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Larry A. Sagers Regional Horticultural Specialist Utah State University Extension Service Thanksgiving Point Office © All Rights Reserved
For additional information read my column in yesterday’s Deseret Morning News. It appears every Friday.
Unlike most edible plants we grow where we measure in bushels or pounds, the herbs are measured in pinches or dashes. Few garden plants evoke the interest ands the questions of the herbs. Historically, herbs season foods, cast spells, added fragrance and healed the sick. When searching garden niches, leave room for herbs.
Our guest this morning is Judy Arnold an herb growing enthusiast. She uses herbs for cooking, preserving, crafts and in many other areas of her life.
Her passion changed to herbs after she attended a herb class. “After I attended this herb class, I started with six grow boxes. I went out and bought a whole bunch of herbs and planted them in alphabetical order. I then went through a series of classes on cooking with herbs.”
Her fame quickly built and her garden and herb expertise grew. After a news story on her garden, the local garden club wanted a tour and workshop and Arnold was thrust into the role of expert.
“I found I did not really know much about herbs, so I knew I could never do that again. I took classes at Thanksgiving Point and became a Master Gardener through Utah State University. I became educated and confident enough to teach classes.”
“Teaching basic gardening classes is, to me, like taking care of your baby brother. It is something you have to do. Growing herbs is like being with my favorite boyfriend, (now my husband). I want to spend my time with them and my heart skips a beat thinking about them.”
Some wonder where herbs fit into the garden. In botanical terms, an herb is a plant that does not produce a woody stem and dies back to the ground each winter to a perennial root system. Herbaceous plants include perennials flowers, bulbs and grasses.
To an herb enthusiast like Arnold, herbs are plants that are a source of seasonings for cooking. They include plants used for scents, in cosmetics or for medicinal purposes. Some herbs are woody and fall outside the botanical definition of herbaceous plants.
In pioneer gardens, herbs were the major source of food seasonings. Herbs were used for curing illnesses, storing with linens, strewing on floors and covering the bad taste of meats before refrigeration was devised. They became dyes for homespun fabrics and fragrances.
Arnold has these suggestions for those who want to share her passion here in Utah. “ Start by asking what are you going to use. There is no point growing herbs you do not like. However, I encourage people to experiment and have some fun. It is always fun to try something new.”
“When you find something you like, then find different flavors. Take the mints as an example. Chocolate mint is my favorite but I like orange, lemon, lime and apple mint. Some of these are harder to find. For example lemon mint is great for culinary use but you cannot find it in the stores so you have to grow it yourself.”
“I am partial to the basils and the thymes because there are so many different kinds. My new favorite is a spicy orange thyme that I found on the internet this year.”
“If you like Italian food, grow the herbs for that. Fresh basil, oregano and marjoram make any dish you cook more flavorful. For those that like Thai cooking plant some lemon grass and other herbs to make them more tasty and flavorful.”
For additional growing tips consult my column in yesterdays Deseret Morning News.
Judy Arnold will be the featured speaker at the Garden Talks in the Park this Wednesday at the Brigham Young Historical Park at the corner of North Temple and State Street at 7:30 PM. The lectures are every Wednesday this month. Come learn about herbs and sample some of her great recipes.