Herbs are so incredibly rewarding! Whether using them to perfect a dish, wanting to attract pollinators, or simply wishing to enjoy their vibrant aromas, either way, herbs have so very much to offer, and ask for so very little in return.
Growing Herbs 101
When we think of herbs, images of plants in clay pots, baking away quite happily in the summer heat come to mind, accompanied by an almost Mediterranean feel. Most of our most beloved herbs do originate from the Mediterranean and as a result their optimal conditions are sunshine, heat and well- drained soils. These simple, unassuming plants are some of the easiest to care for, with many putting up with drought and summer heat quite effortlessly. Indeed, some are such good growers, that rather than worrying about their survival one might worry about their excessive growth. Mint and lemon balm are the most vigorous and are therefore best grown in a pot to keep them contained, or in an area that they can fill in.
The Many Uses of Herbs
There are varying definitions of herbs, but in general they tend to contain the following characteristics: aromatic, healing properties, culinary uses and volatile oils. Even as a mere gardener we have many options of what to do with our herbs; fresh use for cooking, later use when dry, making tea, use for aroma, essential oil making, or supporting pollinators. If growing herbs for kitchen-use keep pinching plants to keep them in a vegetative state and avoid any woodiness and blooms.
Herbs as Pollinator Plants
If allowed to flower, herbs are prolific bloomers, rewarding the gardener not only with a spectacle of color, but also providing an absolute haven for pollinators. If you wish to support butterflies or bees in your garden and are uncertain about which plants to grow, herbs are an easy solution. Certain butterflies use specific herb plants to lay their eggs; i.e. parsley is a host to Eastern Black Swallowtail, dill a host to Anise Swallowtail and fennel is a host to both butterflies.
Are Herbs Hardy?
Many herbs are grown as annuals, but there are some that are perennial and winter hardy in our Chicago climate, for those wanting something more permanent in their garden. Oregano, mint and thyme are some of the hardiest, whilst rosemary, lavender and sage are only semi-hardy. Some herbs will self-seed and return from seed each year (borage, chamomile, parsley) but be aware of some aggressive seeders like dill and fennel, and remove seed heads before these have a chance to ripen. For those wanting to prolong the life of tender herbs such as basil, try overwintering plants on a sunny windowsill indoors.
Our Pesche’s Guarantee
At Pesche’s we are proud to say that we grow most herbs ourselves, and source the rest locally. Our plants are never treated with synthetic pesticides and are 100% Non-GMO, allowing customers to shop with confidence. All plants are acclimated to local weather conditions and grown from high-grade seed.