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Herbs and Spices for the Home Garden H-221

Herbs and Spices for the Home Garden H-221

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Herbs and Spices for the Home Garden
Herbs and Spices for the Home Garden

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Published by: rarturo on Feb 22, 2013
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Cooperative Extension Service 
College of Agriculture and Home Economics
 To find more resources for your business, home or family, visit the College of Agriculture and Home Economics on theWorld Wide Web at www.cahe.nmsu.edu
Spices and Herbsfor the Home Garden
Guide H-221
Revised by George W. Dickerson
Extension Horticulture Specialist
 This publication is scheduled to be updated and reissued 8/09
 The aromatic, medicinal and flavoringcharacteristics of herbs have been prized byhumans for more than 4,500 years. Worm-wood, elderberry, hemlock and other herbswere used by the ancient Egyptians as earlyas 1600 B.C. Although most herbs are usedprimarily for cooking and as scents to en-hance our environment, a resurgent interesthas occurred in medicinal uses of herbs andtheir decorative qualities in an edible orna-mental garden.
HERBS AND SPICE DEFINITIONS
 The term herbhas many definitions. It isoften defined botanically as an annual, bien-nial or perennial that does not produce per-sistent woody tissue. This, however, wouldleave out many aromatic trees and shrubsthat are often used as herbs. A broader defini-tion might be any plant or plant part that isused for its culinary, cosmetic, medicinal oraromatic qualities. Spices tend to be morearomatic or fragrant than herbs and have apungent taste. Spices are generally producedfrom flowers, fruit, seeds, roots or bark, whileherbs are generally made of fresh or driedleaves, although there are some exceptions.
GROWING CONDITIONS
Herbs and spices grown in New Mexico aregenerally limited to those adapted to neutral oralkaline soil growing conditions. A 10 feet by12 feet area generally supplies ample space foran herb garden for an average-sized family.It’s wise to devote one side of the garden toperennials and biennials and the other side toannuals, which need to be replaced each year.Many herbs, however, are well suited to anedible landscape where their dual natures can beexploited. Good examples include perennialsage with its purple flowers and savory leaves,and Florence fennel, whose long, fern-likearomatic leaves surround stems topped withsmall yellow flowers in an umbel-shaped head.Soil for an herb garden should be wellprepared. Early in the spring, fertilize the soilwith a balanced fertilizer and ample quantitiesof compost. Bed design varies according to themature sizes of the select plants and thewatering technique. Best results are generallyachieved with drip irrigation and mulch. Woodshavings, straw, pecan hulls, dry bluegrassclippings or other organic mulches help coolthe soil, reduce water evaporation and saltbuildup, discourage annual weeds and reducethe amount of soil splashing up on leaves.Planting depth and distance between plantsvaries with herbs. Some herbs are best propagated
 
Guide H-221
Page 2
vegetatively. Insects and diseases are rarely seriousproblems on most herbs.
PREPARING HERBS AND SPICES
Stems, flowers, and leaves can be tied togetherfor curing in small bundles and hung upsidedown in a dry, shady location (such as a garage,shed, or kitchen) until dry. Leaves and flowersalso can be dried in a shallow tray in the shade.Dry leaves and flowers can then be pulverizedby rubbing them between the palms and fin-gers. Store in airtight glass containers in thedark. Seeds from plants such as coriander, aniseand dill can be collected by placing the dryheads in a paper sack and separating the seedsby hand.
DESCRIPTIONS OF HERBSAND SPICES
 The following descriptions can be helpful inselecting herbs to be grown in a small area.
Aloe
(Aloevera)
.
 
A perennial plant with lightgreen, fleshy tapered leaves and spiny margins.Leaves form a rosette at the base of the plant.Cultivate in a greenhouse, sunroom or window-sill to keep from freezing (minimum of 41
°
F).Propagate from suckers that form at the base of the plant. Aloes prefer full sun to light shadeand well-drained soils. Leaves exude a gelati-nous sap when broken and can be used to treatburns and itchy skin.
Amaranth
 
(Amaranthus hypochondriacus).
Atall, bushy annual with green to red lanceolateto oblong leaves. Flowers occur in clustersfrom 6 to12 in long; prefers well-drained soilsand full sun. Leaves high in protein, cookedlike spinach. Red to black seeds grind intoflour for baking
Angelica
 
(Angelica archangelica)
. A biennialor perennial plant up to 8 feet tall. Oftencalled wild celery, angelica has purplish hollowstems. Umbel-shaped flower head with smallwhite to greenish flowers. Prefers moist, well-drained, rich soils and partial shade. Seeds re-quire light (do not cover seed) and 62
°
F togerminate. Licorice-flavored leaves can beadded to soups, stews, salads, teas and fish forflavor. Stems can be candied. Leaves can alsobe used in potpourri
Anise
 
(Pimpinella anisum).
Also called ani-seed, anise is an annual that grows up to 2 feettall with small, yellowish-white flowers in anumbel-shaped head. Anise likes relatively dry,well-drained soil and full sun. Seeds germinatein 20 days at a temperature of 70
°
F. Licorice-flavored leaves can be used to make tea and fla-vor soups, stews and salads. Seed can be groundor used whole to flavor cheese and eggs. Aniseenhances the sweetness of cake, cookies andother pastries. Seeds can be crushed and addedto sachets.
Arugula
 
(Eruca vesicaria subsp. sativa).
 
