Herbal Gardening Tips

Tips from Chef Debbi’s presentation at The South Coast Plaza Garden Show

From Your Herbal Garden

Companion Planting

General Guideline for Growing Herbs

Most herbs like well-drained soil let slightly dry out except drought tolerant plants (lavender, rosemary) let those dry out a little bit more. Scratch down and inch or two in the pot and if it’s dry water.

Full Sun

Basil – Chives – Dill – Fennel – -Oregano – Rosemary – Tarragon – Thyme – Lemon Verbena

Partial Sun

Chervil – Cilantro (cool season herbs) – Lemon Balm – Mint

Pick before they flower or when they have buds on them

Never harvest more than 1/3 plant, it may not recover

Deadhead some; let others go to seed & flower to attract beneficial insects, butterflies & bees

Annual Herbs such as basil, cilantro, dill, nasturtium that grow and die in a year’s cycle.

Biennial Herbs such as sage and parsley will grow one year and bloom/set seed the next.

Perennial Herbs such as bay (which can be grown in a large container), tarragon, lavender, lemon balm, oregano can grow 3 years or longer.

Container Growing

Some larger herbs, rosemary for one, are better grown in the ground. Good for containers, Ca. bay, thyme, lemon balm (mint), parsley

Using a container, choose an appropriate size

Use an organic potting soil

Check for water needs frequently and fertilize with fish emulsion once a month

Herbs for Tea

Bee Balm, Bergamot, German Chamomile a 2’ annual, Mint

Fennel, leaves & seeds, Lemon Balm (mint family), Lemon Verbena, Mint, Rose Hips (seeds cases)

Pick leaves in the morning, when they have the most oil in the leaves/flowers

1 cup tea=1/4 cup of leaves and/or flowers, steep 5 minutes

Herbs for Potpourri

Lavender, lemon balm, rose, mint, thyme, calendula, bee balm, sweet woodruff

Cooking with Herbs

Keep herbs in a vase with fresh water; remove any leaves from the bottom of the stem that might be submerged. Do not wash until ready to use. Dry in a rolled up paper towel.

Herbs to Use With Food

Chicken: thyme, rosemary, parsley, tarragon

Pork: sage, rosemary, thyme

Fish: lemon verbena or lemon balm, chives, tarragon, dill, cilantro

Beef: rosemary, thyme, parsley

Lamb: rosemary, thyme, mint

Vegetables: thyme, oregano, lemon verbena

Add dried herbs at the beginning of preparing a dish, crush in the palm of your hand or in a mortar and pestle.

Fresh herbs should be added at the end of cooking.

If using fresh in place of dried use 1 – 2 times as many herbs as the recipe calls for

Herb Butters or Cheese

Drain plain yogurt overnight in cheesecloth

Mix with fresh chopped herbs for a cheese dip


Add chopped herbs to room temperature butter,

Roll up in plastic wrap into a cylinder, freeze and slice off a piece to add to fish, steak or chicken.

Herbal Vinegar

Flavor vinegar for use in cooking and in vinaigrettes.

Bruise one cup of leaves for every 2 cups of white wine or delicate vinegar. Allow to steep for two weeks.

Bath Salts

You can use your favorite essential oil or blend. Mix with Epsom salt, essential oil and a little food dye. Let the mixture dry, place in a jar or muslin bag.

Rosemary Lavender Soap Recipe

3          cups glycerin soap base*

1/4      cup infusion of lavender flowers and rosemary leaves

1 1/2   teaspoon, lavender oil

1/2      teaspoon rosemary oil

1          pulverized dried rosemary

Combine melted base and herbal ingredients, stir until blended, then pour into molds and cool.

* Craft Stores, Michaels


Lip Balm

1 Tb. + 1 tea. Beeswax, chopped

1 Tb. Shea Butter

3 Tb. Almond, Coconut or Olive Oil

15 drops organic essential oil

Melt everything together over low heat except essential oil. Remove from heat and stir in essential oil. Pour into tubes or tins and let cool.





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