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Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme: Growing Indoor + Outdoor Herbs For Summer

May 26, 2020 11:39AM ● By Virginia Dean
‘Tis the season…or is it? Everyone, no matter the time of year or where the space, can grow what is one of the easiest and most beautiful home accessories - inside and out. It is the useful, colorful, and flavorful herb. The leafy green or flowering part of a plant can be grown in any fertile well-drained soil but can also thrive in raised beds or in pots. So, they can be grown at any time of year. And, they need little fertilizer and crop well without much feeding. They just need neutral to alkaline soil and high levels of sunlight. People have been using herbs for culinary and medicinal purposes for centuries. Today, they are as popular as ever. They are loved by cooks, herbalists, and gardeners for their unique flavors, healing qualities, and low maintenance and resistance to pests.

“Cinnamon sprinkled around plants deters mites and aphids,” said Upper Valley gardener Anne Santos.

Outdoor herbs that might be affected by these and other insects include sage, rosemary, thyme, chives, and tarragon, Santos said. If you have a garden, herbs can become stressed in windy or exposed sites. Thus, growing them in beds near buildings provide a warm sheltering microclimate and increases the chances of success.

Starting herbs from seed is important in the northeast, Santos explained. The growing season is short, all of four months and some herbs take 14-21 days to germinate. So, if you want to harvest herbs for salads for summer, for example, you will need to begin seeding in April indoors. Herbs that are easy to grow from seed include basil, borage, calendula, mint, chervil, cilantro, dill, parsley, and sage.

“Pots of fragrant herbs on a sunny windowsill are within easy access of snipping for a culinary dish,” Santos said. “If you live in an apartment and a garden is not available to you growing herbs indoors is the next best thing.”

In some cases, where slow growers might preclude good and fast results, you can grow new plants from cuttings. Stem cuttings should be taken in spring or summer when plants are healthy and are growing well. Rosemary and tarragon tend to root better in the fall so they can be used for cuttings at that time and then grown indoors over the winter. Good choices for cuttings include lavender, mint, oregano, sage, and thyme. Some herbs such as mint, basil, and sage will even form roots in a glass of water.

Lastly, comfrey – a native wild plant that becomes invasive if not thinned yearly – is effective for skin abrasions when the leaf is crushed and placed on the skin, according to Santos. Salves and tinctures can also be made from this plant for healing. Tea can be made from the dried leaf for intestinal maladies but use in small quantities, as too much can be toxic. Other medicinal herbs include echinacea, black cohosh, calendula, and bee balm. These are known for their flowers but have strong healing qualities.

So, where can these leafy delectables be purchased locally? Cedar Circle Farm & Education Center, Woodstock Farmers' Market, Crossroads Farm, The Co-op, Free Verse Farm, Hanover Garden Club, and Home Depot in Lebanon to name a few.

Happy growing!

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