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Herb Garden Pt. 2

If you were here for Herb Garden Pt. 1, welcome back! If you're like, "What? There's a Part 1?" You can catch up here!

So when we last left off, I mentioned that we are currently using two different methods to make leafy vegetables and herbs - an AeroGarden (inside) and a wall pocket planter (outside). Both methods have been effective, but I can tell you that both methods have their pros and cons.

AeroGarden



Pros
  • Convenient, controlled environment so you can grow any time of year
  • Has a timed LED light source
  • Yields very quickly from seed
  • No soil needed, just install the pod
  • Notifies you when you when it needs additional water and plant food through an LCD display
  • Seeds are engineered for the space of the unit (which means plenty of room for the roots)
  • You don't have to step outside to harvest
  • Plants in the adjacent area benefit from the extra light 
Cons
  • Light is on for several hours  day (this took some time getting accustomed to)
  • Takes up counter space in our kitchen (but you could put this almost anywhere with an outlet)
  • Tall plants can get scorched by the light source if you don't harvest fast enough
  • Sometimes a pod may not produce (our thyme an parsley pods did not produce enough to eat)
  • Delicate plants may not transplant well outside (we transplanted ours, but only because we were ready to  
  • The machine is an investment (we were lucky to catch an Amazon Treasure Truck deal for $60)

Wall Planter



Pros
  • Great for places like ours that don't have a back yard (we use our privacy fence to hang them)
  • You can purchase plants that have already started and add them to wall pocket to grow
  • Herbs are usually only $3.99 from Home Depot, and the wall pocket was  so minimal investment start up
  • Directly benefits from natural sunlight and rain when hung in the right place
  • Feels super gratifying to see plants get bigger and and spread (a green thumb feeling)
Cons
  • It's hard work tending an outside garden (rain, dirt, scorching heat, bugs, etc.)
  • Plants more susceptible to infestations and weeds
  • Requires regular pruning (notice in the photo above that some pruning needs to be done)
  • Soil dries out quickly, especially in this GA summer heat 
  • Can be a challenge to water (we started with a container, now we use a hose)
  • Additional materials and tools are needed to plant and maintain
Of course most people will go the traditional route and just grow herbs using soil, water, and sunshine, but I just wanted to make sure that you're aware that you have options! Now that we've talked about the pros and cons of each, let's talk about what I use to grow and maintain these herb babies outside.





Herb Garden Essentials (outside)


Currently We're Growing:
  1. Rosemary
  2. Purple Basil
  3. Genovese Basil
  4. Thai Basil
  5. Tarragon
  6. Lavender
  7. Sage
  8. Yerba Buena
  9. Mint
  10. Italian Oregano
  11. Thyme
  12. Lemon Balm
  13. Parsley
  14. Dill
  15. Chamomile
We were also growing Kale, Kolrabi, Mustard Greens, and Purple Cabbage. Only the Cabbage survived (I don't think that the others appreciate the space constraints of a wall pocket). But I did cook what we yielded in a skillet with olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. It was great.

*Bonus time*

My favorite super simple ways to use herbs:

Pesto
When we got ready to transplant our basil from the AeroGarden, I used Purple (from outside), Genovese, and Thai Basil to make homemade pesto. In fact I made 3 separate batches using each type and they were all wonderful. My recipe - at least 2 cups of basil, grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese, a clove or two of garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, and some red pepper flakes. Blend well in your food processor, and you feel like a Top Chef.


Cocktails
Lemon Balm - It pretty much goes with any light or dark concoction I've crafted and you get extra points for presentation. Smack a few leaves to release the oils and stir them into to the drink. Then use a few pieces on the stem for a garnish.  

Mashed Potatoes
Rosemary - Put a few sprigs in the water while the potatoes are boiling. When you finish, drain the water and mash the rosemary with the potatoes. It's super easy and add so much flavor! Add salt, pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and you're done! 

Pizza
Italian Oregano - I like to dress my pizza up with mixed greens and a little olive oil before putting it in the oven. Adding oregano to the mix amps up the flavor.

Chicken Salad
Dill - This herb can be slightly challenging since it's usually reserved for fish, but I recently added a few fronds to my Blue Apron chicken salad and it was super tasty.

Water
Yerba Buena - I was giving my Yerba Buena a trim outside and unfortunately cut off a few healthy pieces by mistake. I ended up putting it in a water bottle that has a little built-in infuser and the favor was lovely. I felt extra boogie and healthy that day! I want to try lemon balm and lavender next.


Do you have an herb garden? If so, what kind of herbs are you and your family enjoying this time of year? 

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