Few things are as tasty and satisfying as cooking with homegrown herbs. There are dozens of culinary herbs from which to choose and with South Florida’s climate, nothing is off the table. While it’s possible to grow some of the more exotic herbs and spices, there are 10 basic herbs that no kitchen garden should be without and they grow extremely well in Florida.
- Lemon balm
You can buy plants from a nursery – it’s easier and you won’t have to wait for them to sprout, but herbs are fairly easy to start from seed. Spring and summer are the best times to begin a kitchen garden. If you want new plants for the following season, let the herbs flower and go to seed. Many self-sow easily.
The 10 basic herbs are an ideal place to start before graduating to more difficult herbs to grow. Begin by growing what you like and what you’ll use most often. If you buy seedlings, be sure you know what you’re getting. There are many different types of mint and thyme, for example. It’s important to make distinctions.
You’ll also want to know the growth habits of the herbs you plant. Mint and oregano can be aggressive in the garden and overpower their neighbors. Some herbs are best grown in pots to keep them contained, but it will mean they’ll need to be watered more often and have excellent drainage.
Harvesting your herbs can be tricky. You don’t want to pick them too often or not enough, but they will need to be pinched to encourage growth. Doing so will ensure the plants remain more compact and produce a greater yield.
Having success with one type of herb is a heady experience and you’ll be tempted to add several more. Don’t do it. Each herb has its own particular needs and it’s best to introduce one more at a time to the kitchen garden.
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