Up-right annual with toothed leaves and four-pet-aled, cream-colored flowers. Prefers moist, well-drained rich soil and full sun to partial shade.Leaves are very pungent and used in salads, stirfries, sauces and to flavor soups.
Basil
 
(Ocimum basilicum)
. Often referred toas sweet basil, this annual grows up to 2 feettall. Leaves are very fragrant with a rich, mildlyspicy, mint/clove flavor. Prefers moist, well-drained rich soil and full sun. Germination isoptimum at 75 to 85
°
F. Use fresh leaves formaximum flavor in tomato sauces, salads, vin-egars, teas, and eggs, and on lamb, fish andpoultry. Add dry leaves to potpourris and sa-chets. Other species of basil vary in color, form,flavor and fragrance.
Borage
 
(Borago officinalis).
An annual, 1
1/2
to 2 feet tall with hollow stems and numer-ous grayish-green hairy leaves up to 6 inlong. Blooms are star-shaped blue flowers.Prefers rich, moist, sandy loam soils and fullsun. Grows easily from seed. Add leaves totea for a crisp cucumber-like flavor. Youngleaves can be finely chopped and added to
 
Guide H-221
Page 3
salads, soft cheeses, sandwiches or cooked asgreens. Candied flowers can be used as deco-rations on pastries. Leaves also have beenused by some herbalists as poultices to sootheexternal inflammations.
Calendula
 
(Calendula officinalis).
A hardyerect annual covered with fine hairs. Grows toa height of 18 in; likes full sun and well-drained soil. Also called the
pot marigold,
seedshould be sown in the garden when soil tem-peratures are 60
°
F or higher. The pale yellowto orange ray flowers make it an excellent or-namental. Petals can also be dried and used tocolor and flavor butter and custards. Petalsalso add flavor to soups, stews and poultry.Dried flowers can also be used in flower ar-rangements or as a yellow dye for wool. Re-ported to be a good antiseptic.
Caraway
 
(Carum carvi).
Annual and biennialtypes grow to 2 feet tall with small, white flow-ers in compound umbels. Prefers sandy loamsoils with full sun to slight shade. Easily propa-gated directly from seed. Seeds commonly usedto flavor rye breads, salads, waffles, soups, pork,pastries, cheese and sauerkraut. Leaves also arepopular in salads, soups and stews. Roots can besteamed, chopped, and used in soups and stewsas well.
Catnip
 
(Nepta cataria).
Gray-green perennialthat can reach a height of 1 to 3 feet. Soft whitefuzz covers leaves and square-shaped, ridgedstems. Flowers are white with purple-pinkmarkings. Leaves are heart-shaped and coarselytoothed with whitish bottoms. Seed germina-tion takes place in 20 days at 67
°
F, but propa-gation is easier using vegetative cuttings. Likessandy, well-drained soil and full to partialshade. Dry leaves and flower heads can be usedto make tea to aid digestion and sleep. Dryleaves can also be used as a favorite stuffing forcloth toys for cats.
Catmint
(Nepta mussinii)
isan ornamental with lavender blue flowers inloose spikes.
Chamomile, German
 
(Matricaria recutita).
An erect annual, German Chamomile can reacha height of 2 to 3 feet. Stems are heavilybranched with feathery foliage. One-inch diam-eter, daisy-like flowers develop in early summerto late fall. Less fragrant than Roman Chamo-mile, German Chamomile has apple-scented/fla-vored flowers with hollow, conical-shaped yellowcenters with white- to cream-colored petals.Propagated from seed, German Chamomile pre-fers moist to dry well-drained soils and full sun.Flowers are harvested when fully opened andused fresh or dried. Leaves are somewhat coarserthan those of Roman Chamomile. Dried flowersare used to make tea for indigestion and insom-nia. Plant extracts also are used in various lotions,ointments and inhalations.
Chamomile, Roman
 
(Chamaemelum nobile).
A low-growing perennial that can reach a heightof 9 in. Leaves are feather-like with downy fuzz.Daisy-like, 1-inch diameter flowers have yellowsolid disks with silver-white to cream coloredpetals. Seeds require 15 days at 65
°
F for germi-nation. Easier to propagate from mother-plantoffshoots. Prefers a light, dry soil and full sun topartial shade. The fragrance and flavor are stron-ger than German Chamomile. Flowers are usedto flavor tea. Plant extracts also are used in vari-ous lotions, ointments and inhalations. Flowersand dry leaves are also used in potpourri.
Chervil
 
(Anthriscus cerefolium).
A hardy an-nual (plain and curly types) with fern-like leavesreaching a height of 2 feet. Flowers are small,white and borne on compound umbel heads.Likes moist soils with ample quantities of or-ganic matter. Prefers partial shade. Leaves usedas seasoning for salads, soups, stews, vegetables,chicken, sauces, fish, and eggs. Also used in teasto stimulate digestion. Leaves are also used inpotpourris, while dried and fresh flowers can beused in bouquets.
Chicory
 
(Cichorium intybus).
A deep-rootedperennial with dandelion-like blue flowers.Grows to a height of 3 to 5 feet. Propagated

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