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Herbs give big rewards with a small amount of work—even the most
inexperienced, space-strapped gardener will have success. This
GAYLA TRAIL is the creator of
YouGrowGirl.com, the hit community for
• Guidance on choosing the right plants, designing dazzling inground gardens and striking edible containers, and growing herbs
• Ins and outs of growing hundreds of plant varieties, from warm
• Handy tricks for winterizing plants and extending the season
• Simple recipes for cooking with and preserving your harvest: HerbEncrusted Goat Cheese; Homegrown Bloody Mary Mix; Lavender
Shortbread; Orange, Rosemary, and Honey Ice Cream
• Upcycling projects based on reusable materials
Perfect for novice gardeners and longtime enthusiasts looking for
inspiration, Easy Growing is a fun, power-packed resource for creating
a delicious herb garden anywhere.
growing food in difficult urban spaces. Her
work as a writer and photographer has
appeared in the New York Times; O, the Oprah
Magazine; ReadyMade; Domino; Budget Living;
and more. She is the author of Grow Great
Grub and You Grow Girl: The Groundbreaking
Guide to Gardening.
Also available as an eBook
Cover design: Fluffco
Front cover and author photographs:
Back cover photographs: Gayla Trail
Flowers from Small Spaces
fruity lemon verbena to exotic ‘Cinnamon’ basil, and more
over a decade sharing her experiences
• Organic Herbs and Edible
and aromatic Mojito mint to peppery nasturtium flowers, from
enthusiastic gardeners, where she has spent
Growing just a handful of herbs and edible flowers can add
sparkle to dozens of meals year-round. Fortunately for us,
these plants are not fussy. In Easy Growing, Gayla Trail shares
the tips, ideas, and know-how you need to raise delicious
organic edibles wherever you can squeeze in a planter.
I S B N 978-0-307-88687-3
author of Grow Great Grub
and Edible Flowers
from Small Spaces
U.S. $19.99/$22.99 CAN
Copyright © 2012 by Gayla Trail
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Clarkson Potter/
Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group,
a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
CLARKSON POTTER is a trademark and POTTER
with colophon is a registered trademark of Random
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
is available upon request.
Printed in China
Design by Fluffco
Cover design by Fluffco
Cover photographs by Davin Risk
and Gayla Trail
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
To Mr. Barry Parker,
whose lessons about gardening,
life, and friendship have changed
me for the better.
4 • Easy Growing
Origami Seed Envelope
You Will Need
Scrap paper sheets, cut into
squares (4" min)
This method of folding an origami envelope from recycled
paper is quick work. The result is a stylishly simple shape that
doesn’t require any stapling, gluing, or tape, and it is perfect
for storing seeds.
Use scrap paper from out-of-date garden catalogs and
magazines, old maps, frayed posters, discarded wrapping
paper, or wallpaper samples. Thicker paper turns out a
sturdier final product.
Store the filled envelopes in a vintage card catalog, recipe
box or shoebox, glass jar, or anything that will keep the seeds
1. Fold a paper square in half diagonally to make a triangle.
2. With the triangle pointing up, fold the bottom right corner
up until it meets with the left side. Press the seam flat.
3. Repeat with the left corner until it meets the right side.
4. Fold down the top flap and tuck it into the fold of the front
piece to secure.
5. To fill the envelope with seeds, simply pull out the top flap
and open it up. Pour the seeds in and tuck it back together.
6. Label each packet with the name of the plant and the date
collected. If you can’t write on the packet, print the labels
found online at easy-growing.com onto sticker paper and
affix one to the front.
66 • Easy Growing
Set aside a portion of the seeds that you
harvest for growing next year’s garden.
• Clean them and lay them on a piece of
newsprint or paper towel for a few days
until they are thoroughly dry. You do
not need to wash seeds that come from
a dry seedpod (e.g., coriander, dill, basil).
• Store them in an envelope or glass jar
that is marked with the variety name and
• Only save seeds that are mature
when you pick them. They should be
practically falling off the plant.
Making More • 67
(Lavandula spp.)—Mint Family (Lamiaceae)
Lavender is a soothing and addictively fragrant herb. If
your only contact has been in the form of a soap-on-arope holiday gift set from Great-Aunt Jean . . . I beg your
pardon, but you are missing out.
