Herbs? What are they? It is summer everywhere and hot, and humid and who knows what else. Here in Florida it is hot, hot, hot. People ask me all the time – do you grow herbs, and how do you know which ones are good to grow in this heat? If you have ever grown your own food you probably know a little about herbs. Then there are folks who grow nothing but herbs. So what are they – HERBS?
Herbal plants enrich our lives with their flavor, fragrances and beauty. If you grow them, you know that some of them thrive better in warm weather than cold weather – that is unless you grow them indoors. I have yet to grow herbs in the direct sunlight as is suggested for some herbs. I know if I put my basil in the sun it would be dead in a minute. I find it strange that the instructions that come with the plants even say to “plant in full sun” or even “partial sun”. Yes, Florida is sunny and yes, Florida is hot, but I never plant my herbs in the sun. I have a shady spot on the south side of my home where they love to grow. As well, I plant them in pots and not directly in the soil because I find they don’t grow as well in the sandy soil we have here. I like parsley, basil and chives, because I use them in cooking and in salads. They seem to be hearty and grow beautifully. I am an experimental gardener and grow what I know works for me….so I do not usually recommend to anyone on how to grow anything, whether it be food or herbs. However, I thought I would check out herbs because so many folks ask me about them. Here is a short rundown on a few herbs that most folks are familiar with.
BASIL – There are many herb varieties. Basil, in my mind is the #1 Herb in popularity. It is heat tolerant, and there are many types, green leaf, purple-leafed (Red Rubin and African Blue). Green leafed that you can buy in the produce department of the grocery store is usually used in salads, stews, soups, pastas, etc. Purple is beautiful and really fragrant. The flowering tops of both are useable so don’t toss them in the garbage. African blue is a beneficial nectar plant for bees and other pollinators. Basil can grow over 3 feet tall.
ROSEMARY – is one herb that I have never grown, but is very prolific, and easy to grow. It is basically a perennial and grows well in the southern U.S. It is pleasing to look at and great as a food seasoning. It is decorative in the garden.
THYME – is one of the top herbs used for cooking. It doesn’t like too much water when growing and especially rain. An over abundance of water can lead to mildew and leaf blight. It is great in vegetable dishes, squash, on tomatoes, etc. and in chicken dishes.
OREGANO – is a very mediterranean herb. It is used in Greek and Italian dishes, sauces and with meat. It grows well in a herb garden lasting through the winter in the south. There are many varieties, African, Cuban, etc. It is another herb that I have seen sold in the produce department of grocery stores.
Florida is a great part of the U.S. to grow herbs – to mention a few more such as Cilantro, Coriander, Lemon grass, etc. which many of you may not be familiar with can be grown in containers and is edible as well as ornamental. It enjoys a sunny and moist environment. Try planting it next to an air conditioner drain or a downspout.
When planted outside in hot weather, herbs need watering. Herbs, like many vegetables, do better if watered at the base and not sprinkled from the top. Grow herbs in pots with large drainage holes. DO NOT let the pot dry out.
There are many, many herbs. You can find books of the many varieties to include: Aloe, Sage, Cayenne, Comfrey, Garlic, Lavender, etc. The oil is extracted out of many herbs and used in salves, teas, as fragrances, capsules and tinctures (such as the ones sold at http://www.fyihealthtalkstore.com where a description and the use of every herbal remedy is given for each product). Herbs have been used by many cultures as alternative remedies for various health issues to include: Acne, anxiety, arthritis, cysts, bronchitis, burns, bruises, chronic fatigue, colds and flu, diabetes, diverticulitis, eczema, eyestrain, fungal skin infections, gallstones, headaches, high blood pressure, intestinal parasites, kidney stones, liver disease, MS, nerve pain, shingles, prostate, stress, stroke, and even warts.
I have addressed a few of the edible herbs, the ones used the most and the ones that “beat the heat” so to speak as far as growing in warm or hot weather, such as Florida, Texas and most of the southern US.
I could write a book, but I won’t – as there are so many books out there already. If you are like me – too much is more than I like to deal with. I prefer to keep it simple and non time consuming….so this is a short blog on the generalities of Herbs.
Life is Good. God Bless!!