Your greenhouse provides an excellent opportunity to grow your own herbs. And nothing adds spice to your life, or to your salads and stews, like a bit of flavorful chive or basil picked fresh from your garden. Turn the everyday boredom of cooking into an interesting and exciting adventure and at the same time add delicate blossoms and aromatic fragrance to your garden.
Most herbs do well under glass. They require plenty of sunshine and temperatures upwards from 50 F. Humidity is beneficial, and a soil mixture of equal parts sand, peatmoss, garden loam, and well-rotted manure provides the nourishment and good drainage needed for optimum growth. Provide good air circulation and syringe the plants occasionally to remove accumulated or splashed dust or dirt cleanliness is essential if herbs are to be used in cooking. Pests are few, but if trouble develops, select your control material carefully, mindful that many sprays or dusts must not be used on plants that are to be eaten.
Young plants may be purchased from garden centers or mail-order houses in spring or fall, or you may try your hand at raising your favorite from seed which may be planted just about any time you wish.
If you have never used herbs in cooking, you have a delightful treat in store. There is no end to the possibilities. Some herbs are more delicate than others, and you will have to experiment a bit before arriving at the right amount to suit your individual taste. Most leaves are dried before being used, but some, such as parsley or mint, are used fresh as a garnish as well as dried. Chive has a delicate onion-flavored foliage that is cut as needed for soups or salads. Dill leaves are used to flavor sauces or pickles. Some herbs have medicinal properties: anise is steeped as a tea to treat colic, catnip tea aids digestion, horehound leaves steeped in boiling water provide a cough remedy.
Follow suggestions in cookbooks or cooking columns as a start. Then branch out on your own experiment, be adventurous. There's no limit to the fun and interest to be found in a tiny herb garden in your greenhouse.
ANISE (Pimpinella Anisum). Annual, height 1 foot, white flowers. Seeds and leaves used for flavoring, leaves for garnishes.
BASIL (Ocimum Basilicum). Annual, height about 1 foot. Use leaves to season soups, meats, salads, cheese souffle, omelets, or in a cheese-dip.
CARAWAY (Carum Carvi). Annual or biennial, height 1 foot. Use seeds in breads, cakes, or to flavor cheese.
CHIVE (Allium Schoenaprasum). Tender green leaves are cut and used fresh to give a delicate onion flavor to soups, salads, and soft cheeses.
DILL (Anethum graveolens). Annual or biennial to 2 feet tall; yellow flowers. Use leaves to flavor pickles and sauces.
FENNEL (Foeniculum vulgare). A perennial best grown as an annual because plants reach 4 feet in height. Use the leaves dried to flavor fish sauces, and green for garnishing.
LEMON BALM (Melissa officinalis). Annual, about a foot tall. Use leaves to season soups, meats, salads.
ROSEMARY (Rosmarinus officinalis). Hardy evergreen that grows to 3 feet, has spikes of pale blue flowers. Prefers an alkaline soil. Leaves are delicious in chicken soup, ham-loaf, cauliflower, or cooked with potatoes before mashing.
SUMMER SAVORY (Satureja annua). Annual, about 18 inches tall. Sprinkle the aromatic leaves in consomme or split-pea soup, or combine them with hash or scrambled eggs.
SWEET MARJORAM (Majorana hortensis). Annual, sweet flowers on 2-foot spikes. Use leaves for seasoning: in chicken soup, combined with thyme to dust chicken before frying, or sprinkled on fish fillets before cooking.
TARRAGON (Artemisia Dracunculus). Perennial, grows to 2 feet in height. Cook dried leaves with beets, sprinkle on fish fillets, or combine with flour for dusting liver before cooking.
THYME (Thymus vulgaris). Low-growing evergreen, only 6 inches high. Use dried leaves for seasoning.
WINTER SAVORY (Satureja montana). Evergreen plant with dwarf characteristics, lilac flowers. Dried leaves used for seasonings and flavor.