DIY: Flavors from Your Backyard
By Ashley Stinson
Spring is in full bloom, and it’s the perfect time of year to get outside, get your hands in the dirt, and start growing something.
While the heat of the Valley can sometimes make growing a flower garden a bit of a challenge, a garden full of hardy herbs can be an ideal fit for our area. Culinary herbs are easy to take care of, love full sun, and can add that special something to your dinner. To get you started, here are three tried and true classics that every home cook should know, which are easy to grow and absolutely delicious:
Sweet, fragrant basil is a great addition to your garden if you like Italian food, and it’s as pretty in a planter or flower pot as it is on a caprese salad. Plant your basil in full sun, and make sure the soil is moist, but well drained, and it will produce throughout the summer. Make sure to harvest leaves regularly to promote new growth. When stalks begin to form buds at the top, simply pinch off the flower so that your basil remains fragrant and doesn’t become woody. Basil grows especially well when planted near tomato plants.
The strong, zesty flavor of oregano is great in barbecue sauces and in chili, or for soups, marinades, and savory breads. Planting this herb in full, powerful sunlight will give it a stronger flavor, which makes it ideal for conditions in our area. Oregano doesn’t need much water; water it whenever the soil around it is dry to the touch. Lightly trimming this plant will encourage it to grow. If you already have a vegetable garden, oregano is an ideal companion plant.
A great accompaniment for any meat dish, soup, or potato dish, thyme is hardy and loves sunlight. Plant your thyme in well-drained soil and water it regularly; when the soil dries out, soak it with water, and then wait until the soil has gone dry to the touch before you water the plant again. Thyme’s a good companion for cabbage and broccoli since it can drive off white flies.