An Italian herb garden
Like living in the Mediterranean
It goes without saying that you want to use fresh herbs in your Italian food. You will notice a huge change if you are currently using dried herbs. By the way, I like dried oregano on pizza as much as anyone, but try fresh some time. In addition to increasing the taste of your foods, you will be able to eat fresh organically grown herbs. Once you get a garden with these herbs, you will think you are living in the Mediterranean.
I live in Florida so we are fortunate that we can grow herbs year round. If you live in higher latitudes, you may only be able to grow them during the summer months. Be careful trying to grow herbs in the house. Some need direct sunlight, and we have not had much success over the years. You will also find that using your herbs will keep the plants healthier than allowing the leaves to die.
Here are the herbs we try to grow: basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, Italian parsley, sage, chives, cilantro, dill, and a chocolate mint that can be used as a garnish on cakes. Sometimes we will also include spearmint and peppermint. You will find the first six are the really important herbs for Italian cooking. We also grow plum tomatoes from time to time.
Basil and dill are annuals (bloom one season and then die). Parsley is a biennial (lives two seasons and blooms once in its last season). Chives, mints, oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme are perennials (bloom every season once established).
Basil is sensitive to the cold so you have to be careful if you live in cold climes. Even here in Florida we cover basil and other herbs when it gets cold. We grow our basil in planters or in our garden. Basil needs full sun so make sure that it is placed away from shade. The soil pH should be between 5 and 7, does not need much water (don’t over water), and it is best to grow it from seeds. Basil also keeps mosquitoes and flies away You will need to remember to prune the flowers because once it flowers, the basil loses flavor. Pinching back the flowers will also increase the number of leaves. One other hint, you can grow basil next to tomatoes for example, because it can improve the flavor of neighboring plants.
It is best to grow parsley in full sun also. If you grow it from seed (recommended) some care needs to be taken. They are difficult to germinate. Before planting, soak the seeds in water for 2 days (change the water after one day) and refrigerate.
Oregano is an herb you should try to grow with a cutting from an existing plant. They sprout purple flowers which are delightful. But you should not pick oregano before it has flowered, because the flavor reaches its peak after the plant flowers. Oregano also needs direct sunlight and is sensitive to cold.
Rosemary is a fairly hardy plant that can grow into a shrub. But you never want to let it get any where near freezing temperatures. It puts out a pretty blue flower which some Italians use in salads. The flower is also great for attracting bees.
Thyme needs full sun so keep it away from shade, and try not to over water. You can clip thyme at any time. In Italy, the blossoms are frequently eaten in salads.
Whoa, whoa, get out the way with that good ifnoramtion.