Herbs, Herbs, More Herbs!

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What can be done with herbs, other than using them for cooking; “well, lots” say local Master Gardeners.

On November 8, 2014 the Master Gardeners of Sampson County held an herb workshop at the County Cooperative Extension Building in Clinton. Their topics included: how to grow, harvest and store herbs. There were tips on how to use herbs to improve your health, make potpourri sachets, use in decorating and making body mists. A variety of prepared food dishes for tasting, demonstrated how to use herbs to flavor foods and decrease the amount of sodium in your diet.

Herbs are easy to grow and the most important thing is to start with good soil. If you grow herbs in the garden, be sure to get a soil test and use plenty of compost to amend the soil. If you grow yours in containers, buy a good soil mix — one that is more then pine bark and sand. Don’t be afraid to buy more then one kind and see which one works the best for you.

Among the most well-known and used herbs are chives, basil, garlic and rosemary. They are easy to grow and can be used in a number of recipes to enhance the taste without adding salt. Once you use fresh herbs out of the garden, you will not be buying herbs in the store again.

The Master Gardeners noted some known and some less known use for the different herbs that can be grown in our region. Chives are a favorite on baked potatoes, scrambled eggs or sautéed with olive oil in the place of onions. Basil is great with any tomato dish or in a pesto with garlic and olive oil. Garlic grown in your garden will be so much better then the little bulbs you buy in the store. Cut the cloves in half and roast with olive oil on a baking sheet and then spread it on some fresh baked hard crusted bread. Rosemary baked chicken is a familiar favorite, but it can also be used with mash potatoes, eggs, soups and peach or strawberry deserts. It’s limbs add fragrance to floral arrangements and the plant often appears in stores shaped as a small Christmas tree. Buy one of these rosemary plants for decoration this holiday season and afterwards plant it outdoors to start a herb garden or add to an existing one. Also, these plants will be a welcome gift for a cook or gardener on your holiday list.

Eat Well Feel Well!