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Growing Herbs in Wexford

Growing Herbs! -THE HERB GARDEN

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Many of the plants we grow such as annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees are herbs in the true sense of the word. With increased interest in recent years in continental or gourmet cooking the word "herb" is nearly always thought of by home gardeners to mean the "culinary" herb.

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The herbs I have grown are listed below with instructions for growing them. Perhaps inexperienced gardeners as well as those who have not yet had the pleasure of growing these interesting plants will give some thought to starting a small herb garden. Even a small plot 4 by 6 feet will grow all a small family would need. If not grown for use in cooking, herbs are worth growing for pleasant aromatic foliage and some of them for the beauty of the flowers as well. Herbs can be used fresh for garnish in salads and to perk up the flavors of bland vegetables or to add flavor to meats and stews in which case one needs only to nip off a few leaves when wanted. If you Buy herb plants, then I always suggest you buy them from a nursery or garden centre. Super market herbs are grown intensively with many chemicals and the compost post if often not the best. We use food safe compost and little or no Chemicals.

To dry herbs for winter use cut off tops of the leafy varieties in midsummer and wash them off with cold water. Hang them up just long enough for the drops of water to evaporate, then tie the stems together and place in a paper bag with stem ends at the opening and close the bag with a rubber band. Use a paper clip as a hook through the band and place the other hooked end over your line where you are going to hang the herbs to dry, indoors. After 2 or 3 weeks remove from paper bags, crumble the leaves and place on a shallow pan and dry out in the oven with the setting at "warm" or at least not over 100 degrees.

Some herb enthusiasts dry them by spreading them out on trays or sheets of hardware cloth covered with cheese cloth and place in a dry area. To dry seed heads allow them to grow until seeds are mature and ready to drop from the plant.

Cut seed heads on a very dry day and spread on clean paper (not newspaper). It is better to keep them in the sun the first day as little insects, which may have been secreted in the heads, will leave as the seeds dry out. Store herbs in glass jars or other airtight containers in a cool place.

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