Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How Does My Garden Grow?

Parsley, sage, basil and mint...the rosemary and thyme are on the other side.

In a box, on a balcony, on the back of a building, in the middle of a big city. And if I can grow pretty and tasty herbs in these decidedly unpastoral conditions with my brown thumb, then you can definitely grow them, wherever you are. I have two window boxes- one contains sage, chives, mint, basil, and parsley, and the other houses cilantro, rosemary, thyme and oregano, and I pluck leaves from one or the other nightly to enhance our dinners. I love fresh herbs, and passionately dislike dried herbs- mostly because they are so blatantly inferior to their more verdant incarnations. Planting a window box of herbs is more economical and green than buying them in plastic clamshells at the supermarket, and even if you don't cook with them, they look beautiful and smell fantastic. I bought some of my herbs in little pots (available at any home improvement store or garden center), and grew some of them from seeds. It's really gratifying to see my little seedlings thriving, but it took over a month for them to become fully grown, so if you start them now, summer will practically be over before you're eating them.

Here are some of the best fresh herbs to plant, and how to cook with them:
Sage: Delicious with poultry or red meat, or sauteed with butter as a simple pasta sauce.
Chives: A member of the onion family, chives are great with fish, potatoes or soup (try making chilled vichyssoise to really let them shine).
Mint: Delicious with lamb or as a tea. Or, use it to mix up a mojito or a julep and forget about the cooking altogether.
Basil:What doesn't taste better with basil? Fish, salads, meat... anything Italian.
Parsley: I have waxed poetic about my love of parsley before on this blog. It's fresh, peppery taste makes everything tastier.
Cilantro (a.k.a. coriander): A staple of Mexican cuisine- great in guacamole and salsas of all kinds.
Rosemary: Perfect with Mediterranean cuisine- potatoes, fish, lamb, olives... you name it.
Thyme: an essential element of "bouquet garni" in French cooking, thyme enhances the natural flavors of soups and stews, and mixes well with tomatoes and eggs.
Oregano: One of the grossest dried herbs in my opinion, oregano shines when it is fresh. Delicious in tomato sauces, and with all kinds of vegetables.

Simon and Garfunkel would be proud.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Would you mind including details on how you made the box & hung it up? I've been wanting to do this exact same thing, but it seems super daunting, although it may be as easy as finding a cute Home Improvement store Rep and batting my eyes...Either way, some details on your approach would be greatly appreciated!