How to Grow & Preserve Herbs

Overview

Herbs have a long history of healing injuries and diseases according to Janice Cox, author of "Natural Beauty at Home." Herbs can soothe the senses through scent. They're used as ingredients in lotions and potions. And of course they bring out the flavors in cooking. Growing herbs is a worthwhile endeavor in the garden. Preserve the herbs, and use them all year long as well as fresh from the garden.

Grow the Herbs

Step 1

Locate the herbs in a sunny spot in the garden. Dig the soil and add compost and slow-release fertilizer per package directions. Plant the herbs, spacing them 12 inches apart. Space taller herbs, like dill and fennel, 18 inches apart. Water until the soil is saturated to a depth of 4 inches.

Step 2

Fertilize once a month with water soluble food. Water the herbs if the weekly rainfall is less than 1 inch. Remove weeds.

Step 3

Pinch the herbs back to keep them bushy. Some, like basil, have a tendency to become leggy. Remove any flower buds.

Perserve the Herbs

Step 1

Pick herbs in the morning when they're fresh from the cool evening. Rinse well. Bundle them in bunches, and secure with a rubber band. Hang in a warm place. Place paper bags over the bunches to keep the dust off while they're drying. Herbs are dry when the stems snap easily and the leaves crumble. Use one quarter the amount of dried herbs as you would fresh.

Step 2

Pick the herbs and wash. Chop finely or put in a food processor. Pack the herbs into ice cube trays. Add water to fill the trays. Freeze until firm. Store in labeled zip lock bags. When you need the herb, remove a cube from the freezer and add to the dish. Use the same amount of frozen herb as you would fresh.

Step 3

Wash and dry the fresh herbs. Remove woody stems, but let most of the leaves remain on the stems. Place the herbs in clean sterilized bottles. Sterilize the bottles by boiling in water for 10 minutes then removing and placing upside down on towels to dry. Fill the bottles with olive oil or apple cider vinegar. Store the olive oil in the refrigerator. The cider may be stored in the pantry. Use the infused oils to add the flavor of the herb to the dish.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't use string to tie the bundles because as the stems dry they become smaller and will slip out of the string.

Things You'll Need

  • Herbs
  • Compost
  • Shovel
  • Fertilizer
  • Rubber bands
  • Paper bags
  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Ice cube tray
  • Freezer
  • Olive oil
  • Vinegar
  • Bottles with caps

References

  • "Natural Beauty at Home"; Janice Cox; 1995
  • "Burpee Complete Gardener"; Allan Armitage et al; 1995
Keywords: grow herbs, freeze herbs, drying herbs

About this Author

Katie Rosehill holds an MBA from Arizona State University. She began her writing career soon after college and has written website content and e-books. Her articles have appeared on GardenGuides.com, eHow, and GolfLinks. Favorite topics include personal finance - that MBA does come in handy sometimes - weddings and gardening.