Thursday, June 30, 2011

Homemade Fly Spray

old spray bottle
cider vinegar
10 drops tea tree oil
15 drops lavender essential oil
20 drops vegetable glycerin

Fill the bottle 2/3rds full with vinegar, fill the rest of the way with water. Add the essential oils and glycerin. The glycerin helps the oil mix with the vinegar and water.

Shake well before using.

Be careful not to get this in their eyes or other sensitive spots.

This recipe works well on Humans, Dogs and Horses. horses.

Homemade Oven Cleaner

3/4 cup salt
1/2 cup Borax
32 oz. Baking Soda

Mix all dry ingredients together and store in a glass jar. When ready to use pour out a small amount into a bowl and add small amount of water to make a paste. Spread it on the oven and let sit one half hour. Wipe off with a clean cloth and vinegar.

Homemade Anti-bacterial/Anti-fungal multipurpose Cleaner

4 Tbl. Lemon juice
1 Tbl. Tea Tree oil
equal parts white vinegar and distilled water.
Mixed together in a spray bottle. Shake before using.

Homemade Window Wash

Also good for the stove and counter tops

1/2 part white vinegar
1/2 part Water
a splash or two of rubbing alcohol
Mixed together in a spray bottle. Shake before using.

Homemade Carpet Fresh

1 old jar
Baking soda (1lb.)
20 drops essential oil

mix together in glass jar. Sprinkle on carpet and let sit overnight, vacuum the next day.

Homemade Liquid Dish Soap

1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup liquid castile soap
2 tsp. vegetable glycerin
20 drops orange or lemon essential oil

Mix together and store in an old soap bottle.

Homemade Foaming Hand Wash

1 C. warm distilled water
4 Tbl. liquid castile soap
1 tsp. pure vegetable glycerin
1 tsp. almond oil
16 drops grapefruit essential oil
20 drops lavender essential oil
10 drops eucalyptus essential oil

Put all ingredients in a large jar with a lid. Shake to mix. Pour into a soap foamer. This will add some moisturizing to the soap and it smells nice too. You can try other essential oils and come up with your own combinations.

Homemade Disinfectant Spray Cleaner

2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. borax
4 Tbsp. vinegar
4 cups hot water

Simply add the baking soda, borax, and vinegar in a spray bottle. You can either reuse an old spray bottle when through with it (making sure to clean thoroughly) or buy a cheap one at the dollar store for a buck. Slowly add 4 cups of hot water to dissolve all the ingredients. Put the spray nozzle on, and shake to mix ingredients.
I have used this recipe in the bathroom, outdoors, on glass, and in the kitchen, everywhere I would use our old spray cleaners, and have had fantastic results.

Homemade Liquid Dish Soap

2 bars solid or 2 cups liquid castile soap
Large non-metallic bowl
Sharp knife
1/2 cup lemon juice or white vinegar
Essential oils
Empty bottles

Finely chop the bars of castile soap. Place the soap in a large bowl and cover with 2 cups of hot water.

Allow the soap and water to sit for several hours or overnight. When the soap is soft, stir the mixture until it is smooth.

Add 2 cups of warm water to the soap mixture or to your liquid castile soap. Stir completely but gently; do not create suds. Add more water as necessary until the mixture reaches the consistency of conventional dish detergent.

Stir in 1/4 cup of lemon juice or white vinegar. These acidic ingredients cut grease, adding power to your dish cleanser.

For a pleasant scent, add your favorite essential oil to your dish soap, a few drops at a time. Essential oils are strong, and a little bit goes a long way. Some oils, such as tea tree oil, also possess antibacterial properties. Other popular essential oils include lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus and pine.

Pour your homemade dish soap into bottles. Recycle old dish detergent bottles or choose something decorative. Look around the house for possibilities. You can even use an empty wine bottle with an appropriate stopper.

Homemade All-Purpose Bug Spray For Plants

3 tablespoons baking soda
2 tablespoons murphy oil soap
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 gallons water

Mix together and spray on plant until it's dripping wet.

Homemade All-Purpose Cleaning Spray

1 cup water
1 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons baking soda
5 drops orange essential oils
5 drops lavender oil

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl or pitcher. Funnel into a spray bottle. Use as you would store-bought cleaning sprays, but be sure to follow up with a damp rag when using on dark surfaces, as it can leave a white residue.

Homemade Wood Polish

1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil or 1/4 cup other vegetable oil

Mix ingredients.
Apply to a rag.
Wipe furniture.

Homemade Fabric Spray

1 1/2-4 tablespoons ©Ultra Downy Clean Breeze fabric softener
25 ounces water
32 ounces spray bottle

Put Downy and water in bottle and spray on furniture, carpeting, pillows, shower curtains -- etc -- To do a fabric test, spray small amount in an area where it cannot be seen.
I never sprayed this on anything white, but I spray it all over my house, once a week.

Homemade Powder Dishwasher Detergent

1 (76 ounce)box ©Borax
2 (16 ounce) boxes ©Arm and Hammer Baking Soda

Blend the two ingredients together in bucket. 1/4 cup for a dishwashing load.

Homemade Powder Laundry Soap

1/2 bar ©Fels Naptha Soap
1 cup ©Borax
1 cup ©Arm and Hammer Washing Soda

Grated into flakes the ©Fels Naptha Soap. Mix in the remaining powders.Keep mixture in a closed container.Use one tablespoon per load.

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap

1 bar Fels Naptha Soap

1 cup ©Arm and Hammer Washing Soda

½ cup ©Borax Powder

~You will also need a 5 gallon bucket~

Grate the soap and put it in a sauce pan. Add 4 cups water and heat it until the soap melts. Remove from heat, add the washing soda and the borax and stir until it is dissolved. Fill your bucket with hot water almost to the rim, leaving room for the mixer and stirring. Now add your soap mixture and stir. I stir mixture with an old broom handle. Let the soap sit for about 24 hours covered and it will be a watery gel. Once your 24 hours has passed, fill jugs with 1/2 hot water and 1/2 mixture. This will make about 10 gallon of laundry soap. You use ½ cup per load.


**The finished soap will not be a solid gel. It will be more of a watery gel. The soap is a low sudsing soap. So if you don’t see suds, that is ok. Suds are not what does the cleaning, it is the ingredients in the soap.If you want your soap to have some sort of scent you can scent this with ½ to 1 oz. of essential oil or fragrance oil of your choice.**

Saturday, June 25, 2011

12 Foods With Healing Powers


This tiny, nutrient-dense fruit packs an amazing amount of vitamin C, has more fiber than apples and beats bananas as a high-potassium food. The unique blend of phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals found in kiwifruit helps protect against heart disease, stroke, cancer and respiratory disease. Kiwifruit's natural blood-thinning properties work without the side effects of aspirin and support vascular health by reducing the formation of spontaneous blood clots, lowering LDL cholesterol and reducing blood pressure. Multiple studies have shown that kiwifruit not only reduces oxidative stress and damage to DNA but also prompts damaged cells to repair themselves.
In Chinese medicine they are used to accelerate the healing of wounds and sores.
How much: Aim to eat one to two kiwifruit a day while they're in season, for the best taste and nutrition.

Cherries boast a laundry list of healing powers. For starters, they pack a powerful nutritional punch for a relatively low calorie count. They're also packed with substances that help fight inflammation and cancer. In lab studies, quercetin and ellagic acid, two compounds contained in cherries, have been shown to inhibit the growth of tumors and even cause cancer cells to commit suicide. Cherries also have antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Anthocyanin another compound in cherries, is credited with lowering the uric acid levels in the blood, thereby reducing a common cause of gout. Researchers believe anthocyanins may also reduce your risk of colon cancer. Further, these compounds work like a natural form of ibuprofen, reducing inflammation and curbing pain. Regular consumption may help lower risk of heart attack and stroke.
In Chinese medicine, cherries are routinely used as a remedy for gout, arthritis and rheumatism (as well as anemia, due to their high iron content). Plus they're delicious.
How much: Aim for a daily serving while they're in season locally. And keep a bag of frozen cherries in your freezer the rest of the year; frozen cherries retain 100 percent of their nutritional value and make a great addition to smoothies, yogurt and oatmeal.

Guavas are a small tropical fruit that can be round, oval or pear-shaped. They're not all that common, but if you can track them down, it's more than worth it. Guavas contain more of the cancer-fighting antioxidant lycopene than any other fruit or vegetable, and nearly 20 percent more than this popular fruit.
Lycopene protects our healthy cells from free radicals that can cause blocked arteries, joint degeneration, nervous system problems and even cancer. Lycopene consumption is associated with significantly lower rates of prostate cancer; and men with prostate tumors who consumed lycopene supplements showed significant improvements. Lycopene has also been found to inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells, and research suggests that this antioxidant may also help protect against coronary artery disease.
Guavas are also packed with vitamin C and other antioxidants. Serving for serving, guava offers more than 60 percent more potassium than a banana.
How much: Aim to eat fresh guavas as often as you can when you can find them in stores. They're not commonly available in the freezer section, and most guava juices are processed and sweetened, so they don't provide the same superior nutrition that the whole, fresh fruit does. One to two guavas a day is a good goal.
Tip: Opt for the red-fleshed variety if you can; both are loaded with antioxidants but the red type has more than the white-fleshed apple guava.

