Each of these herbs have a distinct flavor and texture. If space in the garden is limited, they can be grown in planters. They require at least four hour of sunlight each day, and evenly moist soil. I suggest you begin with the 4 inch starter herb plants from a garden center or nursery. Seeds will take awhile, and you’ll want the herbs at a mature stage when fresh tomatoes are ripe.
Dill – Anethum graveolens. Usually 2 or 3 plants is more than enough for summer salads. And what are fresh cucumbers without fresh dill? Pick leaves regularly to encourage lush growth. Pinch back the feathery tops weekly, unless you’re growing dill for seeds. Dill pairs well with seafood and makes an excellent marinade. Dill is of course a key ingredient in homemade dill pickles.
Arugula – Eruca vesicaria. The young leaves have a mild, peppery taste. For best flavor pick the leaves when they are no more than 3 or 4 inches tall. Harvest the outer leaves of arugula and the inner leaves will continue to grow for an extended harvest. Chop leaves and add to the salad bowl just before serving.
French Tarragon – Artemisia dracunculus. Plant French (not Russian) tarragon if you want the licorice flavor. Buy young plants and space them close together. Although French tarragon is considered a perennial, more than likely it will go to seed and not produce beyond one growing season. Harvest the fresh leaves, and if you have an abundance of tarragon, dry some of the leaves for cooking.
Chives – Allium schoenoprasum. Chives add a mild, delicate onion flavor to salads. Use the fresh, hollow stems, finely chopped. Cut the stems above soil level and keep the chive plants well watered so they will send up new shoots.
Chervil – Anthriscus cerefolium. This is the sweetest herb around for adding a delicate hint of freshness for hearty summer salads. The flavor is a cross between licorice and parsley. Keep it well watered, prune the tops out and let the side shoots continue to grow all summer. Chop a few leaves of chervil and sprinkle them over iceberg lettuce, fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, then drizzle with a little olive oil. Superb salad !
Curly Parsley – Petroselinum crispum. This herb is perfect for growing in containers. It requires moist soil and a little plant food from time to time. It will reward you with an abundance of crisp, green leaves. Chop parsley and sprinkle on salads.
Sorrel – Rumex acetosa. Sorrel is a tangy, citrus flavored, leafy herb plant. Pick small leaves from the outer edges of the plants for an extended harvest. If you can’t find the plants, just sow the seeds. It will produce about the time the dill has ceased production.
Sweet Italian Basil and Rosemary can also be added to summer salads. Add sparingly to the salad bowl, a leaf or sprig is all you’ll need. The same for oregano and thyme.
One of my favorite salads is a mix of Bibb lettuce, cherry tomatoes, black olives and a pinch of finely diced sweet basil. Toss in a few cubes of mozzarella cheese. Now that’s a salad!
Happy Mother’s Day to all our subscribers!
Blessed be, sweet ones
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