New to herbs

amethystkornJune 7, 2013

My 7 year old wanted to start an indoor garden so I went to Lowe's and bought a little 3 herb kit with basil, parsley, and chives. Now I realize I have no idea what to do with it. I would like some advice on how to harvest, store and use these herbs. So far I have clipped the plants but have no idea how to store the herbs for use or how to use them in cooking. Thanks in advance for helping out this amateur.

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balloonflower(5b Denver CO, HZ 5-6, Sunset 2b)

Chives, you can leave until you're ready to use them, then cut whole stems (leaves) about 1" above the soil level. They'll regrow. You can cut the whole clump, or just a few. Then, unless you have wonderful knife skills, the easiest way to chop them is with a kitchen shears. They can be dried or frozen as well. If you dry them, they'll need to be snipped into pieces prior to drying, or you'll get hay.

Parsley is similar in the way it's harvested--cut whole stems at just above ground level. If needed, you can keep cut stems in the fridge, though a glass of water on the counter works as well. I'm not a fan of dried parsley, but it does freeze. Wash and dry thoroughly, then just place whole stems in a zip bag and in the freezer, pulling out what you need.

For basil, it is best to harvest the tops of stems--about 1/3 at a time, rather than whole stems, though you can grab just a leaf or two too. It keeps great placing the stem in a glass on the counter, though if left too long will begin to root and you'll have another plant. Can be dried, but is better frozen, same as parsley.

As for use in cooking--that's a whole subject. Basically, learn the flavors, then just add them where it suits you. Chives have a mild onion flavor--good with potatoes, salads, etc. Parsley is a nice 'green' flavor that can be almost citrusy. It actually goes in just about anything. Basil can add a hint of anise (licorice) and is great with tomatoes. Also really great on things like pizza or in grilled cheese sandwiches.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 8:04PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

After your plants get started, be sure to give them as much light as you can because these herbs usually grow outside in the full sun. Chives is a nice perennial for outside gardens in most of the US except the most southern parts of the country. If you have space outdoors you may wish to consider moving them there.


    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 9:19PM
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jll0306(9/ Sunset 18/High Desert)

I love that this was your child's idea!!!!

S/he might enjoy watching the basil root and make a new plant. Be sure to let him/her smell it. It's a very distinctive smell, stronger than parsley or chives.

One of the best ways to encourage gardening is to show how the produce is used in food. Chop some chives into scrambled eggs, or put them on a baked potato with sour cream and butter.

Basil is good,chopped and sprinkled over tomatoes and then marinated for an hour or so in Balsamic vinegar. Or layered with tomato slices and fresh mozarella cheese....the kind that comes in a ball, not the string kind.

Curly parsley makes a lovely garnish, and is often eaten as a breath freshener after a meal. Flat parsley is wonderful in any Italian dish.

Another indoor gardening project the two of you might enjoy is rooting a sweet potato in water and letting the vines grow up strings thumbtacked to a wall or run up to a curtain rod.


    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 9:02AM
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Thank you so much for the all the help! Balloonflower Thank you SO much! I appreciate the detail you have given me; it definitely helps!

fatamorgana I will keep that idea in mind when I'm in a position to have an outside garden.

jll0306 Thank you for the additional ideas to do with my child. I've never been that great of a plant keeper. I started some strawberries with these herbs that apparently got infested with these little clear worms and white fuzzy moss type stuff on the soil and only one plant grew at all; so I'm definitely on the look out for more ways to bond with my kiddos and the 7 year old just loves gardening. She helps one of our neighbors with their outdoor garden every year.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 3:57PM
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