Beans are a miracle food. They lower cholesterol, regulate blood sugar and insulin production, promote digestive health and protect against cancer. If you think of fiber, protein and antioxidants, and immediately think whole grains, meat and fruit, then think again—beans offer all three in a single package.
An assortment of phytochemicals found in beans has been shown to protect cells from cancerous activity by inhibiting cancer cells from reproducing, slowing tumor growth. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health reported that women who consumed beans at least twice a week were 24 percent less likely to develop breast cancer, and multiple studies have tied beans to a reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and breast and colon cancers.
Beans deliver a whopping amount of antioxidants, which help prevent and fight oxidative damage. In fact, the USDA's ranking of foods by antioxidant capacity places three varieties of beans (red, red kidney and pinto) in the top four—and that's among all food groups. They also contain tryptophan, which can help regulate appetite, aid in sleep and improve mood. Many are also rich in folate, which plays a significant role in heart health. You'll also get decent amounts of potassium, magnesium, vitamin B1 and B2, and vitamin K. Soybeans are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.
In Chinese medicine, various types of beans have been used to treat alcoholism, food poisoning, edema (particularly in the legs), high blood pressure, diarrhea, laryngitis, kidney stones, rheumatism and dozens of other conditions.
How much: Aim for a minimum of two servings of beans per week.
Tip: Adzuki and mung beans are among the most easily digested; pinto, kidney, navy, garbanzo, lima and black beans are more difficult to digest.

Not only is watercress extremely nutritious, it's about as close as you can get to a calorie-free food. Calorie for calorie, it provides four times the calcium of this staple drink. Ounce for ounce, it offers as much vitamin C as an orange and more iron than another superfood. It's packed with vitamin A and has lots of vitamin K, along with multiple antioxidant carotenoids and protective phytochemicals.
The nutrients in watercress protect against cancer and macular degeneration, help build the immune system and support bone health. The iron helps red blood cells carry oxygen to your body's tissues for energy. The phytochemicals in watercress battle cancer in three ways: killing cancer cells, blocking carcinogens and protecting healthy cells from carcinogens.
In Chinese medicine, watercress is thought to help reduce tumors, improve night vision and improve digestion. It's used as a remedy for jaundice, urinary difficulty, sore throat, mumps and bad breath.
How much: Eat watercress daily if you can. In some regions, it's more widely available during the spring and summer, when it's cultivated outdoors. But since it can also be grown hydroponically, you can find it year-round in many grocery stores and at your local farmers market.
Tips: You can cook it, but watercress is better for you when you eat it raw. Tuck it into a sandwich in place of lettuce.

You already knew spinach was good for you, but did you know just how good? Spinach protects against eye disease and vision loss; it's good for brain function; it guards against colon, prostate and breast cancers; it protects against heart disease, stroke and dementia; it lowers blood pressure; it's anti-inflammatory; and it's great for bone health. Spinach has an amazing array of nutrients, including high amounts of vitamin K, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, magnesium and iron.
A carotenoid found in spinach kills prostate cancer cells and prevents them from multiplying. Folate promotes vascular health by lowering homocysteine and has also been shown to reduce the risk of developing colorectal, ovarian and breast cancers. The vitamin C and beta-carotene in spinach protect against colon cancer in addition to fighting inflammation, making them key components of brain health, particularly in older adults.
Spinach is loaded with vitamin K (one cup of cooked spinach provides 1111 percent of the recommended daily amount), which builds strong bones by helping calcium adhere to the bone.
How much: Fresh spinach should be a daily staple in your diet. It's available in practically every grocery store, no matter where you live. Aim for a few ounces, raw or lightly steamed, every day.
Tips: Add a handful of fresh spinach to your next fruit smoothie. It'll change the color but not the taste. Conventionally grown spinach is susceptible to pesticide residue; stick to organic.

Onions get a bad rap for their effect on the breath, but that's not the only part of the body where they pack a wallop. Onion consumption has been shown to help lower the risk of prostate and esophageal cancers and has also been linked to reduced mortality from coronary heart disease. Research suggests that they may help protect against stomach cancer. Onions contain sulfides that help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as a peptide that may help prevent bone loss.
Onions have super antioxidant power. They contain quercetin, a natural antihistamine that reduces airway inflammation and helps relieve symptoms of allergies and hay fever. Onions also boast high levels of vitamin C, which battles cold and flu symptoms. Onions' anti-inflammatory properties help fight the pain and swelling associated with osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis.
How much: For all the health benefits onions provide, it would be ideal to eat one a day. However, if that's not doable for you, add a few onions to your weekly grocery list and try to eat a little bit every day. All varieties are extremely good for you, but shallots and yellow onions lead the pack in antioxidant activity. Raw onions provide the best nutrition, but they're still great for you when they're lightly cooked.
Tip: Onions should be stored at room temperature, but if they bother your eyes when you cut them, try refrigerating them for an hour beforehand

Carrots are a great source of the potent antioxidants known as carotenoids. Diets high in carotenoids have been tied to a decreased risk in postmenopausal breast cancer as well as cancers of the bladder, cervix, prostate, colon, larynx and esophagus. Conversely, diets low in carotenoids have been associated with chronic disease, including heart disease and various cancers. Research suggests that just one carrot per day could reduce your risk of lung cancer by half. Carrots may also reduce your risk of kidney and ovarian cancers. Nutrients in carrots inhibit cardiovascular disease, stimulate the immune system, promote colon health, and support ear and eye health.
Carrots contain calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, fiber, vitamin C and an incredible amount of vitamin A. The alpha-carotene in carrots has shown promise in inhibiting tumor growth. In Chinese medicine, carrots are used to treat rheumatism, kidney stones, tumors, indigestion, night blindness, ear infections and more.
How much: Eat a serving of carrots each day and enjoy them year-round. Carrots are good for you whether they're raw or lightly cooked. For the best nutrition, go for whole carrots that are firm and fresh-looking. Precut baby carrots are made from whole carrots and tend to lose important nutrients during processing.
Tips: Remove carrot tops before storing them in the fridge, as the tops drain moisture from the roots and will cause the carrots to wilt. Buy organic; conventionally grown carrots frequently show high pesticide residues.

Cabbage is a powerhouse source of vitamins K and C. Just one cup supplies 91 percent of the recommended daily amount for vitamin K, 50 percent of vitamin C, good amounts of fiber and decent scores of manganese, vitamin B6 and folate. How many calories per serving? It offers 11 percent more vitamin C than oranges.
Cabbage contains high levels of antioxidant sulforaphanes that not only fight free radicals before they damage DNA but also stimulate enzymes that detoxify carcinogens in the body. Researchers believe this one-two approach may contribute to the apparent ability of cruciferous vegetables to reduce the risk of cancer more effectively than any other plant food group.
Cabbage builds strong bones, dampens allergic reactions, reduces inflammation and promotes gastrointestinal health. Cabbage is routinely juiced as a natural remedy for healing peptic ulcers due to its high glutamine content. It also provides significant cardiovascular benefit by preventing plaque formation in the blood vessels. In Chinese medicine, cabbage is used to treat constipation, the common cold, whooping cough, depression, irritability and stomach ulcers.
How much: The more cabbage you can include in your diet, the better.
Tips: Try raw sauerkraut. It has all the health properties of cabbage, plus some potent probiotics, which are excellent for digestive health.

You'll find it difficult to locate another single food source with as much naturally occurring health-promoting properties as broccoli. A single cup of steamed broccoli provides more than 200 percent of the RDA for vitamin C, nearly as much of vitamin K, and about half of the daily allowance for vitamin A, along with plentiful folate, fiber, sulfur, iron, B vitamins and a whole host of other important nutrients. Broccoli contains about twice the amount of protein as steak.
Broccoli's phytochemicals fight cancer by neutralizing carcinogens and accelerating their elimination from the body, in addition to inhibiting tumors caused by chemical carcinogens. Studies show evidence that these substances help prevent lung and esophageal cancers.
Phytonutrients called indoles found in broccoli help protect against prostate, gastric, skin, breast and cervical cancers. Extensive studies have linked broccoli to a 20 percent reduction in heart disease risk. In Chinese medicine, broccoli is used to treat eye inflammation.
How much: If you can eat a little broccoli every day, your body will thank you for it. If you can't swing it, aim for eating it as regularly as possible. Like many other vegetables, broccoli provides fantastic nutrition both in its raw form and when it's properly cooked.
Tip: Steaming or cooking broccoli lightly releases the maximum amount of the antioxidant sulforaphane.

Kale is highly nutritious, has powerful antioxidant properties and is anti-inflammatory. One cup of cooked kale contains an astounding 1,328 percent of the RDA for vitamin K, 192 percent of the RDA for vitamin A and 89 percent of the RDA for vitamin C. It's also a good source of calcium and iron.
Kale is in the same plant family as another cruciferous superfood and contains high levels of the cancer-fighting compound sulforaphane. The indoles in kale have been shown to protect against breast, cervical and colon cancers. The vitamin K in kale promotes blood clotting, protects the heart and helps build strong bones by anchoring calcium to the bone. Kale has more antioxidant power than another leafy green and is extra-rich in beta-carotene (containing seven times as much as does broccoli), lutein and zeaxanthin (10 times the amount in broccoli). In Chinese medicine, kale is used to help ease lung congestion.
How much: Like cabbage, the more kale you can eat, the better. A daily serving is ideal.
Tips: Kale's growing season extends nearly year-round; the only time it's out of season is summer, when plenty of other leafy greens are abundant.

