Imagine how wonderful lit would be to have all the herbs you need for dinner growing just a few steps away from your kitchen. Feel like having pesto and angel hair pasta? You’ve got basil. Craving for a perfectly roasted chicken? All you need is rosemary.
Here are some tips on growing Italian herbs in your garden. Many are easy to grow and will flourish with very little maintenance.
Basil thrives in warm (or even hot) weather. It can be planted in pots or on the ground, preferably in a pH level of 5.5 to 7. It’s easier to plant seeds inside and then transfer them once they have grown to a few inches. Protect basil from slugs and snails. Prune it regularly to encourage growth and to make the leaves more flavorful.
Basil is a great ‘starter herb’ for beginner gardeners, but even those with flourishing vegetable gardens will love this plant. Some say that it can even enhance the flavor of any neighboring plants. It also acts as insect repellant since flies and mosquitoes hate its scent.
Fennel is a common ingredient in salads and Italian sausages. Some also use it for teas, which are thought to help the digestive system.
Fennel is a perennial plant, but it is best to replant after a few seasons because very mature plants generally have less flavor. You should plant the seeds where it can get a lot of sunlight. It thrives in very rich soil and needs only light watering. Some gardeners recommend planting it in an area that has a lot of wind, since that repels carrot rust flies (its biggest pest).
It takes a lot of patience to grow parsley. Seeds must be soaked for 48 hours (water changed halfway through) then refrigerated before hot water is poured over soil plug. The reason for this tedious preparation is that the herb has a chemical that tends to stunt germination.
Parsley is best planted directly into large pots because it is extremely hard to transfer it. Place the put in full sun or at least where it will get partial sun. If you are planting it in the soil, alongside other vegetables, it benefits from being near corn, tomatoes, or asparagus.
Instead of planting from a seed, try to get an oregano cutting from other farmers. You’ll get stronger flavors. To preserve that flavor even more, pick it only after its pretty purple flowers have opened. It thrives in hot weather and loves the sun, and can spread quite quickly over the soil (which is why some prefer to plant it in pots). Read our article on tips on growing herbs in pots.
Photo from restorationhardware.com