I really wish more people would come around
to lavender flowers as a culinary herb. Strong and
resinous, lavender has more in common with rosemary
than mint. Use it in moderation and you’ll be surprised
to find how much it adds to both sweet and savory
foods. Like rosemary, it suits potatoes and robust meat
dishes perfectly. It’s wonderfully weird in ice cream,
hot cocoa, and colorful summer drinks. Lavender
Shortbread (page 164) is not to be missed.
Lavender is broken down into two basic groups: the
hardy English varieties and the frost-tender French
types. English lavender (Lavandula augustifolia) is
generally better for eating. My favorite is ‘Hidcote’, a
dwarf variety that is very good for container growing.
It has deep purple flowers that are sweet and vibrant.
‘Munstead’ is another deliciously sweet and compact
variety with pale flowers.
French lavender has a camphorous, medicinal
quality that makes it unpleasant for eating, but it’s
mighty pretty to look at with its serrated leaves
(Lavandula dentata), as is ‘Kew Red’ or Spanish
lavender, with its showstopping flowers.
Allow the soil to dry out slightly between
• Habit: 1–2 ft tall | 1- to 2-ft spread
• Spacing: 8–24”
• Minimum Depth: 8”
• Varieties: ‘Hidcote’, ‘Blue Cushion’,
TIP: Space plants about 1 ft apart in the
100 • Easy Growing
Lavender is a silvery-leaved Mediterranean herb—that
should tell you that it needs dry, sandy soil and a place
in the sun. I’ve tried it in shadier spots; it doesn’t
work out. Wet soil, especially through the winter, is
the surest way to kill it. High humidity is another
common problem. When the humidity is high, make
sure lavender has lots of space and good air circulation
around the leaves.
Cut the plant back in the fall so it will not sustain
damage from winter winds, but never go into the woody
Sowing and Planting
Grow new plants from transplants, cuttings, or
divisions or by layering stems that touch the ground.
Put them out in the spring and add lots of sand, grit, or
gravel to the planting hole to improve drainage. English
lavender can withstand cold spring weather; it’s wet
feet that kills it.
Lavender Latte or Mocha
You won’t believe it until you try it, but lavender
blossoms lend an indescribably delicious depth
to coffee and hot chocolate. Whether you drink
drip, French press, or espresso, add a teaspoon of
lavender buds per cup of coffee to the filter basket
and brew normally. Add a teaspoon or so of cocoa
to make a lavender mocha.
You can also opt for adding a bit of lavender while
steaming the milk, or sweeten with Lavender
Blossom Sugar (page 200) after brewing.
Lavender pot, clockwise from top
right: French lavender, Hidcote,
‘Goodwin Creek’, Grosso.
So Many Herbs, So Little Time • 101
Chive Blossom Vinegar
1 cup chive blossoms
1 cup white wine or white
Makes 1 cup
Chive blossoms are a short-term crop that come and go in the
spring before you can bat an eyelash. Capturing their mild
chive flavor in a good-quality vinegar is the perfect way to
enjoy them well past their season.
1. Harvest the chive blossoms in the spring just after they
open. To prepare the chive blossoms, snip off the stems and
gently jostle them in a bowl of cool water to remove all dirt
and debris. Pile the wet blossoms into the center of a clean,
dry kitchen towel, pull up all of the corners to create a sack,
and shake vigorously until the blossoms are dry.
2. Stuff a clean pint-sized Mason jar with the clean blossoms.
3. In a small saucepan, gently warm the vinegar over mediumlow heat. Do not bring to a boil. Pour the vinegar over the
blossoms, making sure to submerge them completely.
4. Once the liquid has cooled, cover the jar with a lid made of
nonreactive material such as glass. Alternatively, protect a
metal canning lid by first placing a square of waxed paper
between the jar and the lid.
5. Store in a cool, dark cupboard for a week or two and strain
into a second, clean or sterilized jar when the vinegar suits
your taste buds.
Frankly, all herbal vinegars are delicious—experiment with
several edible flowers, leaves, and seeds and keep a medley of
flavors on hand.
Sterilize the jar if you intend to keep
the vinegar for a month or more.
Otherwise, store it in the fridge for
short-term usage. To sterilize, heat the
jar in the oven for 20 minutes at 250°F.
178 • Easy Growing
Growing the Pantry • 179
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