The same pesky weed known for ruining lawns has a long history of being used as a healing herb in cultures around the globe. One cup of raw dandelion greens provides 535 percent of the RDA of vitamin K and 112 percent of the RDA for vitamin A. Dandelion greens are also a good source of vitamin C, calcium, iron, fiber and potassium. Among all foods, it's one of the richest sources of vitamin A and one of the best sources of beta-carotene.
Dandelion has been used for centuries to treat hepatitis, kidney and liver disorders such as kidney stones, jaundice and cirrhosis. It's routinely prescribed as a natural treatment for hepatitis C, anemia and liver detoxification. As a natural diuretic, dandelion supports the entire digestive system and increases urine output, helping flush toxins and excess salt from the kidneys. The naturally occurring potassium in dandelions helps prevent the loss of potassium that can occur with pharmaceutical diuretics.
Dandelion promotes digestive health by stimulating bile production, resulting in a gentle laxative effect. Inulin further aids digestion by feeding the healthy probiotic bacteria in the intestines; it also increases calcium absorption and has a beneficial effect on blood sugar levels, therefore being useful in treating diabetes. Both the dandelion leaves and root are used to treat heartburn and indigestion. The pectin in dandelion relieves constipation and, in combination with vitamin C, reduces cholesterol. Dandelion is excellent for reducing edema, bloating and water retention; it can also help reduce high blood pressure. On top of all that, dandelion contains multiple antidiarrheal and antibacterial properties.
In Chinese medicine, dandelion is used in combination with other herbs to treat hepatitis and upper respiratory tract infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia. The sap from the stem and root is a topical remedy for warts.
How much: How much dandelion to incorporate into your diet boils down to availability and personal preference. Dandelion greens are considered a specialty item in some areas and therefore can be difficult to find. They also have a pungent taste, and people tend to love or hate the flavor.
Tips: Use the root in soups or sauté it on its own.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Peppery Mint Limeade


4 limes, juiced
1 cup white sugar
2 sprigs fresh mint
1/2 gallon water
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, sliced


In a large pitcher, stir together the lime juice and sugar until dissolved. Stir in mint sprigs, and mash with a wooden spoon to release some of the oils.

Pour in water, and mix well. Mix in jalapeno slices. Put a lid on the pitcher, and refrigerate 8 hours, or overnight before serving.

Lemon Verbena Iced Tea


1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup lemon verbena leaves
4 cups ice
6 cups brewed tea, chilled

Mint leaves (optional)
Lemon wedges (optional)


Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan;
bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until sugar dissolves. Cool sugar syrup completely.
Cook lemon verbena leaves in boiling water 1 minute. Drain and plunge into ice water; drain.

Combine sugar syrup and verbena leaves in a blender; process until smooth. Cover and chill overnight. Strain sugar syrup through a fine sieve into a bowl. Place 2/3 cup ice into each of 6 tall glasses; add 1 cup brewed tea and 2 tablespoons sugar syrup to each serving, stirring to combine. Garnish with mint leaves and lemon wedges, if desired.

Lemon Balm Mojitos


1 sprig fresh lemon balm leaves (About 5 leaves)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 ounces rum
1 1/2 ounces lime juice
Top with Sprite or tonic water


Put the lemon balm and the sugar in a short glass; bruise well together (don't shred). Add the shot of rum, a squeeze of lime, and fill the glass with tonic water. Add ice and stir gently. Garnish with a lime or lemon balm sprig.

Sage Tea


1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves or 1 teaspoon dried sage
1 cup water
1 wedge lemon (optional)
honey, to sweeten (optional)


Bring water to a boil. Remove from heat and put sage in the water. Let steep for about 3-5 minutes. (no more) Strain, pour in cup, add lemon and honey, if desired, and drink. You may drink this hot or cold.

Mint Julep


2 cups bottled water
3/4 cup sugar
3 cups loosely packed fresh mint leaves
2 cups bourbon
fresh mint sprigs (to garnish)


Combine the water and sugar in a large non-reactive
saucepan over medium heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the mint and bring to a boil. Remove from
the heat, cover and steep for 30 minutes.

Strain the mint syrup through a strainer lined with several thicknesses of cheesecloth then cool.

Combine the cooled mint syrup with the bourbon and pour into a sterilized bottle.
Wait at least one month before drinking. To serve, fill a julep cup or Collins glass with clear, crushed ice and fill with the mint julep mixture. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

Iced Mint Tea


12 bags single serving tea (caffinated or decafe)
2 quarts boiling water
10 sprigs mint
1 cup sugar (or to taste)
2 lemons, sliced


In large tea pot (or two small tea pots) pour boiling water over tea bags and mint and allow to steep for 20 minutes.

Place sugar in 2 -quart pitcher (that will tolerate some heat). Pour freshly brewed tea (minus mint and tea bags) into sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Place in refrigerator until ready to serve. To serve, pour into tall glasses over ice.
Serve with lemon slices.

Lemon Verbena Herb Tea


1 cup lemon verbena
3 leaves spearmint
1 quart boiling water


Put herbs in a teapot and add boiling water. Let
steep 3 minutes before serving.

Mint Limeade


6 cups water, divided
1 3/4 cups sugar, less to taste or Splenda sugar substitute, to taste *
1/3 cup fresh mint, coarsely chopped
1 cup fresh lime juice (about 12 limes)

10 mint sprigs, to garnish (optional)
10 lime slices, to garnish (optional)


Combine 2 cups water, sugar, and chopped mint
in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook until sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, let stand 10 minutes. Strain through a sieve into a bowl; discard solids.

Combine the remaining 4 cups water, sugar syrup, and lime juice in a large pitcher, stirring well. Serve over ice, garnish with mint sprigs and lime slices, if desired.

* This is fairly sweet so start out with less if you like things tart.

Lemon Verbena Infused Water


2-3 sprigs lemon verbena (6-10 leaves each)
1/2 gallon water


Rinse the Lemon Verbena and add leaves to a 2
quart jar of water.

Set in the sun, as if making sun tea.

Herbal Tea


1/2 teaspoon loose green tea leaves
1 teaspoon rosemary
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
honey (optional)
8 ounces water


Add to infuser and steep for 5-7 minutes.
Sweeten with honey if desired.



10 limes, fresh pulp and juice
30 leaves fresh mint
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup white rum
club soda, chilled


Place lime juice, mint and sugar into a pitcher.
Using a muddle stick mash to release mint oils, and dissolve sugar into juice.

Add rum and lots of ice topped with club soda. Adding more club soda to glasses if a lighter drink is desired. Garnish with fresh mint and lime slices

Sweet Moroccan Mint Tea


2 tablespoons chinese green tea
5 cups boiling water
1 bunch fresh mint
1/4 to 1 cup sugar, or to taste

Place tea in teapot. Pour in boiling water. Cover and steep 2 to 3 minutes.

Wash mint under running water and add to pot. Steep for 3 to 5 minutes. Add sugar. Serve in small glasses or tea cups.

Tomato and Herb Bruschetta


1 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes, halved, seeded and chopped
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
6 slices crusty bread, toasted,1/2 to 3/4 inch thick


Mix first 7 ingredients in bowl. Season to taste.

Cut toasted bread in half. Spoon tomato mixture on top of bread and serve.



6 roma tomatoes, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
8 slices Italian bread, cut about 1 inch thick
2 tablespoons grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese


Whisk together chopped garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper, and basil. When combined slowly drizzle in oil. Add tomatoes and let sit for 20 minutes at room temp.

Toast the bread. This can be done either in the toaster (if it's got really wide slots) or under the broiler (if using this method watch closely so it does not burn).

When the bread is toasted rub each piece, on one side, with the whole garlic pieces.
Place the bread on a cookie sheet and top with tomato mixture. Sprinkle on a little cheese and broil till the cheese melts. Serve immediately.

Mexican Rollups


8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup diced cooked chicken
1/4 lb monterey jack cheese, shredded
1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander or 1 teaspoon dried coriander
2 tablespoons diced fresh jalapeno peppers or canned jalapeno peppers
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 (10 inch) flour tortillas
Vegetable oil
Sour cream


In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, chicken, monterey jack, coriander, jalapeno peppers, and cumin. Spread mixture evenly over tortillas.

Roll up each tortilla tightly around chicken mixture. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Just before serving, cut each tortilla roll into 1/2 inch slices. Arrange on greased baking sheet, brush with oil, bake in 350 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Serve hot with salsa and sour cream.

Baked Mediterranean Feta


8 sheets aluminum foil
8 slices thick feta (one per person, about 4" x 3-inch x 1/2-inch per slice, patted dry)
8 slices fully ripened tomatoes
8 garlic cloves, minced
8 tablespoons olive oil
Dried oregano
Crushed red pepper flakes


Preheat oven to 380 degrees F.

Centre a slice of feta on each of the 8 sheets of foil. Centre a slice of tomato over that; sprinkle with garlic and oregano and a light sprinkling of red pepper flakes. Drizzle 1 tblsp of olive oil over each feta parcel and seal foil. Bake for 15 -20 minutes.

Place one packet per plate and allow guests to open their own packets. Serve with crusty bread as an appetizer.

