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Trendy Outdoor Herb Gardens

Posted on 24 January 2011

by Janine Buchal for the Landscape Network

These days, cooking with fresh herbs is not only trendy; it is cool. Having your own herb garden within a few feet of your back door is rather essential. I must admit, it is rather impressive as it allows for easy access and spontaneity in preparing a meal including fresh thyme, rosemary or parsley, for example.

Chefs like Jamie Oliver, Emeril Lagasse and The Barefoot Contessa utilize these fragrant gardens not only in cooking but also for their visual appeal.  Often adding rosemary to grilled meats, sage to pasta sauce or salad and thyme to butter sauces or braised chicken.  Visually, there is nothing quite like a stroll amongst a blooming herb garden, snipping chives for a soup and creating uses for these delectable herbs. Lavender is often used to bring a sweet scent and a touch of color and can be utilized in making potpourri or soap. Lavender flavored jams and butters are possible ideas as well.

Truly unbelievable favor and color are attainable with fresh herbs.

Even certain wines come alive with a hint of mint or sage with an accompanying appetizer; or try a Viognier with a sage or rosemary seasoned grilled salmon.      Herbs add some distinctive taste to cheeses as well. Sage has become quite popular in havarti, for example, and rosemary in brie. Again, these make great pairings with Chardonnay or even a light Pinot Noir.

For recipes, the rule of thumb is one Tablespoon fresh to one Teaspoon dried.  Save money cooking with fresh grown herbs and add more potent flavor and satiety to your meals. Once fall hits, I take my remaining outdoor fresh herbs and dry them for winter use in little glass jars.

Some additional herbs to consider include:

Lemon thyme, rosemary, garlic, cardamom, tarragon or basil.  Cilantro when gone to seed becomes cardamom, nice in Indian dishes especially when lightly roasted or fresh in a spicy tea.

Ask for advice at a local garden center for spacing, fertilizing and soil drainage options.  Starting out with six herbs or less in your garden is a simple beginning.  You are less likely to become overwhelmed with their care and maintenance or get herbs that crowd out each other while growing.  Packed with extraordinary flavor and healthful benefits, herbs are simply delightful additions to any meal whether fresh or dried.
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