Give Those Herbs a Haircut!
Some of the easiest plants you can grow in a garden are herbs. We grow an array of herbs in our backyard garden. Herbs are what started my love affair with gardening. Unlike Mark, my family did not have a backyard garden when I was young. My mom got into gardening after I left for college. It was Mark that got me into growing things, and the first plants I wanted to grow were herbs.
Herbs are extremely easy to grow. They are versatile plants that adapt well to growing in containers and indoors. Give them decent soil, good drainage, and some sun and they will reward you by spicing up your food. Even those of you who claim to not have a green thumb can grow herbs.
Why Do You Need To Prune Herbs?
Perhaps the biggest mistake newbie herb gardeners make is not pruning your plants enough. I know. It’s hard to make that first cut. You’ve nurtured that plant like a newborn babe. It has grow up tall and beautiful….and look it’s got a pretty flower! You want me to cut it?! Yes, I do.
Trimming herbs before they flower is essential in order for them to keep producing foliage. Like all things in nature, procreation is the plant’s primary focus! If you want to continue to get leaves you’ll need to remove the flower buds whenever you find them and not let the plant put energy into producing seeds. This will encourage your plant to focus on growing more leaves.
The most flavorful part of herbs is the tender new growth. Plus, a short and bushy plant is healthier than a tall/leggy plant. Keep your herb plants lush and bushy by regularly pinching 2-3 inches off the stem tips. This encourages branching and new growth. Don’t be afraid. You will not hurt your babies. Plus, once you pinch off the leaves, you get to make something with them…say like Pesto!
I gave every herb in our garden an aggressive hair cut and ended up with a big pile of edible leaves. I did not have enough basil to make a traditional pesto. So I thought, what the heck. Let me try to make a pesto with all the herbs!
In my pile of herbs I had the following: Basil, Chives, Parsley, Cilantro, Oregano, Sage, and some spinach (I know…not an herb). My pesto recipe is nothing special. I don’t even measure anything. I throw everything into my food processor and add stuff until I like the way it tastes!
I used the following ingredients:
- Herbs (typically basil….but whatever you have!)
- Olive Oil
- A lot of fresh garlic
- Parmesan Cheese
- Walnuts or Pine Nuts (what ever I got on sale)
I put the herbs into my food processor and chopped them up into a semi-paste. I add the garlic and nuts and process again until fully incorporated. With the food processor running, I add the olive oil through the top until the herb mixture resembles a smooth green paste. Lastly I add enough Parmesan and salt to taste.
Ta-da! Multi-Herb Pesto! How did it taste? DELICIOUS! It’s was stronger than regular basil pesto, but we like strong flavors in this house. It was wonderful on pasta and on hearty bread. I saved about a cup’s worth to use on some homemade pizza I have planned for next week.
Give it a shot. Get out there and prune those herbs. No need to worry that you do not have enough basil to make pesto. Mix it up, the results are delicious!