outdoors for several years. Insert in the ground as you plant to avoid pulling that unknown plant in the spring or planting on top of the already existing plant.

Replace spent plants in containers with magnolia, holly, and boxwood. Cut branches at an angle, criss-cross cut the ends and soak overnight. After spraying with a desiccant to retain moisture, insert directly into the planter’ soil.

Houseplants — During the winter, houseplants brighten otherwise dreary winter days.

They, also, produce and clean the air we breathe in our tightly sealed homes. Place plants that require medium or filtered light in east, south, or west facing windows with sheer coverings, or 3-5’ from south or west facing windows.

They include Airplants, Ficus Fiddle and Rubber leaf, Pepperomia and Polka Dot (“Hippo Rose” Proven-Winner).

Vegetables — Remove boards and containers on the ground that can provide protection for insects over the winter.

Pull spent plants. According to Bonnie Plants, “Any roots remaining roots will feed beneficial microbes who will then produce humus. Take a soil sample to your Extension Office for test for needed additives.

Work additives into the soil, add 1” of fresh manure and top with a layer of mulched leaves.

Fresh cow or horse manure can be spread in the fall but not spring.

EVENT

Dec. 1, Lunch Break Gardening Series — “African Violets,” Marshall County Extension Office, 12:15-12:45 p.m., 1922 Mayfield Road, Benton. For registration 270-527-3285 by Nov. 2. Cost $10 includes boxed lunch. The series will be held the first Wednesday of the month.

Dec. 2, Design Your Own Christmas Wreath, Lyon County Convention Center, 10 a.m. to noon. All supplies provided. Payment of $20 due at registration — 270-388-2341. Hwy 93 S, Eddyville.

Contact Carolyn Roof, The Sun’s gardening columnist, at carolynroof02@gmail.com.

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