Ann McCormick’s Guide to Homegrown Herbs

HerbsAnn McCormick, a well-renowned garden writer, comes out with her book “Homegrown Herb Garden: A Guide to Growing and Culinary Uses” and shares tips on how to grow them in people’s backyard.

Even with the love for fresh herb these days, it seems like people still have little knowledge on how to grow them right.

McCormick, with chef Lisa Baker Morgan, finds a solution to this by producing a step-by-step guide to growing 15 most common herbs, such as dill, lemon grass mint, basil, cilantro, winter savory, and bay laurel. The intention of the book is to help home owners achieve a more interesting and aromatic addition to their garden, as well as their shelves.

McCormick says fresh herbs will not taste better than the ones sold in groceries, which cost about $2 a pack. But they are definitely much more affordable, and the fact that they grow in people’s backyards adds to the thrill and experience of gardening.

Moreover, McCormick discusses the herbs’ living adaptability and favorable harvesting practices.

Adaptability to Environment

According to McCormick, herbs usually grow in warm and sunny places, which is why they are commonly found in rocky hillsides and tropical areas, especially during summer.

McCormick adds that while some herbs are easy to grow from seeds, it is more advisable to begin with potted herbs that are sold everywhere. She suggests looking in garden centers and produce aisles at the supermarket, and setting them out during the hottest times of the day, otherwise they will have less chances of maturing.

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Some herbs are especially adaptive and resilient to harsh weather conditions, such as sweet marjoram, chives, basil and thyme.

Harvesting Practice

McCormick says that the gardeners can expect a most flavorful harvest at the first cycle. Eventually, herbs lose their fragrance and flavor through the evaporation of their essential oils.

The basic rule for harvesting is to take just enough so as not to remove all the leaves and cut off its food supply, which is as good as killing it. “When you’re harvesting an herb, you don’t want to take off more than a third – at most half – of the total leaves,” says McCormick. “And this assumes that you have indeed let it grow larger than when you (bought) it.”

But it is recommended to clip the leaves every now and then. McCormick says that this will delay the flowering, which marks the end of the herb’s cycle. Another advisable harvesting practice is using sharp clippers to avoid hurting the stems.