Tuna Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes


2 6-ounce cans tuna in water, well drained
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1/2 cup minced shallots
6 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
40 cherry tomatoes *
Optional Garnish: Black Olive Slices, Parsley, Pimento


Place tuna in medium bowl. Flake with fork. Mix in yogurt and next 6 ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.

Cut off 1/4 inch from tops of tomatoes. Gently squeeze out seeds. Cut thin slice from bottoms of tomatoes so that they will stand upright or have them nested among greens on serving tray. Turn tomatoes top side up. Using small knife or melon baller, scoop out insides of tomatoes. Cover separately; chill. Pour off any excess liquid from tuna before continuing. Spoon tuna into tomatoes.

* May also use 2 hothouse cucumbers in place of the tomatoes. Using tines of fork, score sides of cucumber lengthwise. Cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Using melon baller, scoop out some seeds in center of each round, being careful not too scoop through bottom. Spoon tuna into scooped out rounds.

Roast Beef Rollups


1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
2 green onions, chopped about 1/2 cup
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish, drained
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
8 ounces deli roast beef, sliced
2 - 10 inch flour tortillas


Combine first 6 ingredients.

Place the two tortillas on work surface, spread half of cheese over each, top each with half of the roast beef slices, leaving a 1/2 inch border around edges. Roll up, wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, 30 minutes or up to 1 day ahead.

Cut diagonally into 1/2 inch slices and serve.

California Spring Rolls


4 surimi sticks (about 4 ounces), sliced lengthwise *
1/3 cup finely julienned carrots
1/3 cup finely julienned cucumber ( seeded)
1 cup loosely packed baby spinach leaves
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
4 large rice paper rounds
4 large fresh basil leaves/ halved lengthwise


Place a clean kitchen towel on a work surface.

Fill a large, shallow baking dish with water. Place 1 rice-paper round in the water and soak until pliable, about 30 seconds. Carefully transfer the wrapper to the towel and turn once to blot dry. Arrange 1/4 of the spinach, cucumber, carrot, cucumber and surimi in wraper lengthwise.
Fold the bottom edge toward the center and roll up the wrapper halfway, making sure to wrap tightly around the filling. Tuck 2 basil leaf halves along the inside crease of the half-rolled wrapper. Fold the right and left edges of the wrapper over the filling and finish rolling up. Repeat with the remaining wrappers. Transfer the rolls to a plate and cover with dampened paper towels.

To serve, cut the rolls in half on the diagonal and place on small individual plates. Serve with your favorite sauce.

* Variation: try using 1/2 surimi and 1/2 cooked cooled shrimp, split in half

Feta Herb Dip


4 ounces feta cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 - 4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley


Combine together in food processor or by hand.
Cover and chill for 30 minutes.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus


1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
1 (4 ounce) jar roasted red peppers
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese


In an electric blender or food processor, puree the chickpeas, red peppers, Feta, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, cumin, cayenne, and salt.

Process, using long pulses, until the mixture is fairly smooth, and slightly fluffy.
Make sure to scrape the mixture off the sides of the food processor or blender in between pulses.

Transfer to a serving bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Sprinkle the hummus with the chopped parsley before serving.

Cooks Note: The hummus can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated. Return to room temperature before serving

Salmon Rillette


1 celery stalk, sliced thin
1 onion, sliced thin
1 leek, sliced thin
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 cup white wine1 lemon, halved
6 ounces king salmon filet
2 ounces crème fraîche *
2 tablespoons minced chives
3 tablespoons lemon extra virgin olive oil


Bring a large pot of water to a simmer. Add the celery, onion, leek, peppercorns, bay leaf, wine and lemon and simmer for 25 minutes. Then add the salmon. Cover the pot, remove it from the heat, and let it stand for 10 minutes.
Remove the salmon and chill it in the refrigerator. Discard the vegetable water.

In a food processor or by hand, whip with salmon with the crème fraîche, chives, and olive oil, and add salt and pepper to taste. Keep the spread chilled until you're ready to serve. Serve with baguette slices.

*can substitute sour cream or a cream and sour cream combination



1 large avocado, scooped out of shell and mashed
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon salsa
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 tablespoon sweet onions, finely diced
1 teaspoon cilantro or parsley
1 tablespoon tomatoes, finely diced
2 teaspoons black olives, minced
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice or lime juice or Balsamic vinegar


Cut the avocado in half, scoop out the flesh with a spoon; mash 3/4 of it well and chop the remaining 1/4 coarsely. Mix in remaining ingredients
Serve immediately, or cover with plastic wrap, pressing wrap firmly to surface of guacamole (or it will turn color due to oxidation) and refrigerate up to 4 hours before serving

Cooking with Fresh Herbs

When using fresh herbs in cold dishes, they should be at room temperature. When preparing a dish that requires a lengthy cooking period, you can use a small, tied bunch of fresh herb sprigs. This bundle is generally known as a bouquet garni and customarily contains parsley, bay leaf, and thyme. Herbal combinations can also be minced and added to a meal immediately upon completion of cooking, and as a garnish before serving. This French practice is referred to as fines herbes. It contains chopped fresh chervil, parsley, tarragon, and chives. This blend is good on mild flavored cuisine like salads, scrambled eggs, and dishes containing poultry and fish.

There are no hard and fast rules when cooking with fresh herbs. Start to experiment using small amounts to see what you like. Here are a few ideas that will help you get started:

Try not to mix two very strong herbs together. Try mixing one strong and one or more with milder flavors to complement both the stronger herb and the food.

Usually, the weaker the flavor of the food (like eggs), the less added herbs are required to get a nice balance of flavor.

Dried herbs are more concentrated than fresh, and powdered herbs are more concentrated than crumbled. Each herb is slightly different but a starting formula is: 1/4 teaspoon powdered herbs is equaled to 3/4 to 1 teaspoon crumbled or the equivalent of 2 to 4 teaspoons fresh.

If chopping fresh herbs, chop the leaves very fine because the more of the oils and flavor will be released.

Start sparingly with the amount of an herb used until you become familiar with it. The aromatic oils can be less than appetizing if too much is used.

Usually extended cooking times reduces the flavoring of herbs, so add fresh herbs to soups or stews about 45 minutes before completing the cooking time. For refrigerated foods such as dips, cheese, vegetables and dressings, fresh herbs should be added several hours or overnight before using. Note: Fresh Basil is an exception. If you add it to salad dressing overnight or longer, it becomes bitter.

For salsa, hot sauces and picante, add finely chopped fresh or dried herbs directly to the mixture.

Make herbal butters and cream cheeses by mixing 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh herbs to 1/2 cup margarine, butter, cottage cheese, low fat yogurt or cream cheese. Let it set for at least an hour to blend the flavor; then taste test on a plain cracker or a melba round. You will gain a great feel for the dimensions of what the flavor will be good with by taste testing in this manner.
Flavor vinegar for use in cooking and in vinaigrettes. Bruise one cup of leaves for every 2 cups of white wine or delicate vinegar. Allow to steep for two weeks.

Cooking with Dried Herbs

Most herbal flavors and aromas are released by heat. Although fresh herbs are usually preferred, dried versions can be used. When possible, grind whole spices in a grinder or use a stone mortar & pestle just prior to using for enhanced flavor. Toasting or dry roasting whole spices in a dry skillet over medium heat before grinding will bring out even more flavor. A good rule of thumb is to substitute 1 teaspoon of crumbled, or 1/4 teaspoon powdered, dried herbs for each tablespoon of fresh herbs called for.

Harvesting and Storing Herbs

The optimum time to harvest herbs is in the morning, after the dew has evaporated, prior to the sun warming their leaves. Handle the herbs gently without bruising or injuring the leaves and stems. The distinctive oils that give herbs their aromas and flavors are volatile and can be destroyed if injured. Select just enough herbs to be used, dried or frozen, the same day. Herbs should look healthy, fresh and clean, with out any type of discoloring.

Since the flavor and aroma of herbs deteriorates quickly after picking, be prepared to use them immediately. If you must store them for a few hours, keep them in the refrigerator in a plastic bag that is perforated and can breath. When you are ready to use them, wash the herbs gently under cool, but not cold water and pat dry between paper towels.

Freezing fresh herbs is an easy way to store them for longer periods of time. Clean the herbs delicately, blot them dry, and remove leaves from the stalks. You can freeze them whole or chopped, packing into freezer safe bags or airtight containers. Chopped herbs that are to be used in soups or stews can be spooned into an ice cube tray, covered with water, and frozen. When you are ready to use the herbs, just remove what you need from the tray and add to the pot.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

How to Grow Thyme

Site: Full sun and good drainage are important for flavor and good growth. It is well suited to the rock garden or the front of a border. In England, it is grown between paving stones so that when it is trodden on, its highly aromatic scent is intensified.

Propagation: Thyme can be propagated in a variety of ways - seed, root division and from cuttings. The best way if you have no existing plants is to grow from seed - this will however take about a year. The best way for speed is to grow from root division or purchasing existing potted plants. Cuttings are not really recommended.

Growing: Thymes are very large family of plants which have been employed in the preparation of Greek and Mediterranean cuisine for centuries. French Thyme, English Thyme, Caraway Thyme, German Thyme, and Lemon Thyme are a few of the most common varieties. The pungency depends on the variety chosen. Common thyme is the strongest, lemon thyme is less pungent with a citrus flavor which makes it an excellent ingredient for custards and caraway thyme has a unique pine - caraway aroma. Some creep along the ground and others grow in a 1 1/2 foot clump.

