Whether in pot or plot, herbs add serious spice to life and to your gardens

betsjukofsky@aol.comMarch 8, 2013 

Today's gardener can be defined as a person who grows a few plants in pots or a variety of plants in a garden -- or two that take up much of the yard space.

When it comes to herb culture the pots win almost every time. In my many years of growing herbs, both edible and not, I've turned to growing almost all herbs in containers. Often they are grouped together, usually three varieties to a pot.

What do other herbalists do? Pot or not? At the monthly meeting of the Hilton Head Island Herb Society the scheduled program was listed as member participation: "Share your first efforts in gardening. Bring a book or magazine that inspired you."

We formed a circle to tell our tales. There were old, well-used books, garden photos, memories of mothers -- and a grandmother -- who planted the garden bug in us. As a result, we grow plants for visual beauty of home and yard, and with the addition of herbal plants, good health and delicious cuisine. All of the members were growing herbs; most of the herbs are grown in pots.

Make it easy on yourself: Group three or four varieties in the same pot, making sure they have the same light and water requirements. Thyme, rosemary and sage can go in one; they like to dry out between waterings. I left parsley out on purpose; it can go with any grouping. Basil, Southern tarragon and chives like to do it alone.

Herb Society members are noted for their expertise in the kitchen, the light luncheon served at each meeting is always four-star, as well as their curiosity. Each month a different herb is chosen to be featured in the dishes served by a committee member. February's herb was coriander, which is both difficult to grow and use in cooking. The committee of three -- Pat Timmerman, Ann Sidford, and Lois Hagoort -- made a soup, a sandwich spread and a dessert that were unusual and delicious.

All parts of the coriander plant have culinary uses: the leaves (cilantro) can be chopped and added to stews and soups; the root can be cooked and eaten as a vegetable; the seeds are added to curries. The leaves have a strong, pungent aroma; the seeds have a light, almost lemony, aroma and are best kept for six months before using. I throw coriander seeds and dill seeds into the pickle jars in the refrigerator. They add a slightly spicy flavor. Coriander and dill go well together. A delicious herb butter is a mix of a 1/2 pound of butter, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander, 3/4 teaspoon ground dill seed, 3/4 teaspoon ground celery seed.

ANNUAL GARDEN TOUR MAY 18

Fred Gebler, chairman of the 2013 All Saints Garden Tour, has announced that local photographer Jerry Griffin's photograph "Two Blue Flowers," will be featured on the commemorative posters used to promote the group's 26th annual Garden Tour this year. This is the first time in the history of the church's annual Garden Tour that a photographer has won this competition. At the art exhibit held at the Hilton Head Island library in February, Ruth Ledvina's painting "Spring Poppies" won the People's Choice Award.

HERB SALE

The annual spring herbal sale of the Hilton Head Herb Society, featuring products, edibles and plants will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 30 at Pineland Mall. All proceeds will go to local organizations. The sales are held twice a year. As of November, the society has given $79,523,000 to local charities.

Correction: In the list of donors to the Town of Hilton Head Xeriscape Garden, the Hilton Head Island Herb Society should have been included.

Sixty-year master gardener and environmentalist Betsy Jukofsky has spent three decades on Hilton Head Island learning the peculiarities of Coastal Lowcountry gardening.

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