Monday

5 More Herb Recommendations for Your Garden This Year

Stevia PlantI have a few more suggestions for your herb patch this season. Some of them are a little unexpected, but they're part of what makes herb gardening such a special gardening pursuit. Most of these offerings are pretty easy to grow once you get them started, but the first three: stevia, ginger and tea camellia aren't frost tolerant. You can over-winter them indoors, or in the case of stevia, over winter new cuttings from the mother plant.

Stevia - Plant some stevia; you'll be happily surprised at how sweet and useful it is. It's actually pretty amazing. Just place your plant order early. Stevia is notoriously difficult to start from seed (of 20 seeds I planted only two sprouted, and I've been doing this for a while).

Ginger - Start a big pot of ginger if you do any oriental cooking. It's very convenient and you can bring it indoors from a shady garden spot when the weather gets chilly in autumn. This is one houseplant cum patio plant that pays for itself. There's also something satisfying about harvesting a little bit of the chubby outer tuberous rhizome (root) for your evening stir fry.

Tea Camellia - If you don't have to worry about autumn frost or have a big, sunny window available, try your hand at growing tea plant. Making your own teas is all kinds of fun, and having a plant of your own will encourage you to learn more about this old and often complex beverage.

Saffron - Plant out some saffron crocus of your very own. (Yes, saffron spice free or about as close as you'll ever get!). This is a summer planting project. I'll post more about this great little bulb as planting time approaches. If you're not a saffron enthusiast, you soon will be.

Specialty Mints - Install mint in a wet corner of your property. This one made my spring list, but why not consider buying some unique varieties this year. I like peppermint, but apple mint and chocolate mint are running a close second. Mint is refreshing in salads and amazing in beverages like mojitos and mint juleps. It's also wonderful on lamb. It makes a soothing tea if you have an upset stomach, and it's a pretty bouquet herb (peppermint especially). Hint: Keep it corralled in the flowerbed. If it likes the accommodations it'll take over.

Note: The stevia plant in the photo will grow to about three feet. It's a nice little addition that makes an easy, very sweet and calorie free syrup.

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