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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Growing Rosemary

Part of our Culinary Herb Series


Rosemary is a hardy evergreen shrub that is a staple in any herb garden.  Perennial in Zones 7 – 10 (and borderline Zone 6), Rosemary is one of the most aromatic and pungent of all of the woody herbs.  The leaves have a lemony flavor that pairs well with lamb, garlic and olive oil.  The flowers can be blue, pink, purple or white.


Starting Rosemary from Seed

Rosemary can be difficult to grow from seed and often does not grow true to their parent plant.  Taking cuttings is recommended as opposed to seed sowing, but here's the information in case you prefer to try.

Seed Longevity:                               1 year.
Seed Sowing Depth:                        Just cover.  Needs some light to germinate.
Best Soil Temp for Germination:      70 degrees.  Heat mat will help.
Days to Germination:                       14-21+ days.


Spring Sowing

Sow indoors 10-12 weeks before last frost date to plant out after last frost date.
Don't transplant seedlings until they're well established.



Winter Sowing


If you haven't tried winter sowing, you're in for a treat.  This method is especially good for sowing herbs.  Winter sowing is basically sowing seeds in the bottom of milk jugs in the winter, setting the milk jugs outside for the winter and leaving them there until the seeds germinate in the Spring.

For our article containing detailed information about Winter Sowing, click here



Growing Rosemary

Plant Size:                              Height 1-8’  Width 2-4’.
Spacing:                                 Up to 3'.
Container Size:                       12” Deep  12” Wide.
Soil:                                         Sandy, well drained.
Light/Sun:                                 Full sun, 6 to 8 hours sunlight.
Fertilizer:                                   5-10-5 in Spring.

Other Care Tips

Watering:                                                     

Needs excellent drainage.  Relatively drought tolerant.  Let soil dry out between waterings.
                                  
Will grow back after extensive pruning.


Dividing Rosemary

Rosemary is a small woody shrub which should not be divided.  However since Rosemary has rooted layers, the layers (branches that have developed roots while touching the soil) can be cut off the parent plant, dug up and replanted as though they were a division.


Rosemary Cuttings

Take a 4” cutting from the tip of the stem.  Remove leaves 1” from the base.  Put cutting in a peat moss and vermiculite medium.  The cutting will root in 3-4 weeks.  Transfer to a 4” pot to let the root ball form, then transfer into larger pot or garden.

Harvesting Rosemary

Snip off sprigs of Rosemary all summer and into the fall and winter as needed.  It is possible to bring small plants inside.


Harvesting Rosemary Seed

The seed pods are very small.  Let them dry out on the plant, then remove them by pinching them off with your fingers.  Dry pods thoroughly in a paper bag for two weeks.  After they’re dry, rub pods to release the seeds.  Store in an airtight container.


Storing Rosemary

Fresh
Damp Paper Towel

This method works well for hardy herbs that have woody stems as well as a few soft-stemmed herbs.

Clean and thoroughly dry the Rosemary.  Arrange lengthwise in a single layer on a slightly damp paper towel.  Loosely roll up the herb and transfer to a plastic bag or plastic wrap.  Label and store in the fridge.   Rosemary will stay fresh in the fridge using with method for up to 3 weeks.




Freezing

For best results, use frozen Rosemary within 1-2 years.
By freezing herbs, you will lose some of the herb's texture, but preserve the flavor.
Here are some freezing methods to consider:

Tray Freeze

Spread the Rosemary onto a cookie sheet on a single layer. Freeze in freezer, then transfer the Rosemary into a labeled freezer bag to store.  Since the leaves are frozen separately, you can easily remove the amount you need.

Ice Cube Trays with Oil

This method works well for hard-stemmed herbs that would probably be cooked when adding to a dish.  The oil reduces some of the browning and freezer burn.
Clean and thoroughly dry the Rosemary.  Mince and firmly pack herbs into an ice cube tray 3/4 full.  Add Olive Oil to fill and freeze.  Transfer frozen cubes into labeled freezer bags to store.

Flat Freezer Bag

Trim off the stems and place in a labeled freezer bag.  Squeeze out the air, flatten the freezer bag, label and store.



