Monday, May 19, 2014

Herb Gardens 101

So I may or may not have mentioned I have a brown thumb for most indoor plants and a slowly evolving green thumb for outdoor plants. Growing up, I was always involved with watering plants, cutting the grass (25 bucks a cut-now it costs me time or money, darn adulthood), family weeding days, pruning, and anything else my parents convinced me to do. But now that I have my own green babies, I have become more aware of the excessive time and care they all need. Especially with a very cold and harsh winter, not all of our plants flourished this spring so this past weekend was filled with garden center visits, tedious pruning, a lot of dirt, and one sunbathing beagle (she was NO help surprisingly).

These weekend projects are the kind of outdoor chores I like because with a little hard work and quality time spent with my husband, we received some quick gratification. But my favorite part of this garden party was planting our herb garden. I am not a fan of all cooking spices so creating an herb garden hand selected for my simple palate was pretty exciting. This is my second year planting an herb garden, and I purchased all my beautiful herbs from Dundee Gardens in Hanover Township, PA. This home-grown family business has been opened for over 50 years and for me has been more than just a quick place to stop for a few plants. Grab a cup of coffee before you go and give yourself plenty of time to explore this haven for gardeners, grillers, home decorators, Vera Bradley lovers, outdoor diners, and those who are all of the above. 

I get a little distracted when I visit because my excitement and energy pulls me from the awesome and plentiful herbs, veggie plants, and so many vibrantly colored flowers to the outdoor patio furniture and to the home decor. I am easily able to find what herbs I want and even more than I never would have thought of on my own. I think my husband found over four different types of tomato plants and plenty of peppers to keep us grilling for the entire summer. We purchased our first few honey suckle plants to grow up over our arbor, and we have our eyes on a new Weber grill. I snuck over to the home section when my husband wasn't looking and within five minutes found all the items I needed to create my very own bar tray at home. If I had a little more time I know I would have brought home a few candles, the Eiffel Tower bottle opener, and a few decorative pillows (I'll go back, don't worry). Dundee Gardens emits a sense of warmth and comfort and if you take a closer look you can see a family store that is like a flower or plant, nourished and cared for with such love and dedication it now flourishes and has blossomed into more than a store, but a destination worth the journey to get there. 

My Herb Choices:

  • Oregano: My favorite spice, pair it with steamed veggies, pasta, or my favorite, pizza
  • Parsley: I use a lot for soups and fish dinners

  • Sage: I use this a lot for a vegetable bake with potatoes, squash, and beets with a little bit of olive oil and butter (and maybe a piece of bread or two)
  • Thyme: This is a great herb to make marinades or even salad dressings
  • Basil: Great for pasta dishes or for one of my favorite appetizers of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil
  • Cilantro: One word, guacamole
  • Mint: Just used this to make a delicious watermelon salad and will be adding to fresh iced tea or lemonade or as a garnish for my Maiolatesi's sweet mint tea wine

I randomly placed the herbs in order of what visually pleased me, grabbed the markers I bought last year for an Easter brunch at Michaels, and voila! Now let's just hope a few weeks from now they are all still green. 

Happy Gardening!


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