‘Tis the season to fire up the grill. Harvesting homegrown herbs is an economical, nutritious and delicious way to season meats and veggies all summer long. With Memorial Day just around the corner, the botanical experts at Pike Nurseries are sharing a few favorites plus some simple growing tips to ensure a bountiful backyard herb garden,
The pros recommend finding a sunny spot to plant that gets full or afternoon sun. If sun is a challenge, consider planting in moveable containers or bright beds amongst other flowers or veggies. Planting in an amended, nutrient-rich soil is also key for herbs to thrive and establish healthy root systems. If planting in the ground, amend native soil with a 50/50 ratio with Pike Vegetable and Flower Mix. If in a container, use a high-quality potting mix such as Pike Potting and Container Soil. Be sure to water herbs thoroughly right after planting and continue to water on a consistent schedule once established, keeping the soil cool and slightly damp to the touch. Growing herbs is a simple way for beginner gardeners to start playing in the dirt.
Basil: One of the most popular herbs, basil can easily be planted in a pot with tomatoes or peppers for a “pizza garden” that kids will enjoy. A perennial, it likes consistent moisture and thrives when leaves are harvested to eat in caprese salads, pizza or spaghetti.
Thyme: Another popular perennial, thyme is a spreading plant and vigorous grower that needs little water and attracts pollinators – thanks to its small purple or pink blooms. The pros recommend planting thyme around stepping stones or spilling out of containers, giving it one to two feet to spread. This fragrant herb adds great flavor to chicken, potatoes or veggies when roasted, marinated or grilled.
Sage: Sage is hardy with a long growing season and can tolerate partial sun if full sun isn’t available. Typically boasting a pine-like aroma, sage conjures up thoughts of Thanksgiving and comes in several different varieties, including the peppery purple sage and sweet-smelling pineapple sage.
Rosemary: This classic herb originates from the Mediterranean and therefore prefers dry soil. Be careful not to overwater, as it can be susceptible to mildew if the soil is too wet or not well-drained. An evergreen herb, rosemary can be used year-round, from holiday tablescapes to meat skewers on the grill in the summer.
Lavender: Similar to rosemary, lavender likes a very dry, well-drained soil and can even be planted together with its aforementioned counterpart. The fragrant, purple flower stalks it produces are great when used in potpourri or even in sorbet or cookies.
Mint: A refreshing herb used in cocktails, tea and lemonade, mint is a perennial that can tolerate partial sun and light shade. It is a vigorous grower, so be sure to grow it in a container by itself to ensure it won’t overtake other plants. Mint also has several varieties, such as spearmint and peppermint, that vary in levels of menthol.
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Pike Nurseries has locations in Matthews (1016 Devore Lane) and Ballantyne (12630 N. Community House Road) Visit www.pikenursery.com for details.