April is the month to get started on your summer herb garden. With all the warm weather in 2017, it may even be a little late although my general rule of thumb is to plant them around April 15th. If nothing else, an herb garden alleviates any depression over income taxes and anticipates the joy of coming months full of fresh veggies, fruits and summer feasts and picnics.
Like many people living “inside the Perimeter,” I don’t have spacious and sunny places for an extensive herb garden. Thankfully, I have found that pots and container gardening are perfect for herbs. As long as you have a small area which gets plenty of sunlight for most of the day, you are in business for container garden herbs, which enhance almost any dish and are far, far cheaper than those you purchase by the bunch at grocery stores and farmers markets.
For beginners or those who don’t cook for multitudes on a daily or weekly basis, I can suggest my personal favorites. I love having fragrant rosemary, perfect in almost potato or beef dish, parsley, mint for some excellent mixed drinks as well as food and chives.
My all-time favorite herb, however, is basil. There are several varieties which I have tried over the years but find that two large pots of sweet basil cover most of my needs. Basil goes beautifully in any tomato based dish, sauce or soup. It is also the base for your homemade pesto. Shred it for a delicious breakfast toast, multi-grain bread is best, of tomatoes and sharp cheddar cheese heated to gooey perfection in a toaster oven. Toss it into pasta sauces, atop fresh salads, or in bruschetta.
I have found that large clay pots work best for herbs. They require more watering and a nice morning misting also helps. Use a good potting soil made for herbs/vegetables and snip off any flowers on the plants in late summer and the foliage [what you use anyway] remains lush for months. Potted herbs are really low maintenance for the most part and birds or squirrels usually leave them alone – although one year I had a pesky squirrel who feasted each morning off the lower leaves of my sweet basil. Maybe he was an Italian immigrant squirrel? Anyway, for such small plants and such easy work, your herbs will serve you well deep into the early months of fall.