Drying Rosemary

Rosemary is one of the best herbs to dry.  For best results, use dried Rosemary within 1-2 years.


Hang to Dry

Pick your Rosemary in bunches right before you intend to store them.  Tie the bottom of the bunch together with twine and hang upside down to dry in a dry, low humidity area. For added protection against dust, you can put the bundles inside paper bags with plenty of holes for ventilation.  When the herbs are dry, the leaves will crumble easily between your fingers.  Store in an air tight container.


Using Rosemary


  • Great when used with pork, chicken and potatoes.
  • Rosemary’s spiky leaves can be used fresh or dried for long cooking in soups, meats, stews and sauces.  
  • Because the flavor is so strong, it’s best to add Rosemary sparingly at first adding more if needed.

Growing your own herbs is fun, easy, more healthy than the herbs shipped to grocery stores, and what's best, saves you tons of money! Try it today.


To view other herb articles in our culinary herb series, click on the herb name below.

Basil

Chives


Cilantro


Dill


Oregano

Mint


Parsley


Sage


Thyme




Love hostas or know someone who does?
Visit our website for great hostas at an affordable price!



Growing Oregano

Part of the Culinary Herb Series


A hardy perennial in Zones 5 – 10 gardens, Oregano is a pungently aromatic plant that is one of the most important herbs in Italian, Greek and Mexican cooking.  It has a bold flavor and a hardy constitution.  It is also called Wild Marjoram.

The flavor of Oregano can vary greatly from variety to variety.  Greek Oregano is the spiciest. 


Starting Oregano From Seed

Seed Longevity:                                           One Year.
Seed Sowing Depth:                                    Just cover.  Needs light to germinate.
Best Soil Temp for Germination:                  60 degrees.
Days to Germination:                                   7 - 14.
Spring Sowing:                                            Sow indoors 8-10 weeks before last frost.                                                            Direct sow 2 weeks before last frost.
Fall:                                                              Not recommended.




Winter Sowing

If you haven't tried winter sowing, you're in for a treat.  This method is especially good for sowing herbs.  Winter sowing is basically sowing seeds in the bottom of milk jugs in the winter, setting the milk jugs outside for the winter and leaving them there until the seeds germinate in the Spring.

For our article containing detailed information about Winter Sowing, click here.



            Other Sowing Tips                               

At 6”tall, thin seedlings to 12” apart.


Growing Oregano

Plant Size:                                                   Height 8-12” Spread 24”.
Spacing:                                                      18”.
Container Size:                                            12 diameter and  8+”deep.
Soil:                                                              Well-drained.
Watering:                                                      Thoroughly, less often. 
Light/Sun:                                                     Thrives in warm, sunny spots.
Fertilizer:                                                       None for the best flavored foliage.
Good Companions:                                       Everything.  
Bad Companions:                                          Nothing.

                    

                                Other Care Tips                                       

  • Flowers should be pinched off to keep the plants bushier and prevent them from early bolting.
  • Allow plants to grow to 4” tall then trim lightly to encourage branching.
  • Regular trimming will avoid plant legginess.                               


Dividing Oregano

Divide Oregano plants when the stems begin to die out or the stems become woody, or to simply make more plants. 




Soft Cuttings

Take cuttings in spring when new growth is several inches in length.  Side shoots of 4" in length are perfect. Cut the stem at an angle and remove lower leaves leaving an inch or two of the stem bare.  Plant cutting bare side down into a well-drained soil mix.  No fertilizer is needed at this stage.

Wrap the container in plastic to keep in humidity.  Avoid having the leaves touch the plastic.  Place the pot in light but out of direct light.  Keep soil moist but never soggy.  Remove plastic when cutting grows roots.  A light tug that gives you some resistances means it has rooted.



Overwinter Plant Care

Oregano plants should be cut back to ground level and covered with a layer of mulch.  Containers can be brought inside for the winter.


Harvesting Oregano

As soon as the leaves are large enough to use and before the plant flowers.
Snip the leaves individually or shear plants to 2” above ground level just before flowering and again a month before first frost.  You'll get two harvests that way.


Harvesting Oregano Seed

Oregano seeds are tiny and develop after the flowers fade in late summer or fall.  Collect and thoroughly dry seeds before storing in airtight container.


