8 herbs to get your culinary garden growing

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Cooking for your family and friends is a labour of love---a love that shows up in the flavour of the meal.

Imagine the taste of the meal when it features fresh herbs, cultivated in your own herb garden.

It is not only possible but probable that no matter where you live you may enjoy your own home-grown herbs fairly easily.

Ariel Agenbroad, extension horticulturist at University of Idaho Extension in Canyon County, says herbs are so easy to grow that anyone can be successful at it. Even though most types grow best outside, she noted, you may grow them on a windowsill or kitchen counter. A garden window---a box-shaped window that may be used as a miniature greenhouse---would provide an especially good indoor environment.

Agenbroad calls herbs "multi-taskers" because of their ability to adapt and the ease and affordability of having an herb garden. She adds that herbs vary greatly in their characteristics. They are variously edible or medicinal. Some produce a fragrance while others do not. Some have beautiful flowers and foliage, and birds and butterflies find habitat and nectar among them.

"Herbs are not picky and make friends easily with other types of plants," Agenbroad said. "They can be tucked into vegetable gardens, flower borders or around shrubs and trees. Some perennial herbs, like mint, can become invasive in the garden. Plant these herbs where they can spread comfortably, or try planting them in large pots to contain them."

Sharing with friends is one of the joys of gardens, and herb gardens are no exception. With an herb garden it is fairly easy to propagate the entire plant to share. "Try rooting basil cuttings in water, digging up and breaking apart a mature chive or oregano plant and replanting the sections, or rooting a tip cutting from a lavender or rosemary branch in moist potting soil," Agenbroad said.

A list of eight herb garden "must haves"---based on recommendations of Agenbroad and nationally recognised gardening expert Charlie Nardozzi---consists of basil, chives, lavender, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary and cilantro.

These plants were chosen because "they would provide a gardener with beautiful, fragrant plants that work well in landscapes or containers" and they offer the "broadest range or usefulness, from cooking and preserving to teas and cocktails," Agenbroad said.


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