Harvesting: Leaves can be picked at any time of the year but they are best while the plant is in bloom. Thyme can be dried and it can be frozen also.

Culinary Uses: This herb is the traditionally paired with parsley for poultry stuffing. Chop the leaves very fine to extract the flavor for garlic and tomato dishes, stuffing and marinades. Whole stems can be added to soups and broth but remove them after cooking. Thyme also adds a great flavor to vinegar and suits food cooked slowing in wine, especially poultry, shellfish and game. Whole stems can be rubbed onto meat before roasting. It can also be added to fruit salads, hot vegetables and jams. Use sparingly depending on the variety that you grow.

How to Grow Tarragon

Site: Tarragon likes a full sun and sheltered area in rich light and dry soil. It is very important that it has good drainage; add sand or grow it in a large container to make sure the roots will not rot and die. Bring it indoors, either as a potted plant or take cuttings, to grow over the winter months as it sometimes does not come back the following spring because of wet soil.

Propagation: The true French Tarragon has the best flavor and cannot be grown from seeds as this plant will not flower. Cuttings must be taken in order to reproduce this plant which makes it more expensive and harder to find.

Growing: Thin or transplant plants to 12 to 18 inches apart. Cut back in autumn. Protect in winter with straw or mulch. Tarragon is suitable for growing indoors. Remove flowering shoots to maintain the supply of fresh leaves on the bush.

Harvesting: Pick leaves anytime. Main crops occurs in late summer (June to October). If cutting branches, sever maximum of one to two-thirds of branch to allow for regrowth, unless it is the end of the growing season. Tarragon does not dry very well so freezing is the best method to preserve the flavor.

Culinary Uses: Chop the leaves very fine to extract the flavor for cream sauces and béarnaise sauce. It can be added to chicken or tuna salads, omelets and quiches, mayonnaise and mustard salad dressings. Try making flavored butter and combine with dill and parsley for baking or broiling fish. Chopped leaves can also be steeped in wine vinegar to produce tarragon vinegar.

How to Grow Sage

Site: Sage likes full sun with a light, dry, alkaline, well drained soil.

Propagation: Common sage can be easily started from seed. All forms take easily from cuttings, rooting time is about four weeks in summer.

Growing: Plant 18 to 24 inches apart. Prune frequently to attain bushy plants. If leaves begin to yellow, roots need more space. Sage can be grown indoors if you have enough sun. Lightly prune plant back after flowering in June. Common sage is a semi-hardy perennial that grows to 2 feet high, depending on variety. Other varieties include broad leaf, clary, and pineapple sage.

Harvesting: During the growing season, singular leaves can be picked straight from the plant after it has reached eight inches.

Culinary Uses: Sage has a very strong flavor. Its main role is to accompany onions in the traditional stuffing for poultry. It is also a wonderful accompaniment to veal and pork and goes well with sausage, kebabs and some bean and tomato dishes. Be careful not to use too much. It can be overpowering.

How to Grow Rosemary

Site: Needs a sunny area with excellent drainage. On limy soil, rosemary is a smaller but more fragrant plant. To provide additional lime, apply eggshells or potash. Must be protected from cold winds and winter temperature. Give plants frequent water (every 3 to 5 days) during the first growing season, and then decrease irrigation frequency once the root system has established. Once established, irrigate when they begin to show any signs of wilting. Excessively irrigated plants become very woody.

Propagation: Rosemary seed can be sown in May but you will get better results buying pot grown plants at the nursery. Seeds germinate slowly and erratically - and then only when they're very fresh. For potted plants, use a clay pot that measures at least 12 inches deep and 12 inches across and has plenty of drainage holes. Fill it with a light, coarse potting mix, such as cactus soil with a handful of perlite added. Set the plants into their new quarters at the same depth they were growing in their nursery pots. Rosemary dislikes being moved so place it in a permanent spot in your herb garden..

Growing: To plant outdoors, leave 2 to 3 feet between plants. Container grown indoor plants must have a sunny position. Rosemary is available in the prostrate growth form (1 to 2 feet in height) or the upright growth form (3 to 6 feet in height). The upright varieties make a good, informal evergreen hedge. If pruning is required, upright plants should be selectively pruned rather than sheared. Prostrate forms look best in cascading over masonry or rock walls or in rock gardens where the individual branches create interesting edge patterns. These can also be shaped easily by selective pruning.

Harvesting: Clip leaves or sprigs anytime you need them all year round but gather main leaf harvest before flowering.

Culinary Uses: Add very sparingly (rosemary can be overpowering) to a wide range of meat and poultry dishes, especially lamb, pork and chicken. Rosemary is also good for flavoring baked potatoes.

How to Grow Parsley

Site: Parsley likes full sun or light shade. Plant in a rich moist and deeply dug soil. Water during dry weather.

Propagation: Although germination is notoriously slow, seed propagation is the easiest way to start plants. The rate of germination can range from 2 - 5 weeks. To help hasten the process, soak the seeds in warm water twenty-four hours prior to planting. Seeds can be started indoors in the late winter approximately 6 - 8 weeks ahead of time for outdoor planting. Seeds can also be sown directly in the ground where they are to be grown, after danger of spring frosts has passed. Sow evenly, covering seeds with 1/8 inch of soil and keep them moist.

Growing: Thin or transplant plants to 9 inches apart. Parsley must be protected in cold weather by covering with cloches or straw. Parsley can also be grown well indoors.

Harvesting: Pick leaves for continued regrowth. Remove flowering stems as they appear, but a few can be left in the second season to provide seeds for self sowing.

Culinary Uses: Curly leaf varieties are probably the most attractive for garnishes but the most flavorful are the Italian or flat leaf varieties. Parsley leaves have mild flavoring and can be added raw to salads. Finely chop and sprinkle over sandwiches, egg dishes, vegetable soups, fish and boiled potatoes. Add to spreads and sauces or cook to enhance other flavors. Always add toward the end of cooking time.

How to Grow Mustard Seed

Site: Average garden soil and plenty of sun are the minimum growing requirements. Likes sun but benefits from shade in summer to prevent bolting.

Propagation: Sow seed in the spring when the soil has warmed to 55 or 60 degrees.Plant in rows or broadcast seed over a large area. Plant every 3 weeks thoughout the year for salad greens

Growing: Thin to 6 inches for seed crops. It is not necessary to thin for salad greens. Can be grown indoors.

Harvesting: Gather seed pods before they open. Pick seed pods before they open in late summer. Cut salad leaves 8-10 days after sowing. Pick single leaves on older plants.

Culinary Uses: Black mustard seed is the powerful old-fashioned mustard that gave this condiment its illustrious start. Black mustard is difficult to harvest with modern machines because of the plant's irregular heights.

White or yellow mustard is the favored of commercial growers. The seed of yellow mustard is larger but has less pungency . It is the seed for that is used for most American brands of prepared mustard. Much of the seed used for all commercial mustards, both American and European, is grown in the USA.

Brown mustard is the hot and spicy type of mustard. It is used frequently to season Indian and Oriental cooking or mixed with yellow to make European and gourmet-type mustards.

How to Grow Mint

Site: Likes moist, well drained, alkaline soil rich in nutrients. Does not do well in well manured soils. Does well in full sun or partial shade. Water frequently, but it will not die if it goes dry.

Propagation: The easiest way to propagate mint, and to know exactly what you're getting, is to take root cuttings from established plantings. Don't even attempt to grow from seed. In fact with all the hundreds and hundreds of hybridized varieties, just let your nose choose the mint you want instead of relying on a name.

Growing: Plant pieces of root 2 inches deep and 9 inches apart in autumn or spring. Top dress with compost in autumn if the plants are not lifted annually. Thin or transplant plants to 12 inches apart into large pots or polyethene bags to restrain invasive roots. Mint can easily take over your herb garden. (If rust appears, the plant must be dug up and burned.) Don't be afraid to cut and prune, even right down to the soil. This can be a couple of times a year, to keep it from going woody.

Harvesting: Pick leaves of this herb plant just before flowering. The best leaves to use are the top bud and first two leaves; pinch out the growing tip rather than cut a whole stem.

Culinary Uses: Peppermint's sweet, strong mint flavor is good for many candies. Spearmint's flavor is stronger but less sweet than peppermint and and along with Bowles mint is the variety used to make traditional mint sauce for lamb. Corsican Mint which is mat-forming ground cover that can be walked upon, releasing its creme de menthe fragrance is often used to flavor liqueurs, along with peppermint. Fresh leaves of mint may be added to tea for a refreshing drink or to brighten potatoes, peas and fruit salads.

How to Grow Marjoram / Oregano

Site: These herbs from the same family, have similar flavors and are both easy to grow. Both plants enjoy bright sunlight and are not too dependent on soil type and deserve places in your herb garden. Their moisture needs are different though. Marjoram prefers to be in soil that is moist whereas oregano prefers drier conditions.

Propagation: Start both herbs either from seed in spring or from from cuttings in the summer or root divisions in the fall.

Growing: Oregano will creep along the ground growing to 6 feet in girth in a single season. Marjoram will grow basically upright and can be up to 2 feet across and tall. Growing either of them in pots works well if they are given plenty of light.

Harvesting: Trim the leaves as you need them.

