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Raising herbs

Herbs can be a fun way to connect gardening with cooking particularly with children. My daughter recently became very interested in herb gardening from seed after her science teacher introduced to her class how to raise herbs from seed. I think at this point it is more a matter of how does this grow rather than what do I do with it once it does grow.

Herbs can be a bit tricky to raise from seed. A few are very easy to raise such as dill or parsley. These two herbs in particular are fun to raise even if you are not interested in the herb as much as the interest they raise in the garden because of the butterflies that come to lay their eggs on them for a food source. If you wish to try to coax Black Swallowtail butterflies to your garden, dill and parsley is for you.

Raising herbs is probably one of the oldest forms of gardening that there is. In the past, we raised herbs for medicine and some are still used for that same purpose today. However, most are being use for cooking only. A good resource for gardeners to learn more is the U of M Extension website along with the Herb Society of America, which can be found at https://www.herbsociety.org.

The Herb Societies herb of the month of May is Pineapple Mint. The plant alone is quite beautiful with green leaves that have white edges. I can only imagine what the fragrance of this plant must be like. They have a wonderful beginning guide that is online that explains how to get started growing and using herbs.

They also have an area to help get children started in growing and using herbs. There are quite a few that can be used in many different kinds of planted areas besides the vegetable garden. Most herbs that kids might find interesting are those that have a big fragrance if brushed up against when working in the garden. These may include Lemon Balm, Lavender, Nasturtiums, Sage, Lemon Verbena, and mints (of course).

Most herbs that we can raise in Minnesota are raised as annuals. We have to replant them every year. Lavender can be raised in Minnesota but it needs to be planted in a very secluded area in order for it to survive so generally, most gardeners will raise something similar in the mint family instead.

There are other plants that are often not thought about being in the class of “herbs” and some of these would include such plants as raspberries, some native shrubs and even some plants that we would normally see as a perennial (Lamb’s Ears) or a native (Solidago, also known as various species of Goldenrod).

Herbs are another way to do something different in the garden. Whether you mix them in various places in your perennial garden to whether you make a fancier knott garden, there are all different ways that herbs can help make a garden complete. If trying herbs for the first time, starting out with some of the tried but true herbs may be best: oregano and basil are easy to grow from either plants or seeds. They can go into pizza sauces or spaghetti sauces. Try them fresh in your favorite pesto for a great summer time treat!

For more information on gardening, you can reach me at s.dejaeghere@me.com

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