Storing Oregano


Fresh
Damp Paper Towel

This method works well for hardy herbs that have woody stems as well as a few soft-stemmed herbs.

Clean and thoroughly dry the Oregano.  Arrange lengthwise in a single layer on a slightly damp paper towel.  Loosely roll up the herb and transfer to a plastic bag or plastic wrap.  Label and store in the fridge. 

Oregano will stay fresh in the fridge using with method for up to 2 weeks.




Freezing

For best results, use frozen Oregano within 1-2 years.
By freezing herbs, you will lose some of the herb's texture, but preserve the flavor.
Here are some freezing methods:

Tray Freeze

Spread herb onto a cookie sheet on a single layer. Freeze in freezer, then transfer the Oregano into a labeled freezer bag to store.  Since the leaves are frozen separately, later you can easily remove the amount you need.

Ice Cube Trays with Oil

This method works well for hard-stemmed herbs that would probably be cooked when adding to a dish.  The oil reduces some of the browning and freezer burn.
Clean and thoroughly dry the Oregano.  Mince and firmly pack herbs into an ice cube tray 3/4 full.  Add Olive Oil to fill and freeze.  Transfer frozen cubes into labeled freezer bags to store.


Flat Freezer Bag

Trim off the stems and place in a labeled freezer bag.  Squeeze out the air, flatten the freezer bag, label and store.


Drying Oregano

Oregano is one of the best herbs to use in a dried form.  For best results, use dried Oregano within 1-2 years.


Hang to Dry

Pick your Oregano in bunches right before you intend to store them.  Tie the bottom of the bunch together with twine and hang upside down to dry in a dry, low humidity area. For added protection against dust, you can put the bundles inside paper bags with plenty of holes for ventilation.  When the herbs are dry, the leaves will crumble easily between your fingers.  Store in an air tight container.


Using Oregano


  • Oregano adds zest to pasta and pizza sauces.
  • It complements meats and vegetables.
  • Garlic, onion, thyme, basil, parsley and olive oil are complementary partners.
  • Makes a great ground cover.

Growing your own herbs is fun, easy, more healthy than the herbs shipped to grocery stores, and what's best, saves you tons of money! Try it today.



To view other herb articles in our culinary herb series, click on the herb name below.




Love hostas or know someone who does?
Visit our website for great hostas at an affordable price!

SunsetHostaFarm.com

                

Growing Mint

Part of our Culinary Herb Series


Mint is a hardy perennial commonly associated with sweets.  Mint lends a cool, peppery bite to plenty of dishes.  It’s very fragrant, fast growing but it can be invasive.

Starting from Mint Seed

Mint is very difficult to grow from seed and most plants grown from seed will be different than the parent plant.  This is because they are hybrid varieties that don't come true to form when grown from seed.  Growing Mint from seed is not recommended, but here are the details.


Growing Mint

Plant size:                                 Height 12”–18” height  Spreading.
Spacing:                                    8-24”.
Container Size:                         2 seedlings in a 12” container.
Soil:                                           Avoid very heavy soil.
Watering:                                  Loves moist soil.
Light/Sun:                                 morning sun and part afternoon shade.
Fertilizer:                                  Fertile soil.  Diluted fertilizer every 2-3 weeks.
Good Companions:                  Peas, tomatoes.
Bad Companions:                    Keep away from other spices.  Taste can transfer.



        Other Care Tips              

  •  Plant can be rather invasive as it spreads through runners underground.
  • In fall, cut back plant to the ground
  • Trim off the top of the plant for compact growth
  • Mulch plant before first frost.
  • Bring a plant indoors in later summer for winter.

Dividing Mint

Mint propagates well through rootball division.  Use a sharp shovel to cut into desired pieces and replant at same depth.  Dividing Mint plant every two or three years will help keep the fresh scent and the flavor of the mint nice and strong.



Softwood Cuttings

Cut off a 4” sprig and place in 1” of water.  Remove leaves that fall below the water line.  Small roots should appear under the water.  Change water every three to four days to prevent rot.  Wait another week then plant in soil.