Culinary Uses: Since Marjoram's flavor is sweeter and milder, it is best to use fresh leaves. Add leaves at the last moment when you use them for cooking. Its slightly mintly, citrus taste works well with salad dressings, seafood sauces, soups, and poultry. It's lighter flavor also pairs well with cheese, tomato, bean or egg dishes. Marjoram is found in many recipes French or English cuisine.

Oregano's stronger and more robust flavor is often found in the cuisine of Italy, Greece, North Africa and Mexico. It's pungent, spicy flavor goes well with tomato based sauces, eggplant, seafood, and grilled meats. Italian dishes are almost synonymous with oregano, in fact, who could imagine pasta sauce or pizza without it. Oregano's rich flavor deepens and blends with flavors of soups and sauces without being overwhelming. Because it retains its flavor well, oregano can be used either fresh or dried.

How to Grow Lemon Grass

Site: Plant Lemongrass in full sun in rich, well-draining soil. Lemongrass also works well in containers. We recommend a three-gallon pot.

Propagation: Lemongrass is easily propagated by root division. When dividing clumps, each stalk should have about one-inch of root attached. For better success, cut the blades to about two-inches before dividing. Lemongrass has a very extensive root system. So, for potted plants, it is important to divide it yearly.

Growing: Allow soil to dry between waterings in the growing season. Water sparingly in winter.

Fertilize every two weeks during the growing season. Most balanced fertilizers are adequate, but 15-30-15 worked best in our trials. Time-release granules also work well. Fertilizing is not necessary during the winter.

This tender perennial can be grown year-round outdoors in USDA Zones 8-12 (southern United States). In cold climates, Lemongrass should be overwintered inside. It is easily dug up and re-potted, if necessary. When frozen, Lemongrass will die.

Pests and diseases are very infrequent.

Harvesting: Blades must be 12-inches tall before cutting. If you're harvesting for food, cut about one-inch above the crown. If you cut any lower, that section of the plant will not re-grow.

Culinary Uses: Lemongrass has long been in used for teas, soups and in Oriental cooking. Just about every part of Lemongrass can be used, including the leaf tips, tender shoots and whole leaves. Snip a few leaves into a pot of tea for a refreshing flavor and added aroma. For a delicate hint of lemon, add a bunch of Lemongrass to the water used for steaming meats and vegetables. Add the tender shoots to a stir fry for a subtle, yet exotic flavor enhancement.

How to Grow Lemon Balm

Site: Plant in warm, moist soil in a sunny location with midday shade. Good sun and moisture are necessary for the production of essential oil and good fragrance.

Propagation: Sow seeds in spring. Divide plant or take cuttings in late spring and root them in water. Seeds are slow to germinate and are so fine that they hardly need covering at all.

Growing: This vigorous plant will readily spread in your herb garden. It reaches a height of 3 feet with a spread of 2 feet. The oval, heart-shaped leaves have slightly serrated edges and a pronounced network of veins; they can be up to 2½ inches across. Cut back to soil level in the fall to encourage strong growth. The plant will not tolerate high humidity. Lemon Balm also performs well in containers.

Harvesting: Pick the leaves of this fragile herb anytime, but handle gently to avoid bruising. The flavor of the leaves is optimum just as the small, white flowers begin to open from mid to late summer.

Culinary Uses: Use fresh leaves in sparingly in salads and as a garnish for fish and other dishes. Chopped leaves can be added to fish and chicken dishes and sprinkled over fresh vegetables. Add the leaves to cooked dishes in the last few minutes. They can also be added to summer drinks and fruit salads, and make a good substitute for lemon peel in jams and jelly recipes.

How to Grow Lavender

Site: Lavender needs a sunny, well drained site to discourage fungus disease.

Propagation: Sow fresh seed in late summer and autumn or buy pots of rooted cuttings. Cuttings from strong new growth can be propagated in summer or autumn or from seeds sown indoors in trays. Once rooted, plant them in a well drained, poor soil about 1 foot apart. Foliage will yellow in poorly drained soil.

Growing: Thin or transplant plants to 18 inches - 2 feet apart, or 12 inches apart for hedges. Depending on the variety (of which there are many) lavender grows 10 inches to 3 feet. Choose the type that best suits the space you are planting in. For hedges, choose the dwarf variety. Prune the shrub in fall after flowering or in early spring, but do not cut back into the old wood. They eventually become gangly, so you will need to replant once every 5 years.

Harvesting: Gather flowering stems just as flowers open. Pick leaves anytime.

Culinary Uses: Fresh lavender flowers can be used to flavor syrup for jellies. Mix 6 flowerheads into each pint of apple jelly syrup. Remove the lavender before bottling. It is also used to flavor fruit salad and milk and cream for deserts. Flowers be candied to decorate cakes and puddings. Use lavender instead of rosemary when cooking chicken, flavoring vinegar and making fragrant stews. As a side usage, lavender is wonderful in potpourri.

How to Grow Horseradish

Site: Horseradish likes an open sunny position with light, well dug, rich and moist soil.

Propagation: Start by planting horseradish in the fall or very early spring. Make holes with a dibber about two feet apart. Use root pieces (thongs) that are 1/2" width in diameter and about 6 long. Plant vertically in soil, at a depth of 2 inches.

Growing: Thin out or transplant to 12 inches apart. Do not try growing horseradish indoors. One to three plants will be more than enough for a home garden.

Harvesting: Dig up roots as needed or in October, lift all the plants and store the roots in sand for use and for replanting in spring. Pick young leaves for immediate usage.

Culinary Uses: Young leaves can be used in salads. Roots can be used to make horseradish sauce to accompany roast beef, ham and smoked or oily fish and shellfish. Grate into coleslaw, dips, cocktail sauce, pickled beets, cream cheese, sour cream or avocado fillings. NOTE: Grating horseradish is an unpleasant and eye-watering job - make life easier by using the shredder attachment of a food processor to do the grating for you.

How to Grow Garlic Chives

Site: Garlic Chives prefer a sunny position in a rich, moist, but well-drained soil, but are also quite forgiving of adverse conditions.

Propagation: Garlic chives sprout easily from seed, after which they can easily be propagated by clump division, or you can just buy the plants.

Growing: Space the clumps 9 inches apart and 2 inches deep. It is wise to re-divide one's garlic chives every few years, to maintain plant vigor. Division can be done almost anytime, but is probably best done in spring. Water the plants regularly especially during dry spells. Garlic chives generally like moist (but not soggy) soil. During their first season, hold down watering to encourage root growth. If your herb plant seems to be getting woody, prune all down to about an inch above the soil level to let new growth begin. Garlic chives tends to go dormant in climates with harsh winters.

Harvesting: Garlic chives need to be harvested often. You can treat it like ordinary chives, pinching off any flower buds that appear, or you can let it flower in the autumn, as the buds and flowers are as edible as the leaves. The leaves are flat shaped rather than tube shaped like regular chives but are cut the same to within an inch of soil level.

Culinary Uses: This close cousin to regular chives has a mild garlic flavor and are sometimes called Chinese Chives since they are used primarily in Asian cooking. Pink flowers appear on the common Chives and the Garlic chives have white flowers. They are also edible and can be used to garnish salads. See Harvesting and Storing Herbs.

How to Grow Fennel

Site: Fennel needs moist, fertile, well-drained soil and full sun.

Propagation: Sow seeds on 6" spacing in the spring after danger of frost has past or purchase pre-started plants from your local garden center. Keep soil moist until seeds have sprouted. Plant fennel in successive crops to ensure a steady supply. Planting just one plant then letting it go to seed will give you plenty of plants to contend with the following years - perhaps too prolific.

Growing: It will make remarkable growth the first year, providing plenty of foliage to harvest. The second year plants will reach full height and continue to be prolific in the garden.

Harvesting: Harvest leaves any time after plant becomes established. These leaves can be used fresh or frozen. Stems can be harvested in late summer. To collect seed cut flower heads just as the seeds turn brown and dry them in a paper bag. Once dried separate the seed and store in an air tight container.

Culinary Uses: This tall, graceful Mediterranean herb (do not confuse it with Florence fennel - a vegetable grown for its swollen stem base) has a delicious sweet licorice scent and is often interchangeable with dill in recipes. Use the chopped foliage for fish, salads, vegetables and soups. The seeds are highly recommended for cooking with oily fish such as mackerel.

How to Grow Dill

Site: Choose an area that is well drained with rich soil. Dill plants like full sun with afternoon shade.

Propagation: Dill does not take well to disturbances. Sow the seeds in April where the plants are to grow and thin to 12 inches apart.

Growing: Dill grows best in spring and fall and does not do well when the hot part of summer sets in. About 85 degrees is the hottest it can stand before it shrivels up and dies or bolts to flower. It grows to about a foot or so tall and the flower stalks extend up to 3 feet tall.

Harvesting: To harvest seeds, cut the stems when the flower-heads have turned brown. Tie a paper bag over each flower-head and hang the stems upside-down in bunches. The leaves are tender and delicate so they must be used as soon as they are cut. You can begin cutting as soon as the plant is about 6" tall by removing the outer leaves and leaving the main stem intact for the new leaves to grow from.

Culinary Uses: Chop the leaves before adding to dips, cream sauces for fish like salmon, salad dressings, tuna and chicken salads, stuffed eggs, coleslaw, and pickles of course. Dill is exceptionally good with sour cream, yogurt, and cream cheese. The main use of the seeds is in pickling vinegar for cucumbers, but they can also be added to cakes, bread, fish and rice dishes.

