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Published April 07, 2010, 08:25 AM

Grow herbs at home or in garden

Add a touch of spring to your home all year long. Consider growing some herbs in your home, a container or garden outside. Growing herbs can be a fun project for kids and may encourage them to try some different foods, too. Soon you’ll be adding extra flavor to your recipes without extra calories or sodium. Compared with the cost of fresh herbs available in some grocery stores, you will have a ready supply at a fraction of the cost. Which herbs should I choose?

By: Luella Morehouse, NDSU Extension Service, The Jamestown Sun

Add a touch of spring to your home all year long. Consider growing some herbs in your home, a container or garden outside. Growing herbs can be a fun project for kids and may encourage them to try some different foods, too.

Soon you’ll be adding extra flavor to your recipes without extra calories or sodium. Compared with the cost of fresh herbs available in some grocery stores, you will have a ready supply at a fraction of the cost.

Which herbs should I choose?

Many herbs used in cooking, including basil, chives, parsley, mint and oregano, grow well indoors.

What do I need for an indoor herb garden?

* A sunny window sill with exposure to about five hours of light per day is ideal. Herbs also will grow if they get 10 hours of fluorescent lighting daily. Use a warm and cool bulb in your grow light. To grow herbs you will need the following:

* A container at least six inches deep with holes in the bottom (for good drainage). Use a separate container for each type of herb.

* Well-draining, pasteurized potting mix.

* Seeds or small plants from a garden shop.

* Plant seeds as directed on the package. Leave about an inch of space at the top to allow for watering.

How do I care for my herb garden?

Treat your potted herbs like house plants. Water them regularly but don’t overwater, which can lead to soggy roots. Snip the herbs often so they will grow full and lush. For best growth, use liquid fertilizer mixed with water as directed every week or two.

How should I use fresh herbs?

* Rinse them well under running water and chop in tiny pieces. The idea is to expose as much of their surface area as possible. You can use fresh herbs in any recipe that calls for dried herbs. As a rule of thumb, use about three times as much fresh herbs as dried. Here are some winning combinations:

* Basil: tomatoes, fresh presto, spaghetti sauce, pizza, zucchini

* Chives: dips, potatoes, tomatoes

* Cilantro: fresh salsa, tomatoes

* Mint: carrots, fruit salads, tea

* Oregano: peppers, tomatoes, pizza, spaghetti sauce

* Parsley: potato salad, dips

When should I add herbs during food preparation?

In hot dishes such as soups and stews, add fresh herbs, such as basil, chives and cilantro, close to the end of cooking. Flavor can be lost with extended cooking. In cold dishes such as salads with dressings, add herbs several hours ahead of time to allow flavors to meld.

Can herbs be preserved?

Fresh herbs easily can be preserved by drying them in a dehydrator, oven on low or microwave. They also can be frozen.

For more information on this topic, contact Luella Morehouse, FNP education assistant, NDSU Extension Service Stutsman County, 116 1/2 First St. East, Jamestown. Morehouse may be reached at 252-9030 or luella.morehouse@ ndsu.edu.

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