Harvesting Mint

Right before flowering, cut the stems 1 inch from the ground. You can harvest one mint plant two or three times in one growing season. You can also just pick the leaves as you need them. You can grow the plants indoors for fresh leaves throughout the winter.



Storing Mint


Fresh
Bouquet Storage

This method works well for tender herbs with soft stems and leaves.
Clean and thoroughly dry the herb.  Trim the end of the stems and remove any wilted or browned leaves.  Place the Mint in a Mason jar or clear glass with 1" of water like a bouquet of flowers. Loosely cover with a plastic bag or cling wrap.  Label and store in the fridge.

Mint will stay fresh in the fridge with this method for up to 2 weeks.


Freezing

For best results, use frozen Mint within 1-2 years.  By freezing herbs, you will lose some of the herb's texture, but preserve the flavor.  Here are a few freezing options to consider:

Tray Freeze

Spread herb onto a cookie sheet on a single layer. Freeze in freezer, then transfer the mint into a labeled freezer bag to store.  Since the leaves are frozen separately, you can easily remove the amount you need.

Ice Cube Trays

Clean and thoroughly dry the mint.  Mince and pack firmly into ice cube trays 3/4 full.  Add water to fill and freeze.  Transfer frozen cubes into labeled freezer bag to store.

Flat Freezer Bag

Clean and thoroughly dry the mint.  Chop herb into 1/2" pieces, place in labeled freezer bag. Squeeze out the air, lay flat and freeze.


Drying Mint

For best results, use dried Mint within 1-2 years.


Hang to Dry

Pick your herbs in bunches right before you intend to store them.  Tie the bottom of the bunch together with twine and hang upside down to dry in a dry, low humidity area. For added protection against dust, you can put the bundles inside paper bags with plenty of holes for ventilation.  When the herbs are dry, the leaves will crumble easily between your fingers.  Store in an air tight container.


Using Mint


  • Perfect for summer salads and to liven up a sauce and to brew fragrant teas. 
  • The flavor is also used to temper spicy curries. 
  • Mint complements fish, chicken, lamb, and spices up vegetables like carrots and peas. 
  • Spices up salads, too.


Growing your own herbs is fun, easy, more healthy than the herbs shipped to grocery stores, and what's best, saves you tons of money! Try it today.

To view other herb articles in our culinary herb series, click on the herb name below.



Love hostas or know someone who does?
Visit our website for great hostas at an affordable price.


Growing Parsley

Part of our Culinary Herb Series

Parsley is a tender herb with soft stems and leaves.  It is popular for many reasons including its variety of uses, vitamin content and its ability to grow and give you a flavorful harvest even after a light snowfall.  Parsley has a light, peppery flavor that complements other seasonings.

  

Types of Parsley

Curly leaved Parsley.   Deep curled leaves and attractive appearance.  Only used as a garnish.

Flat leafed Parsley (AKA Italian Parsley) Preferred by cooks for its flat, celery-like leaves.  Pleasant tasting foliage can be eaten fresh or added to recipes.  Single Leaf Italian Parsley has a rich flavor that is best for seasoning cooked dishes.



Starting Parsley from Seed

Parsley is slow to germinate, but after you do get it to the plant stage, it's not fussy at all.  To speed up this process, soak or refrigerate the seeds for a day before sowing them.

Seed Longevity:                                       2-3 years.
Seed Sowing Depth:                                1/4”.
Best Soil Temp for Germination:              65 – 85 degrees.
Days to Germination:                               21+ days.

               Spring Sowing                                             

Direct sow 4-6 weeks before the last frost date or as soon as the soil can be worked, or  sow indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date. 



Winter Sowing

If you haven't tried winter sowing, you're in for a treat.  This method is especially good for sowing herbs.  Winter sowing is basically sowing seeds in the bottom of clear milk jugs in the winter, setting the milk jugs outside for the winter and leaving them there until the seeds germinate in the Spring.

For our article containing detailed information about Winter Sowing, click here


             Other Sowing Tips                                   

You can also start seeds in a pot in late summer and grow the plant outside until the first frost, then bring the plant indoors.



