Value of growing herbs

Larry G. Field
Thursday, May 9, 2019
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I am undecided about the value of growing herbs. Most grow and produce well, perhaps too well. The generally accepted preservation technique is drying. A tiny crop will produce a lifetime of dried spice; which will lose flavor prior to consumption. The amount consumed while reasonably fresh costs minimally at the grocer and purchasing saves garden space and labor.

When I grow herbs, I plan on harvesting a two year supply but seldom use all harvested before becoming “outdated”. I dry all saved*; but freezing might prolong the quality-I have never tried this. My garden’s seeded rows are 30 feet long. When I grow herbs I divide one garden row into 10 three foot lengths. I plant 18

inches in the center of each 3 ft section and leave the remaining space for growth expansion. I alternate five small plant varieties (chives, mint, parsley, etc.) with five large varieties (dill, anise, fennel, etc.). Many spices will produce all season so I dedicate the space to herbs for the season. Most herbs can be used green during the growing season & dried for the rest of the year. I let the plants grow, produce seeds and dry while in the garden. In many cases the foliage and/or the seeds can be utilized. Doing as I do allows seeds to drop and spring will produce an unwanted thicket. I have not grown herbs for about 15 years, when I did grow them I generally saved and reused the produced seeds. I now see many hybrids in the seed catalogs, saving seeds today may not be wise.

*“Dry all saved”: Seed catalogs list several onion family members with the herbs/spices. I do not, I include chives, garlic, etc. with onions and preserve them appropriately.

Too many herbs are available to list. Consult a seed catalog. Here are some examples, 2018 “Jung Seeds & Plants” lists 31 varieties on the first page of a multiple page “herbs” section. 2019 “Burgess Seed & Plant Co.” lists one offer of “1 pkt each of 20 different herbs” for $15.99. (author: 80C/pkt). Follow instructions for recommending spacing and seeding depth.

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