How to Grow Curry

Site: Curry plant prefers to be planted in full sun in a sheltered area. It flowers prolifically in poor well-drained loamy soil. The curry plant is a tender perennial hardy to zone 8, but can be grown with protection in zone 6. Not suitable for growing indoors, but can be grown in pots outdoors.

Propagation: Seed - sow February/March in a greenhouse. The seed usually germinates in 2 - 3 weeks at 20°c. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Take stem cuttings in spring or autumn.

Growing: Plant 12 inches apart. Prune lightly in early autumn or spring. In areas with light frost, curry plants may die back temporarily. Protect leaves with 5-inch sleeve of straw set between chicken wire. In areas where temperature drops below 22°F, bring curry plants indoors for winter protection.

Harvesting: Pick leaves anytime and gather flowers as they open.

Culinary Uses: The leaves can be used fresh or dried to give a subtle seasoning to soups or stews but there is no resemblance to the intensity of flavour derived from M.koenigii. The flowers, which are borne in umbels, can be used in the kitchen as an attractive garnish or they can be dried for winter arrangements.

How to Grow Caraway

Site: Caraway likes full sun and a rich loam, well drained soil.

Propagation: Late spring or early autumn is the best time to sow the seeds in shallow (1/2 inch deep) drills. Both partial shade and heavy soil are tolerated well. Caraway does not do well with being transplanted. Sow the seed where it is to grow. The seed is slow to germinate, making weed control important during the seedling stage.

Growing: Thin plants to about 6 to 8 inches apart when large enough to handle. It self-seeds continually. Caraway can also be grown indoors in a sunny position.

Harvesting: Gather leaves when young. Pick seed heads in late summer or when seeds are brown. Dig up roots in second year.

Culinary Uses: Hang sun dried seed heads upside down over a open container and shake to remove. The seeds can be sprinkled over meats, goulash, cabbage or to flavor soups and breads. Chopped young leaves can be added to salads and soups and the roots can be cooked as a vegetable.

How to Grow Chives

Site: Chives thrive in full sun and well drained moist soil rich in organic matter. They tolerate light shade, but 6 - 8 hours of direct light is best.

Propagation: Chives can be raised from seed sown in March but it is easier to plant pot-grown specimens in your herb garden during spring or autumn. The most successful means of propagating chives is planting rooted clumps from plants in spring, after frost danger has passed.

Growing: Space the clumps 9 inches apart and 2 inches deep. Divide and replant clumps every 3 or 4 years. Division is best done in spring. Replant new clumps in soil enriched with organic matter, such as fine compost. Water the plants regularly especially during dry spells. Pot in autumn for indoor supply. Can be grown indoors in a sunny window. Over-fertilizing can be detrimental to chives as this plant is not a heavy feeder. A soil rich in organic matter should provide sufficient nutrients.

Harvesting: Cut the grassy leaves to within an inch of soil level - never snip off just the tips and never leave the flower-heads to open if you want a regular supply of leaves. Cut flower stalks off at the soil line once they finish blooming. This will prevent the plant from forming seed and keep it more productive.

Culinary Uses: This is an herb with many uses and universal appeal and is a must for any herb garden. The flavor difference between dried chives and fresh chives is significant. The mild onion flavor can be added to potato salad, stuffed eggs, soups, salads, omelets, cream cheese and sauces. This is an herb needed in everyone's kitchen. Much of its value is lost by drying - for winter use, grow a pot or two indoors or freeze by the ice-cube method. See Harvesting and Storing Herbs.

How to Grow Bay Leaf

Site: Sweet bay laurel requires full sun but needs protection from easterly winds with a soil or compost containing lime. Water regularly but not too much during summer months. During the wintertime, it needs very little water.

Propagation: Only the experienced gardener should try propagating sweet bay. Take 4 inch cutting of stems in late summer. Plant cutting in heated propagator with high humidity then transplanted to to a frost free area. It is best to buy a pot grown specimen and plant in spring.

Growing: A sweet bay laurel will grow to about 15 - 20 feet tall in milder climates. Its growth is slow only about 1 foot each year. This is a great plant to grow in a large container for the first 5 years of its life. If you live in an area where the winters do not reach below 25 degrees you can plant them outdoors. If you live in an area with harsh winters, leave it in the pot and bring it indoors during the winter.

Harvesting: To harvest leaves, just pull individual leaves from the sides of the stem. Cutting off a branch tip will make the plant branch out into a fuller shrub.

Culinary Uses: In cooking, remember that fresh sweet bay is stronger than the dried bay leaves, so use very sparingly. The scent is not present until the leaf is heated, when the oils are released. One fresh leaf in stews, and spaghetti sauces is usually plenty.

How to Grow Basil

Site: Basil needs a sunny location which receives at least 6-8 hours of bright light per day and moist but well drained soil conditions. Protect from heavy wind, frost and scorching. It does not do well with blaring midday sun.

Propagation: Sow seeds thinly in a warm location in pots or directly in the soil after danger of frost has passed. Sow evenly, covering with 1/4" of soil and keep moist and free of weeds. Germination will occur within 5 - 8 days. Once seedlings have developed, they can be thinned or transplanted to stand 6" - 12" apart. Seeds can also be sown indoors 6 - 8 weeks before planting outside. Avoid over watering seedlings.

Growing: Depending on the amount of regular rainfall, water deeply once every 7 - 10 days to insure the roots are receiving adequate moisture. Always watering at midday not in the evening. In hot weather, syringe leaves. Basil grows well potted in containers. Plants grown in containers will dry out faster than those in garden beds and therefore will have to be watered more frequently. Choose container with holes in the bottom for proper drainage. Fertilize sparingly. Basil will not survive harsh winters. At the end of the growing season, you may pot the plant and bring it inside for the winter. Place in a place with plenty of bright sunlight.

Harvesting: Pick or snip leaves when young and as they are needed. If whole stem sections are being harvested, cut just above a pair of leaves. Snipping the leaves actually encourages new growth and can be seen in less than a week. For culinary uses, it is important to prune or trim the plant periodically through the growing season or it will not retain productive growth. If the plant flowers and form seeds, it will become woody and yield will be reduced.

Culinary Uses: Basil's warm spicy essence is revered by cooks from the Orient to the Mediterranean. Sliced tomatoes are divine when topped with a sprinkle of olive oil and a basil chiffonade. Basil's pungent flavor complements garlic well. Used in pesto and tomato based Italian sauces, blended vinegar as well as spicy Thai cuisine.

Cutinary Guide to a Herb Graden

Having access to a small herb garden can be as simple as having a nice large squatty pot just outside your kitchen door containing a few of your favorite herbs like the one at the left containing sweet basil, purple leaf basil, chives and flat leaf parsley.

Your food preference tastes should dictate what you would like to grow. Two favorites that almost everyone would agree upon are parsley and chives. Their mild flavors are very versatile and can be used in any variety of cuisine.

Perhaps you want your mini garden within arms reach of your cooking area. All you have to do is design a window box or group of planters for your kitchen. When creating this mini herb garden, decide where your box will be located.

The amount of sun that you get in the chosen window will dictate which herbs to select. Both southern and western exposures are generally sunny and hot. Good choices are are thyme, coriander, French lavender, bay laurel, basil, lemon verbena, dill, parsley, chives, sage and rosemary. A nice combination of both upright and trailing herbs is attractive, so consider adding creeping thymes or oregano or to you mini garden for a little eye appeal.

Northern and eastern exposures will provide more shade and are not as warm. Shade loving plants that will work nice here include parsley, spearmint, peppermint, lemon balm, chives, borage, and Cuban oregano.

Fill your container(s) half full of potting soil mix with equal parts of potting soil, peat moss and vermiculite. Move and place plants until you are pleased with how the design looks. Remember to keep in mind the mature sizes of the plants and what their growth habits are. Do not place a

plant that will mature at 12 inches in front of a plant that will mature no taller than 2 inches. Don't fear mixing plants together - it will not hurt anything.

Once you have settled on the placement of the plants, add potting soil to about 1 inch below the rim of the container. Tamp the soil down firmly and liberally water. Pinch back any large growth to promote thick growth.

When planning an herb garden outside, you can start modestly with a few pots on the patio or located on a bakers rack. Some herbs like sage, thyme and mint are available in different colors, so that you can make an attractive bed in various shades.

Construct the bed as close as possible to the house, so you do not neglect to gather the herbs for cooking during wet weather. Whenever possible, grow each type of herb in a separate pocket. You can actually divide the bed into distinct pockets with dwarf hedges of lavender or you can use concrete or stone pavers or stones to add a landscaped design. This way, herbs may easily be reached by footpaths and easily replaced without disturbing other plants that are nearby. Keeping plants harvested insures thick and hearty growth.

Since most herbs grow well in full sun to part shade, choose a spot for your garden that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. Make sure there is good drainage and easy accessibility. When planning your garden, take into consideration the height and sizes of herbs; shown below.

