Who doesn’t love using fresh herbs to elevate a simple dish? Shrimp and garlic with fresh parsley or a Margherita pizza with fresh basil; There are endless quick and easy recipes that involve bringing a dish alive just by adding fresh herbs. Now if you're anything like me, getting through the pre-bunched herbs you can purchase at the grocery store is not an easy feat before they turn mushy and need to go to the compost pile. Trust me, I have tried eating all the fish tacos and burrito bowls that one can handle and still managed to have browning cilantro in my fridge drawers by the end of the week.
Now I am not going to discredit the ease of dried herbs, they’re great for cooking but there is something blissful about growing fresh herbs in the summertime. A bonus is how readily available plants are at any garden center, grocery store, or local hardware store for an easy one-time purchase for months of gains for you and your tastebuds. Herbs are rather hardy and versatile plants to grow and a great way to level up your gardening skills!
Aside from easy access, growing your own herbs allows you to prune and use what you need as you need it and avoid being wasteful. Another benefit of growing herbs is how late they can grow into the season, according to your growing zone of course. In my garden, I can push growing and harvesting parsley and other herbs like basil, thyme, and mint into late September/early October before any frost hits.
Friendly Tip: If you are new to gardening and growing herbs, do not, I repeat DO NOT sow mint directly in your garden unless you are ready for it to slowly and surely take over. It has been known to be a garden bully. If you insist on directly sowing into a garden bed, you can prevent mint from taking over by planting it in a plastic container such as a basic nursery pot with good drainage and then plant the pot in the ground to contain the roots.
Keep your herbs well-watered to ensure a happy plant as well as regular pruning not only to enjoy with your cooking but when you prune your herbs you promote a bushier growth and longer life of the plant. This time of year you might see plants on sale at garden centers or grocery stores, its not too late to pick some up at a discounted price and pot them up as you would in the spring, as long as your herbs roots are healthy and they are getting good sunlight throughout the day (4-6 hours minimum) then they will be happy and continue to grow even as fall weather sneaks in, but be sure to bring your planter indoors or cover it up at risk of frost.
Adding fresh herbs to your cooking will never steer you wrong. It is a healthy and great way to add a punch of flavor to any dish – Below is a link to one of my favorite recipes of this delicious and easy to make margherita pizza. Remember all those tomatoes you’ve been growing this season? They will be great to use up in this recipe as well! I often opt out of making a homemade pizza dough and use a pre-made one to make my life easier, I find the necessary step is using in-season ingredients that make the dish taste so summery and fresh!
The next time you are at the grocery store or garden center, consider saving a basil or a parsley plant from the compost pile and bring it home to pot up. Take it indoors once it’s too cold outside and keep it somewhere sunny in your home to enjoy it through the fall and winter months for your cooking needs.