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Friday, January 29, 2010

Using Home-Grown Herbs Adds Big Flavor For Little Money

Last week I made several onion quiches for a couple of open houses at listings, and for a party. The filling was really simple:  onions, a little olive oil, eggs, salt, pepper, and a bit of finely grated locatelli cheese. But what really added flavor were the herbs I used - fresh parsley and rosemary and some dried tarragon, thyme and sage. The parsley was straight from the grocery store, but I plucked the rosemary from the sorry-looking plant pictured here. The other herbs I picked fresh in the fall and dried in paper bags before putting them in jars for storage.

Most herbs are very easy to grow, take up very little space, will grow happily in pots and cost next to nothing if you start them from seed. Even if you buy small herb plants, the cost is low.

Many herbs are perennial - they come back year after year. Thyme, marjoram, sage, tarragon, oregano and mint are reliably perennial almost everywhere. In warmer parts of the country, rosemary, which I've grown from cuttings, gets as big as an azalea in my father's southern California garden, while I struggle to keep my rosemary alive in the sunroom when it's cold outside her in southeastern PA.

Cilantro, dill and parsley are typically grown each year from seeds, though technically parsley is a biannual. That means it will come back a second year to set seeds. But the leaves taste best in the first year, so I treat it as an annual.

As my gardening group plans and plants our garden in the weeks to come, I'll be reporting on what we're doing. In the meantime, I hope you'll share some of the ways you use herbs to "spice" up your meals.


  1. I'm wanting to have a greener thumb. I'm excited to see what you are doing to plan and plant your garden. I'm clueless...or close to it.

  2. Amber - I'll be posting a lot about gardening in the weeks to come. I hope you'll stop by often to check it. In the meantime, if you have a specific question, feel free to email me at