Growing your own herbs is easy and very rewarding. Herbs are often suited to easy container growing and become fresh ingredients for all of your cooking.
Herbs are also incredibly nutritious and literal storehouses of vitamins and minerals, as well as disease-protecting flavonoids.
Additionally, each herb seems to have its purported medicinal qualities. Medicinal properties attributed to herbs are the stuff of folklore, but as we look at the research being done today, we find many of these attributes have begun to hold up to scientific analysis.
In the last decade, Basil Downy Mildew has made itself known on the east coast. This downy mildew is specific to Ocimum basilicum, which is the typical basil we all know and use for pesto and more. Unfortunately, we are now no longer able to grow regular basil without getting the downy mildew and will stop offering plants that are not resistant to it.
Because of ongoing research, there are now several Downy Mildew Resistant varieties. We have conducted trials and are growing two of the best for you this year. Alternate species include African Blue Basil (Ocimun kilimandscharicum x basilicum) and Thai Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum — not to be confused with the Ocimum basilicum variety of Thai Basil).
African blue basil grows equally well in sun or light shade. It requires a bare minimum of water. It is a perennial and will grace your garden for several years at least. You can use it make pesto, to sprinkle over roasted potatoes and to flavor drinks and salads. Fresh basil leaves are a slightly grayed green, speckled purple underneath. Purple buds open into delicious lavender flowers.
Considered a tender perennial, it probably won’t live through frost, but overwinters well if grown in a container indoors. And since it just likes to grow and grow, it benefits from as large a container as you can give it.
Rutgers Devotion (DMR – Downy Mildew Resistant). Authentic flavor and appearance. This Genovese-type basil is compact, but highly productive. Leaves are large, cupped, and medium green. Slightly sweet and spicy aroma. Allows for many harvests over growing season. Works well in a container or in the garden. Height: 12-14 inches. Rutgers developed and bred this basil using traditional breeding, including the crossbreeding of thousands of plants. This variety is not GMO. There’s no genetic engineering at all – just good old-fashioned creative plant breeding. We’re excited to offer it.
Rutgers Passion (DMR – Downy Mildew Resistant). From Rutgers University and Van Drunen Farms comes a vigorous sweet basil with high resistance to Downy Mildew. Passion has a large cupped leaf and is sweet, similar to ‘Genovese’. Very prolific and easy to grow. Well suited for potted plant and field production, plants have a high leaf-to-stem ratio, larger slightly cupped leaves, and are very slow to bolt. This variety is not GMO. There’s no genetic engineering at all – just good old-fashioned creative plant breeding. We’re excited to offer it.
Thai Holy Basil (also known as Holy Basil, Tulsi, or Ocimum sanctum) is a sacred Hindu basil with 1 1/2″ long green leaves and purple stems. According to Ayurvedic tradition, Holy Basil is one of the best herbs to prepare the heart and mind for spiritual practices, treat colds and flu, relieve various skin conditions, and reduce fever.
Holy basil is a common ingredient in Thai cuisine and in teas and is used medicinally for digestion and immune system support and is regarded as a purifying herb. Holy basil is a good basil to use in cooking as it holds up to heat. The flavor is spicy, almost clove-like with undertones of lemon.
The herbs below are either cold tolerant, or winter hardy in our climate.
Use for dill weed and grow for seeds. For the best dill in our area, grow in partial shade during our hot summers. But dill is not as difficult to grow in heat as cilantro is. For spring and fall growing, it is especially easy. If you like dill weed, you can cut it young and dry it, and plant more in August for fall and winter harvests. Allow your dill then grow back and flower and you will have tons and tons of dill seed for pickling, etc. Dill is a delightful herb with many culinary uses. Native to southern Europe, it is a staple in Greek cooking. It is common in Scandinavian and German food as well. Fresh or dried, dill leaves add a distinctive flavor to salads, fish, vegetable casseroles and soups.
Those who love it can’t do without it and those who abhor it can’t get far enough away! If you are of the former disposition when it comes to cilantro, this is the variety for you to grow in this region.
