The most important word for cool weather herbs is SUN. Water deeply (as in: water slowly so that all the soil gets a drink, not just the top & sides of the pot or ground soil) once a week… and did I mention SUN? A lot of people want to grow herbs inside and while this might work for some (tender herbs like basil, cilantro/coriander, chives in a well lighted, airy, kitchen window do “okay” but still prefer outdoors), most hardier herbs like these listed below do best outside and can stay there year round.
Rosemary ~ A great perennial for the garden; the only caution about rosemary is that it becomes a large plant rather quickly. If you use a LOT of rosemary that’s great but make sure you either give it space in your garden or have a pot large enough to accommodate its growth. There are two forms of rosemary, upright and prostrate, which is important to remember when acquiring your plant. If you want a tall rosemary to make skewers with later on, upright is best and if you’d like a draping, waterfall of delicious cuttings, prostrate will be your choice. Rosemary likes sun and lots of it and usually only needs a deep drink of water once a week for most of the year. The beautiful blue flowers attract bees, so you’re helping them, too.
My favorite rosemary use: I was surprised by these delicious nuggets one evening when I arrived home from work. A “grate” twist on roasted potatoes from Jamie Oliver.
Sage ~ There are many choices for flavorful sage and this makes it a picturesque herb grouping for a large pot as you can have a rainbow of colors and flavors. Berggarten, the most used in Thanksgiving cooking, is beautiful grey-green, while some of the variegated forms can be burgundy, cream & green and even tri-color. There is also white sage (a native plant) that people use to ‘smudge’ which grows into a rather large plant. All should not be confused with the sage we grow for garden color (gregii, leucantha, etc.).
My favorite sage use: a winter white gravy made from broth, thickener (flour/cornstarch), garlic, celery, a little soy sauce, plenty of sage (you can pre-roast it in a pan with butter or olive oil) and pour it on roasted veggies or leftovers.
Oregano ~ So many varieties, so many flavors! Mexican, Greek, Italian, sweet, spicy, you name it! Oregano is used in so many cultures, choose the one for whichever dish you’re cooking. Some, like Roman Beauty, are quite decorative and live for sun and light, regular watering.
My favorite use for oregano: PIZZA! If you’re making a traditional Margherita use Italian oregano, if you’re making a Mediterranean (tomatoes, artichokes, Kalamata olives, feta and Greek oregano) and if you’re spicing it up with beans, salsa, cilantro, lettuce and chiles, Mexican oregano is perfect.
Parsley ~ Whether you choose flat or curly leaf, it’s only a little difficult during winter if it’s cold or rainy (Rain? What’s that?) but nonetheless a good herb filled with vitamin C for the cooler months. Make sure it’s got a lot of sun and evenly moist soil.
My favorite use for parsley: Tabbouli! Something you can make and have in the fridge for lunches or snacking, there are as many recipes for tabbouli as you can think up. I like to use either bulghar (the traditional ingredient) or couscous with lots of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, chopped tomatoes and cucumbers and TONS of parsley, really as much as you can chop and chew.
Sorrel ~ I’ll admit, I added this one because it’s a “perennial” favorite of mine. Start it in the fall and soon it, (what I call The Flavor of Spring) will be a beautiful plant, ready for leaf plucking. Its lemony-sour leaves are the best in early spring to make soup, add to salads and added to so many dishes (pesto!) plus, it’s easy to grow, just find a spot in your garden where it can live all year. It grows to about 15″ x 15″ and requires regular watering.
My favorite use for sorrel: In a spring, 7 herb sauce (Gruenersosse) to use on potatoes that I learned in Germany. Here’s a recipe from Epicurious: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/frankfurt-green-sauce-50033853 But I also love just eating the leaves in salads and pesto.
Lemongrass ~ Another good one to start in the fall so it’s roots can take hold and then you’ll have ample amounts for Thai food, ice tea and anything else you can imagine for this sweet, lemony herb. It grows rather large so put it somewhere its 36″x36”of grassy goodness can be appreciated.
Favorite use for lemongrass: Iced tea! While water is boiling prep the stalks by cleaning and slightly pounding them to release the juice, then add to the pan or pour water over them in your container (you can add ginger, too!). Steep for 5 minutes and enjoy with or without a little sweetener. This also makes a great sun tea and you can add lavender or ginger to that, too.