Herbal Gardening - Common Herbs: Chives, Peppermint, Parsley

Three popular herbs which either smell great or make our recipes better.

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Those who try it find that creating an herb garden is both fun and practical. The aromas are wonderful, the view is beautiful, and many popular herbs can be used as medicines or for cooking, and growing most of them is easy. They're hardy and thrive well in all kinds of soils. But for the best results, it's helpful to keep in mind a few facts about each specific one.

In these three herbs we have ones that smell great and make for an essential addition to any chef's toolkit.

CHIVES

Growing up to a foot, chives can seem a bit like little soldiers all lined up in a row, or can wind up as a chaotic bunch of radicals. Either way, these beautiful green stalks with their violet-colored flowers are a delightful sight in the garden. A member of the onion family, they are a popular representative of the culinary herbs and make for a terrific addition to dozens of recipes.

Once dried and chopped, the leaves will be delicious in omelettes, fresh salads, and tomato soup. The flowers can also be used for making potpourri where they add a spicy scent.

To start Chives, you can either plant seeds or develop them from bulbs. Perennials, they'll come back strong year after year, as they winter over well. They take little care on your part, though you may want to divide the plants every couple of years to avoid overcrowding.

PEPPERMINT

Another perennial, these delightfully fragrant herbs can grow up to two feet high or more. One of the aromatic herbs, the scent of peppermint is familiar from Christmas candy, but the plant is a delight in nature as well. Their tiny purple flowers are as beautiful as the leaves are aromatic.

They've been used in cooking and natural medicines for centuries and they make for a useful addition to everything from chewing gum to soap. As a scenting agent for eau de toilette water they're divine. As a spicy addition to tea, they're superb.

They should be grown in soil that is kept moist and you'll need to trim them fairly often. They can grow in either sun or shade, but a mixture is best. You may have to renew the beds every few years. All the extra effort will be well worth the reward, though.

PARSLEY

Another of the culinary herbs, and indispensable in the kitchen, these herbs are easy to grow and maintain. A biennial plant, they will blossom every two years and they do well in either containers or in gardens. They sprout into dense mounds, but may reach as high as a foot if kept spaced eight inches or more. One type has mossy leaves (P. crispum), another a flat leaf (P. neapolitanum) also known as Italian, but either is great for cooking.


Parsley can be started from seed, but in that case they should be planted indoors before winter ends and allowed to develop at room temperature for a few weeks. They love full sun, but can thrive in partial shade as well.

The use of Parsley in cooking is well known and every chef will have his or her favorite way of using them in soups, salads and casseroles. Just dry the leaves in air and crumble according to your favorite recipe.


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Herbal Gardening - Chives, Peppermint, Parsley

Page Updated 6:42 PM Monday 8/25/2014