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Saturday, July 11, 2009
Tags:   Gardens, home, florida, Victory Garden, Victory Gardens, fort lauderdale, real estate, beach

In the spirit of full disclosure, we'll start by admitting that we're writing about herbs just to give us an excuse to show you this great poster. 

It was created in 1918 by James Montgomery Flagg, a professional graphic artist (they called them "illustrators" back then), who volunteered his time and talent during WWI.  Mr. Flagg created many other posters, cards and such, including the famous Uncle Sam, "I Want You" poster.  (If you're interested, you can learn more about all of this at http://www.nationalheritagemuseum.org/.)

Now, about those herbs...

If you have been thinking lately about creating your own "Victory Garden", or maybe even just keeping those herbs you occasionally buy at the grocery store thriving for more than a week or two, then you will love the article just sent to us by rismedia.com (see below).  Feel free to pass this along to anyone else who might enjoy it as well!

RISMEDIA, July 7, 2009-(MCT)-Chefs know it. The Food Network preaches it. Amateur cooks admit it: Freshly picked herbs are more delicious than anything you’ll find on a spice rack.

So why not try growing your own herb garden?

Many herbs can be maintained throughout the summer with minimal effort. And according to Michigan State University Extension horticulture educator Mary Wilson, the payoffs go beyond your pocketbook.

“It’s fun,” Wilson said. “You can go right out and harvest them, so you don’t have to go to a grocery store when you need something.”

Here’s a crash course.

1. Decide where to plant. “Incorporate herbs into a vegetable garden,” Wilson said, “or put them in with your flowers, and you can almost have an edible landscape.” Pick a well-drained area where water doesn’t pool.

The most forgiving route is to use containers. Wilson recommends any well-draining container (make sure it has holes on the bottom) that is safe for growing food. You can use small pots for individual herbs, or plant several together in a 16- to 18-inch container. Even a window box works.

2. Consider the sunlight. Herbs like a good deal of sun.

3. Pick your herbs based on what you use. Keep in mind which are perennials and which are annuals. Perennials include chives, marjoram, mint, and thyme. Parsley is biennial, meaning it comes back the second year with blooms. Wilson cautions that some perennials, such as rosemary, sometimes don’t make it through the winter.

4. Start with seeds or pick up plants at a farmers market. Search around, and you can find chocolate or lemon thyme, spearmint, cinnamon or Thai basil.

5. If using containers, plant in potting soil. And skip the fertilizer; it can dim the taste, Wilson said.

6. Don’t pick too much at once. Leave enough of leaves to keep the growth process going.

7. Weed and water. Don’t over-water. Containers dry out faster than the ground and will likely need daily watering during the hot months. For in-ground plots, water if it has rained less than 1 inch in the last week. No matter what, don’t be neglectful.

“Especially for containers, the biggest challenge will be to make sure people keep them watered,” Wilson said.

8. Beginners should start small. “When it gets to the maintenance part and the summer gets longer, people give up. They need to start small, have some success and start with plants you know you’ll use.”

And then … use them!

- Put a sprig of rosemary on a chicken breast as it grills.
- Snip some basil onto vegetables as they cook.
- Gather some fresh herbs and give someone a cheap but thoughtful gift.
- And watch your grocery savings accumulate.

©2009, Detroit Free Press.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

 


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