The home herb garden is a notable expansion to a vegetable garden, or just a sizable accomplishment in the realm of self-sufficiency altogether. Herbs are remarkably flexible and have a number of diverse uses. They are perfect plucked fresh from the home herb garden and used in your favorite recipes. Of course, they are often dehydrated and stored for seasoning at a later date too. And certain herbs can be readily used as natural air fresheners.
Learning the basics of harvesting will be key to your home herb garden success. It’s important to learn the ideal time for picking. Herbs are sensitive to wind and heat, as this affects how the plants distribute their essential oils. Believe it or not, you’ll be better off harvesting herbs on still days when there is lower humidity. You can sneak in after the dew has evaporated and right before the flowers open.
You’ll have some options when harvesting from your home herb garden. You can take just what you need for a particular recipe, and always use it fresh. Yet, you might also want to get some extra while you’re out there, especially since they can be so readily dried and stored for later. If you go that route, it’s just important not to take more than about one-third of the plant at any given time, since this can stunt its growth. You need to leave enough behind for the plant to grow back and thrive.
As for loading up on extra now so you’ll have it later, there are three good ways to preserve the herbs you get from your home herb garden. First, of course, you can dry them. People like to string them together. Just clear the foliage that might be near the bottom of the stems. After you’ve bundled them, hang them out of the direct sun in some cool and dry place. Depending on the herbs you are preserving, another option is to put the individual leaves on a drying rack. You’d just want to turn them several times so they dry evenly. People have also used dehydrators or even the microwave, but air drying is best.
After drying, most folks like freezing the proceeds of your home herb garden. This is a simple approach. You can cut the herbs in small pieces and lay them on a cookie sheet. You line it with wax paper first, however. Freeze them all. Once done, they can go in a storage bag for convenient later use.
A less popular, though equally viable, option for preserving herbs is through a medium. In this case you’re taking the items from your home herb garden that are appropriate for being put in salt or vinegar. Examples would be mint, tarragon, or basil. With salt, you just layer the herbs and alternate with layers of salt. After they are dried, you just remove them from the salt and save in a Ziploc bag.
Still, if you are a fan of grabbing goodies from your home herb garden for immediate use, there’s nothing like that freshness. They can be easily cleaned by putting them in a bowl of cool water. You can always use the sink too if you have a lot. A little bit of salt is useful to get out tiny bugs that might be hiding!
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