Self-sufficient Spotlight: Growing Herbs

I haven’t done a Self Sufficient Saturday in FOREVER, so let’s get to it.

First, they lie. Growing your own herbs is not as easy as they claim.

But the benefits are enormous: medicines, teas, seasonings, and mood boosters. Not to mention they are compact and high yield producers. So they are worth the effort of figuring out what will work for what you like and what the herbs require.

Some like microclimates of heat (basil), some like sandy soil (chives), some like it rich and fertile (dill). Here’s what I grow well in the southwest tip of Nova Scotia and what I use them for :

Chives-toppings for potatoes, omelettes, salmon

Dill-fish, pickles, making stock

Oregano-PIzza of course ! Chicken feed booster

Lemon balm-oils, balms and salves, tea

Mint (4 varieties) -chicken coop freshener, tea, bath, infused into drinking water, cooking

Lemon verbena- teas, Greek roast chicken

Tarragon -stocks, soups

Parsley-garnish, salads

Sage-meat dishes

Thyme-tea (immune booster), cooking

Basil (2 kinds)-pesto, pizza, sauces

Rosemary -cooking meats, decorative

Summer savory-soups, stews

Spearmint-drinking water, teas, bath water

Peppermint -water, teas , oils , balms and salves

I make chive blossom vinegar for salad dressings

This is not a complete list by any means. We have loads of local experts who have taken herbs to the next level -check out Laura at Inner Oaks in Quinan, Yarmouth and Matthew and Cynthia at Coastal Grove Farm in Port La Tour, Barrington. Both can help with planning a fabulous herb garden so you can start eating fresh herbs more often, dehydrating the excess and saving seeds for future years so you never have to buy them again.

(I don’t like cilantro so I don’t grow it. But I’m told it does grow well here.)

My number one reason for growing herbs is when they grow they usually are prolific, there are plenty to dehydrate to store for winter use. (That is also my number one way to store herbs, by the way, dehydrating, then grinding to preserve shelf space.)

I start annual herbs (ones that need to be grown from seed every year) inside under lights, working backwards from our last frost date. Sometimes I buy transplants as well, as they just tempt me deliciously at the garden store. My favorites are perennial herbs though. They come back year after year, and usually need to be divided at some point, which means I get more bang for my buck. I also can give some away to friends or even better trade.

I love mint . I grow 4 different kinds.

I am by no means a seed saving expert but letting a few herbs go to seed at the end of every season and saving them to plant next year is something I get behind. Just secure a bunch of going -to -seed herbs with a string, hang upside down with a paper bag secured on the bottom to catch the seeds.

If I can’t do it this way, I don’t do it. Store in a nice cool place and for the love of all things holy, LABEL THEM. Trust me, you will not remember what they are.

Love Jenn xx

Gimme allllllll the basil !


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