rosemary in the gardenThere’s nothing quite like picking fresh herbs from the garden to spice up an evening meal. Herb gardens are often just what’s needed to transform bland meals into culinary masterpieces. It’s easy for gardeners to customize herb gardens, whether they love fresh-from-the-garden cocktails or zesty Mexican fare. Many garden herbs are cooking staples. Add big flavor to any dish by planting an Italian herb garden.

The All-Stars of the Italian Herb Garden

  • Basil: Basil isn’t just the backbone of most Italian cuisine, it’s also a superfood known for easing headaches, indigestion, and the common cold. Plant in a sunny location with good drainage and harvest stems often to encourage growth. Add basil to pastas and pestos, marinades and stews, and even fun appetizers like a tomato-mozzarella salad.
  • Oregano: This sweet, aromatic herb can make or break homemade pizza sauce. When cooking with dried oregano, rub it between your palms to release the flavor. Use fresh oregano as a garnish as needed.
  • Garlic: As you might expect from a plant known for warding off vampires, garlic does best when harvested in full sunlight and left out to dry. Plant in the spring, water infrequently, and garlic cloves will thrive on their own.
  • Fennel: Fennel is a plant not commonly used in American cuisine, but it adds a light, crisp flavor to Italian recipes. For a lasting herb garden, divide and replant this perennial herb every few years.
  • Rosemary: A big, hardy shrub with a pleasing aroma, rosemary thrives in container gardens and outdoor gardens alike. Rosemary grows best in well-drained soil with 6-8 hours of sunlight each day. Add a touch of rosemary to your favorite lamb, pork, and chicken recipes for an extra dose of robust flavor.

Looking for fresh seed, starter supplies for your herb garden, or a miniature herb container garden for a Mother’s Day gift? Come visit us at Autumn Hill Nursery in Hickory Flat.

photo from flickr

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