By: John Verlinden
Meet my friend, Herb!
Spring is in the air … mixed with freezing rain and occasional flurries.
Springtime in New England can be elusive – here today, gone tomorrow, but it really is coming, really! Spring is awesome – warm weather, flowering trees, green sprouts appearing everywhere, and then there’s also the bare chests and hot pants. After a long, hard winter, nothing rejuvenates and restores us like getting outside, watching nature’s transformation and then getting our hands dirty digging in the soil.
As a chef, one of the things I appreciate most is that all my herb friends are back in town and will soon be ready to jazz up summer salads, yummy pastas, grilled meats, smoked fish and cool desserts. Growing your own herbs (don’t worry, Mom, I’m talking about the legal ones) is great way to celebrate the new season. Easy to grow; they’ll do fine just about anywhere they can get 8 hours or so of sun per day (outdoors – in the yard, in containers or in a window box, indoors – on a sunny windowsill). The hardest part is waiting until your plants are big enough to begin harvesting – cutting your herbs encourages their growth, but remove only about a third of the plant at a time. And, don’t worry if you’ve never done it before – it doesn’t cost much to get started and there’s lots of advice for the beginner herb gardener on the internet.
The rewards are worth the time and energy required. Herbs thrill our senses and benefit us body and soul. Herbs are beautiful to look at growing in their pots and garnishing our plates. They make everything they touch taste better and they are delightfully aromatic. Herbs are also powerful natural medicines containing anti-oxidants, essential oils, vitamins, and other nutrients that help our bodies fight germs and eliminate toxins and they bolster our immune system.
Umm-uh! I can almost taste the fettuccini tossed with fresh basil pesto sauce and that minty mojito now, can’t you?