Excellent eating quality and lots of leaves on this variety and it is slow to bolt for cilantro. But all cilantro is going to go to seed in the summer–that is just the nature of this plant, set to go to seed when days are long and nights are short. Plan on multiple plantings knowing the most productive plants will be those planted early in the season and those planted again in August. Mid-summer plantings will be difficult–always. Provide partial shade for cilantro except for your fall planting. Let your plants flower and grow and you will not only provide an attractive plant for beneficial insects, but you can harvest your coriander seed from its spent flowers.
Hardy perennial. 1–2′ hollow grasslike leaves enhance any dish with their subtle onion flavor. Lilac-colored flowers bloom in June and July, can be eaten or enjoyed in arrangements fresh or dried. Chives are used in Asia as a remedy for colds and flu. For best production, grow in well-drained soil and divide clumps every few years. Nearly indestructible even with neglect in extreme conditions. I have found they do like shade during at least part of the day if you have it. They are not too fond of our summers.
A member of the mint family, with broad leaves and a pleasing lemony scent, lemon balm has a genial nature that can best be described as kind. Used since ancient times to calm the heart and the body, lemon balm with its delicate lemony flavor uplifts the spirit and any culinary dish it is added to. It has been used to sweeten jam, jellies, as an addition to salad, and as a flavoring for various fish and poultry dishes.
Genuinely Cuban, this spectacular culinary herb provides the distinct, aromatic and complex taste to the celebrated beverage. The aromatic leaves may be used fresh or dried in all kinds of dishes and drinks. The mint can be used in fruit salads as well as potpourri. The plants will reach 18 to 24 inches tall.
Like all mints it is easy to grow and will happily provide more than enough fresh sprigs for your mojitos. Salud!
There is much confusion concerning the difference between oregano and marjoram. To many, oregano is more of a flavor than any one individual plant. However, if you want to “true” oregano, Greek oregano is the one to plant. It grows to 20 inches, with purple flowers and spade-shaped, olive-green leaves. Most frequently used with roasted, fried or grilled vegetables, meat and fish. Oregano also combines well with spicy foods.
Very prolific and cold hardy. Stems are also very sweet, thick, solid, crunchy. Larger than many curly parsley varieties, this dense triple-curled medium-green parsley holds its color without developing spots. It can also stand the heat and give you plenty of parsley from spring into the fall and winter.
The nicest curly parsley I have grown, plants easily grow a foot tall, giving you large bunches for repeated cuttings. Remember that parsley is a biennial. That means it will overwinter before it goes to seed, although extremely hot weather can cause it to flower prematurely, but Krausa has some resistance to this tendency. One it does get through the winter, you may get another cutting from it, but then it will go to seed. You may save this seed as this is an open-pollinated variety.
This northern Italian heirloom grows 12-18″ tall (always on the taller side for me). Tall Gigante plants are vigorous growers and have very big, deep green shiny leaves with an exceptionally mellow and sweet fuller flavor than standard plain Parsley. You will find that curly parsley is hardier than flat parsley, so be sure to have some of both in your garden. In the middle of winter, you’ll almost always find a few sprigs of the curly variety waiting to be harvested. Enjoy your flat parsley before the coldest weather of the winter–although it should be fine through Christmas.
Berggarten means “mountain garden” and this sage is a special selection of common garden sage. The flavor of this common sage is excellent and the leaves are larger and more rounded. Berggarten also flowers less readily than regular common sage giving you more of an opportunity to harvest. Grows up to 3′, with fuzzy grey-green oblong leaves and blue flowers. Used fresh or dried. Tasty in stuffing blends, with eggs, cheese, poultry, pork. Sage leaves can be fried and are delicious as an appetizer or garnish for meat.
Sage tea dries up mothers’ milk and helps reduce hot flashes. Sage is used medicinally for many ailments, including brain health, women’s reproductive issues and digestive issues. Likes well-drained rich soil with good nitrogen content. Perennial sage plants grow woody with age; replace every 3 years or so. Sage is also very hardy and will easily survive the worst of our Delaware winters.
A favorite for cooking. This savory herb is a versatile seasoning for soups, chicken, seafood, vegetables, and sauces. Leaves are easy to use since they are small enough you don’t need to cut them. The flowers of the thyme plant are very attractive to butterflies and bees and the plant will bloom in early summer. Really enhances meat, cheese and egg dishes. Thyme is a hardy perennial.