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Herbs

A little bit about herbs: Herbs prefer a sunny location so they can soak up the sun’s energy and flourish. A few herb varieties, namely parsley and mint, are tolerant of light or shade for small portions of the day but need at least 4 hours of sunlight each day. Herbs can be planted in a garden or flower bed for beauty and practicality. What are herbs used for outside of the kitchen? Herbs are used in bath, beauty and other personal products that can be found in fresh markets or can be made at home. For an example, potpourri provides a way to extend the beauty and fragrance of herbs and flowers.  

Basil ‘Genovese’ 

The Berry Farms Martha’s Herbs students have chosen this variety for its classic Italian sweetness, spicy flavor, and wonderful aroma. Genovese is an easy variety, grows large leaves, and maintains its strength through the heat of the summer. The fragrant plants grow 18-24 inches tall. This is the variety of choice for an Italian dish known as pesto. Basil leaves, along with parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and garlic cloves, pureed with lemon juice and olive oil, produce a delicious dip, sauce or pasta topping.  

Basil is an annual, a plant that grows, flowers, and dies in one season.  Basil gardeners are happy to soon learn that new seedlings sprout each year from fallen seed, providing the flavorful plants from year to year. It prefers warm temperatures and must be planted after the danger of frost has passed. Plants grown in shade will be spindly and weak. The flower blossoms should be removed as they appear on the plant. This helps to increase leaf production, the most flavorful and useful part of the plant. 

Cilantro  

The Berry Farms Martha’s Herbs students have chosen this herb that is found in Mexican and Chinese cuisine. Cilantro is not as easy to grow but is possible which it can grow around 7- 12 inches. The leaves of which are harvested from the immature plant before seeds are produced.  

An important thing to remember is that if the temperature of the roots gets above 75 degrees because if it does then the plant will send up a flower stalk. The plant should be about 6 inches tall before harvesting the outer leaves. Cilantro can live in an open window as long as it gets plenty of sunlight and a well-drained area.       

Mint ‘Mojito Cocktail’ 

Mint ‘Mojito Cocktail’ is a new plant to the Berry Farms Martha’s Herbs collection. This herb is one of those herbs that like moist soils. All mints prefer, and thrive in, cool, moist spots in partial shade. In general, mints tolerate a wide range of conditions.  

Almost any kind of soil and light levels are great for mint. The mint plant will become invasive when the roots are not kept in check and should be pruned regularly. The container may be too small for the growing plant. Be aware that the roots can grow through the bottom of the pot and send up new shoots. The leaves can be harvested whenever you wish during the growing season.  

Mint Mojito is an herb which can be used in a variety of ways. The obvious use is to make delicious mojitos. Other uses include spicing up your vegetables by putting mint in water used to steam vegetables. Make mint tea use 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried peppermint leaves per cup of boiling water steep for 10 minutes. Mint ice cubes, freeze whole mint leaves in ice cubes for tea or lemonade. Or spice up your tuna; chop spearmint and mix with olive oil and use as a marinade for fresh tuna. Marinate 30 minutes, grill. 

Oregano 

Oregano is a perennial herb which loves sunny locations. When one is planting this herb outside, a sunny place with good drainage would be ideal. The flowers should be removed as they form to encourage more vegetative growth. Leaves lose their flavor with prolonging cooking so for the best results pick the leaves then add them to the dish towards the end of the cooking time.   

Parsley 

Curled Parsley is normally used for decorating a plate and is not as flavorful as the flat-leaf variety, although it can be consumed. Flat-leaf Italian Parsley, which is grown by The Berry Farms Martha’s Herbs is the most flavorful of the parsley varieties, and can be mixed with other herbs because it balances out really well, especially with basil. Parsley is a biennial, meaning it flowers and produces seed in its second year. This second-year growth is stalky and tough, not as desirable for cooking. The seeds which fall will germinate readily the next spring, producing plenty of young tender leaves. Parsley enjoys a well-drained and sunny area for maximum growth. Harvest and use plants as they are thinned.    

Rosemary 

Rosemary is used with butter and salt to season boiled herb potatoes. Perennial with pungent needle-like leaves, Rosemary is a sun-loving evergreen shrub in North Georgia. It is also a great plant to use in landscaping. Harvest succulent tips, prune a stem or two, and remove all the leaves by running your thumb and forefinger from the tip to the base of the stem. Can be dried  to store for later use, and will last for many months.
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