Growing Parsley

Plant Size:                                                12-18” Height.
Growing Soil Temperature:                       60 – 65 degrees.
Spacing                                                     9-12”.
Container Size:                                          6-18” in diameter   12” deep.                          
For fresh parsley all winter long, transplant one or two plants in a 10” container in late Fall and grow in a sunny window.

Soil:                                                            Fertile, slightly acidic to slightly alkaline.
Watering:                                                    Light.  Parsley has shallow roots.
Light/Sun:                                                   Full sun to light shade.
Fertilizer:                                                     None.
Good Companions:                                     Asparagus, corn, pepper, tomato.

Other Care Tips:
Keep roots cool and moist by mulching.
In September, cut back plants set out in spring to promote new foliage.


Dividing Parsley


Dig up the Parsley plant.  Locate the older growth which will have a slightly darker hue.  This growth is vital to the plant.  Divide into thirds and replant at the same depth.  Do not harvest sections again for at least 3 weeks.




Cuttings of Parsley


Take cuttings in spring when new growth is several inches in length.  Side shoots of 4" in length are perfect. Cut the stem at an angle and remove lower leaves leaving an inch or two of the stem bare.  Plant cutting bare side down into a  well-drained soil mix.  No fertilizer is needed at this stage.

Wrap the container in plastic to keep in humidity.  Avoid having the leaves touch the plastic.  Place the pot in light but out of direct light.  Keep soil moist but never soggy.  Remove plastic when cutting grows roots.  A light tug that yields some resistance will let you know that roots have formed.


Harvesting Parsley

Harvest Parsley as needed, starting with the larger outer leaves.  You can also harvest the long stems with the leaf blades.  You can cut above the soil level for a bunch and it will grow new foliage.


Harvesting Parsley Seed

Parsley does not go to seed the first year.  Harvest the Parsley seeds of second year plants when they have turned dark brown.  If the seeds are harvested earlier, they may not be viable.  Shake seeds off the seed heads and into a paper bag to dry.  You can also pluck out seeds as they turn brown as they tend to ripen at separate times.


Storing Parsley

Fresh
Bouquet Storage

This method works well for tender herbs  with soft stems and leaves.
  • Clean and  thoroughly dry the herb.  
  • rim the end of the stems and remove any wilted or browned leaves.  
  • Fill a Mason jar or clear glass with 1" of water.  
  • Place the herbs in the jar like a bouquet of flowers
  • Loosely cover with a plastic bag or cling wrap.  Label and store in the fridge.

Parsley will stay fresh in the fridge with this method for 3 weeks.



Freezing Parsley

For best results, use frozen Parsley within 1-2 years. 
By freezing herbs, you will lose some of the herb's texture, but preserve the flavor. 

Here are a few freezing options to consider:

Tray Freeze

Spread herb onto a cookie sheet on a single layer. Freeze in freezer, then transfer the herbs into a labeled freezer bag to store.  Since the leaves are frozen separately, you can easily remove the amount you need.


Ice Cube Trays

Clean and thoroughly dry herbs.  Mince and pack herbs into ice cube trays 3/4 full.  Add water to fill and freeze.  Transfer frozen cubes into labeled freezer bag to store.


Flat Freezer Bag

Clean and thoroughly dry herbs.  Chop herb into 1/2" pieces, place in labeled freezer bag. Squeeze out the air, lay flat and freeze.




Drying Parsley

Hang to Dry

Pick your herbs in bunches right before you intend to store them.  Tie the bottom of the bunch together with twine and hang upside down to dry in a dry, low humidity area. For added protection against dust, you can put the bundles inside paper bags with plenty of holes for ventilation.  When the herbs are dry, the leaves will crumble easily between your fingers.  Store in an air tight container.
For best results, use dried Parsley within 1-2 years.


Using Parsley

Parsley perks up salads, soups, meatballs and poultry stuffing.
It is most often used in sauces, salads, and sprinkled over dishes at the end of cooking for a flash of green and fresh taste.



Growing your own herbs is fun, easy, more healthy than the herbs shipped to grocery stores, and what's best, saves you tons of money! Try it today.


To view other herb articles in our culinary herb series, click on the herb name below.





Love hostas or know someone who does?
Visit our website for great hostas at an affordable price.



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