Saturday

Herb Notes for February

The following are a few thoughts on the herbs I keep around the house.

Peppermint

Grow peppermint in a glass of water. A kitchen window is great for this. It will root readily and be available for garnishes all winter long. Fresh peppermint is a flavorful addition to English Breakfast tea, or hot chocolate.

Chives

Indoor grown chives make a convenient substitution for green onion in omlettes and twice baked potatoes. Keep an inexpensive pair of sissors near the pot and snip them as needed, leaving four or five inches intact.

Lavender

The English lavender plant that I keep in the den doesn't bloom during the winter, but it does give off a strong lavender fragrance. A small spring placed in a pillowcase will give me sweet dreams all week.

Aloe Vera

The large potted aloe vera by the garden door is dormant all winter, and I only water it a few times. It stays uniformly green and attractive, even though it gets less light than I would have thought necessary (three to four hours).

Dill

Dill sprouts for me very easily, and I try to keep a crop growing all year. In the winter, I set seeds indoors in October and again in January. I cut them back before they start getting leggy. They seldom make it until spring, but at least I have fresh dill for salmon.

Herb Wreath

Every year I make a wreath of herbs from the garden. I use rosemary and sage around a grapevine base, and add fresh marjoram, oregano, basil, thyme, lavender, chives, feverfew, peppermint, spearmint, lemon balm, and woodruff in small bunches. Once they've dried in place, I go back and fill in with red peppers that I've dried ahead of time, together with other decorative elements like ribbon, cinnamon sticks, and dried roses.

I snip herbs off the wreath all winter as I need them. Of all the herb gifts that I've given over the years, wreaths are by far the favorite.

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