With the prices of our groceries increasing all the time I think we could save a lot of money by growing and drying our own herbs. Herbs are so easy to grow and take up very little space.
You can grow them anywhere, whether you choose to grow them in your garden or in a small pot. If space is all important then why not grow them in pots on a windowsill or even on the back table under the patio for that matter.
The Secret of growing Herbs
Here are a few of my secrets to be successful at growing herbs:
Â· Buy healthy sturdy plants â€“ Look for plants that are fresh and bright in color and strong stems. Avoid the scraggy type of plants or ones that are wilted or yellow.
Â· Plants need good soil- Herbs will fail to thrive in badly drained soil, they like sandy soil so build it up and enrich it with organic fertilizer.
Â· Herb plants need full sun â€“ herbs need full sun, keep indoors in cooler months.
Â· Harvest your herbs - harvest regularly, this encourages plant growth and producers more foliage.
Â· Feed herbs â€“ Feed with mulch to prevent the soil from drying out especially in the hotter months.
As you probably know, snails and slugs love to attach the young foliage of herbs seedlings. You can help protect them by putting a layer of sawdust around each plant. Pests appear to dislike the texture of sawdust.
If this is not available sprinkle a few snail pellets around your plants. Beware and be careful not to use these if you have cats or dogs. You can by the pet deterrent ones now available.
Names of a few of the most common herbs
Edible Herbs â€“ Basil, Chives, Dill, Fennel, Garlic, Oregano, Marjoram, Mint, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage and Thyme. Keep in mind there are also many different types and flavors of some of these.
Don't forget that a lot of these are also flowering herbs- these are not only pleasing on the eye but edible too. The Kale ornamental one looks great and adds color to your herb garden.
Drying the Herbs
Most people reckon that the best way to dry herbs is to cut off in branches and tie together then hang to dry. I have done this many times with my Lavender.
When it comes to edible herbs, I prefer to dry them differently. When hanging to dry I believe that it may encourage flies and other insects to land on them which means they could also leave their feces behind on the herbs. That does not sound very healthy to me.
Drying this way can be done with most types of herbs. In this article I will show you that I have dried out Oregano, and am now doing the same with my Parsley and Rosemary herbs.
Pick your herbs fresh and wash under running tap water. Leave to drain and thoroughly dry.
While holding each sprig in your hand, pick off the leaves and place leaves in a dish. Discard the stems. Do this with all the herbs. Yes by removing the stems it limits the time it takes for the leaves to dry out.
I place these dishes of herb leaves in the fridge uncovered. Turn them over every couple of days to dry out evenly.
It could take a couple of weeks. Depending on how much you put in the dish. I do it in approximately a cupful of each at a time.
When it is completely dry, scrunch it up in your hand until completely broken into tiny pieces. Remove any remainder of old stems and put into air tight containers.
Now use them in your favorite recipes.
This sounds like a long process but in actual fact only takes a few minutes every so often until completed.
Drying in a bag
You can also pick off herb branches and tie up in a bag and leave to dry hanging in your pantry.
Herbs have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. Camomile helps people relax aiding in sleep. Also some herbs are helpful in pain relief.