Herb Heights and Sizes:

Small: 1- 1 1/2 feet or less in diameter and less than 1 foot tall
Parsley, Chives, Cilantro, Fernleaf Dill (other dills grow to 3' tall), Cuban Basil, Thyme

Medium: 2 feet to 4 feet wide, less than 2 feet tall
Marjoram, Basils (except African Blue), Tarragon, Savory, Thyme, Chocolate Mint and Peppermint

Short but Large: 4-6 feet wide, less than 1 foot tall
Oregano, Spearmint, Orange Mint

Large: 4-6 feet wide and tall
African Blue Basil, Rosemary, Lavenders, Sages, Lemon Verbena, Pineapple Sage

Sweet Bay Laurel (This is actually a tree but it makes a great central point of interest to your herb garden (whether potted or planted in the ground). It grows very slowly but will eventually reach 15-20 feet tall.)

Garden Herbs for Beginners Like Me

Beginning herb gardeners may have a problem deciding which herbs to plant because of the large number of herbs from which to select. A quick check of your supermarket shelf will give you some idea of the types of herbs used in cooking and also will serve as a planting guide. Many cookbooks also offer information on uses of various herbs as flavorings.
Following is a good variety of flavors and uses of recommended herbs for beginners:

Strong herbs -- winter savory, rosemary, sage

Herbs strong enough for accent -- sweet basil, dill, mint, sweet marjoram, tarragon, thyme

Herbs for blending -- chives, parsley, summer savory

As your interest and needs increase, you can add to the variety of herbs in your garden. Keep in mind that herbs can be annuals, biennials, or perennials when selecting herbs to grow for the first time.

Annuals (bloom one season and die) anise, basil, chervil, coriander, dill, summer savory

Biennials (live two seasons, blooming second season only) caraway, parsley

Perennials (overwinter; bloom each season once established) chives, fennel, lovage, marjoram, mint, tarragon, thyme, winter savory.

Outdoor Herb Culture Tips
Most commonly used herbs will grow in the Northeast. If you have room, you can make herbs part of your vegetable garden. However, you may prefer to grow herbs in a separate area, particularly the perennials.

Herb Garden Size

First, decide on the size of your herb garden; this will depend on the amount of variety you want. Generally, a kitchen garden can be an area 20 by 4 feet. Individual 12- by 18-inch plots within the area should be adequate for separate herbs. You might like to grow some of the more colorful and frequently used herbs, such as parsley and purple basil, as border plants. Keep annual and perennial herbs separate. A diagram of the area and labels for the plants also will help.

Site and Soil Conditions

When selecting the site for your herb garden, consider drainage and soil fertility. Drainage is probably the most important single factor in successful herb growing. None of the herbs will grow in wet soils. If the garden area is poorly drained, you will have to modify the soil for any chance of success. To improve drainage at the garden site, remove the soil to a depth of 15 to 18 inches. Place a 3-inch layer of crushed stone or similar material on the bottom of the excavated site. Before returning the soil to the bed area, mix some compost or sphagnum peat and sand with it to lighten the texture. Then, refill the beds higher than the original level to allow for settling of the soil.

The soil at the site does not have to be especially fertile, so little fertilizer should be used. Generally, highly fertile soil tends to produce excessive amounts of foliage with poor flavor. Plants, such as chervil, fennel, lovage, and summer savory, require moderate amounts of fertilizer. Adding several bushels of peat or compost per 100 square feet of garden area will help improve soil condition and retain needed moisture.

Sowing Herb Seed

Nearly all herbs can be grown from seed. Although rust infects mints, very few diseases or insects attack herbs. In hot, dry weather, red spider mites may be found on low-growing plants. Aphids may attack anise, caraway, dill, and fennel.

A few herbs, such as mints, need to be contained or they will overtake a garden. Plant them in a no. 10 can or bucket; punch several holes just above the bottom rim to allow for drainage. A drain tile, clay pot, or cement block also can be used. Sink these into the ground; this should confine the plants for several years.

Herbs can also be grown in containers, window boxes, or hanging baskets. These methods will require more care, especially watering.

If possible, sow seeds in shallow boxes in late winter. Transplant seedlings outdoors in the spring. A light, well-drained soil is best for starting the seedlings indoors. Be careful not to cover the seeds too deeply with soil. Generally, the finer the seed, the shallower it should be sown. Sow anise, coriander, dill, and fennel directly in the garden since they do not transplant well.

Most biennials should be sown in late spring directly into the ground. Work the soil surface to a fine texture and wet it slightly. Sow the seeds in very shallow rows and firm the soil over them. Do not sow the seeds too deeply. Fine seeds, such as marjoram, savory, or thyme, will spread more evenly if you mix them with sand. Some of the larger seeds can be covered by as much as one-eighth of an inch of soil. With fine seeds, cover the bed with wet burlap or paper to keep the soil moist during germination. Water with a fine spray to prevent washing away of the soil.

Cutting and Division

Cutting and division also are useful in propagating certain herbs. When seeds are slow to germinate, cuttings may be the answer. Some herbs, however, spread rapidly enough to make division a main source of propagation. Tarragon, chives, and mint should be divided while lavender should be cut.

Grow Herbs Indoors

Enjoy Fresh Herbs, Even In Winter
Is it possible to grow herbs indoors in the dead of winter? Yes, if you choose the right herbs and create the right conditions for them. You can transplant herbs from your garden, buy seedlings from your garden center, or start with seeds. Here are some tips to make growing herbs in the home easy.

Keep on the Sunny Side
Herbs need sun � lots of it. Most herbs require at least 6 hours of sun per day outdoors. Indoors, much less light gets in, especially in the winter. So be sure to place your herb garden by a window that faces south. You will also need a grow lamp shining on your garden for at least 12 hours a day. There are many different kinds available, including compact fluorescent bulbs that save energy.

Use Good Potting Mix
Your herbs will need nutrients, oxygen, and moisture at the root level. Try to use a quality potting mix, such as Miracle-Gro® Moisture Control® Potting Mix, which contains wetting agents that hold and release moisture as the plant needs it.

Remember to Feed and Water Your Herbs
Watering is always a challenge with indoor plants. Let the plant's container mix dry out, then water until you see pooling near the container holes. Avoid overwatering. Help your plant grow by feeding it every week or two with Miracle Gro® Watering Can Singles All Purpose Water Soluble Plant Food. If your plants are not in the growing stage, cut back on the feeding to about once a month.

A Growing Tip
Since air and soil temperature can affect plant growth rates, keep your seedlings warm with a seedling heat mat, available at your garden center.

Good Plants for Your Herb Garden
If you're growing from seed, look for newer varieties that are dense and compact, since standard ones may not be satisfactory in the house. Popular herbs include basil, thyme, oregano, and rosemary. Ask at your garden center for recommendations.

A Note on Garden Plants
Plants taken straight from an outdoor sunny spot to an indoor pot can go into a sort of light-deprivation shock. You might want to help them adjust by moving them from full sun to partial shade for a few weeks, and then to deeper shade before moving them indoors.

Plant a Delicious Herb

Plant a Delicious Herb Garden
Imagine reaching out your kitchen door and picking home-grown herbs for your salad or main course. Fresh herbs add great flavor to the meal. Besides, their fragrance and beauty enhance any garden. Plant one anywhere � in the ground or in containers.

What You'll Need:
Miracle-Gro® Garden Soil for Flowers & Vegetables
Miracle-Gro® LiquaFeed® All Purpose Plant Feeding System
Trowel or shovel
Project Steps
Choose What You Want to Grow, and Where
Find a spot that gets at least four to six hours of sunlight a day, then decide what herbs you want. If your area is sunny, then basil, chives, cilantro, dill, oregano, parsley, and rosemary are good candidates. If you only have partial sun, go with herbs such as bee balm, lemon balm, catnip, and mint.

Prepare Your Soil
It's always a good idea to mix in nutrient-rich organic material to your soil, such as Miracle-Gro® Garden Soil for Flowers & Vegetables. This will give your herbs a good start as they get established.

Plant Your Herbs
Check the instructions on your herbs to see how they should be spaced. To avoid shocking your herbs, plant them in the early morning. First, dig out a hole that is about twice as wide as your plant's root ball. Gently place your plant in the hole, then backfill. That's all there is to it.

Maintaining Your Herb Garden
Only harvest less than a third of the plant at a time. Otherwise, it will have trouble growing back. For fuller foliage, pinch off the top of the plant in early summer.

Grow Cilantro

Get 2 Tastes from 1 Herb
Cilantro is an annual herb that offers two distinct flavors from different parts of the plant. The lacy leaves add their pungent, citrusy flavor to many Mexican and Asian dishes. The seeds, generally known as coriander, have a lemony flavor when ground and used as a spice.

What You'll Need:
Miracle-Gro® Garden Soil or Potting Mix
Cilantro seeds
Project Steps
Grow Cilantro from Seed
Sow cilantro seeds in early spring, after the last frost. If your winters are mild and summers extremely hot, sow seeds in fall. Plant the seeds in well-drained, slightly acidic soil in a sunny or partially shaded location where they can stay. Because cilantro plants have deep taproots, they don't tolerate transplanting.

Water and Thin Your Cilantro Seedlings
After planting, keep cilantro seeds and seedlings evenly moist. Gradually thin the seedlings to about a foot apart.

When to Harvest Your Cilantro
The lower leaves of cilantro are the ones you want for cooking. You can begin picking them when several stems have developed. Cut the heads when seedpods begin to turn brown, then hang them upside down in paper bags to catch the seeds for coriander.

Fresh Cilantro Leaves Taste the Best
Heat dissipates the flavor of cilantro, so add the leaves to cooked food just before serving. Leaves can be stored in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. They can also be dried for later use, but the flavor is much milder.