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The BlueSmoke Gazette--Plant An Herb Garden!
June 04, 2009

Plant an Herb Garden

If you want your smoked and grilled foods...let me rephrase that. If you want ALL your foods to taste their best, using fresh herbs is almost always the way to go. But they can be expensive at the grocery store. One little bitty package can cost around $3.00, and if you are using a variety of herbs to season a meal, the total cost rises dramatically. So why not grow your own herbs?

Herbs can be grown directly in the ground, and if planned well provide a great looking edible accent to your landscape, maybe tucked away in that sunny corner. But if you're lazy, like me, and prefer to take as few steps as possible, grow your fresh herbs in pots on a sunny porch.

There are several benefits to growing your herbs in pots.
  • They're close. If you're in a hurry or it's raining outside, you're much more likely to grab some stale dry herbs than tromp outdoors to pick 'em fresh. But grown on a porch or in a sunny window, picking fresh herbs is quick and painless.

  • They look good no matter where they are. Whether they're in plain clay pots, fancy glazed planters, or decorative plastic containers, they add visual interest. Your porch looks better (large pots can hide those knotholes in the siding), and you can even bring them inside, placing one or two in the kitchen. If you do this, and your kitchen doesn't have a sunny window, rotate them from the porch to the kitchen and back for a couple days at a time. That way they'll get plenty of the sunshine they require.

  • They are less expensive. Upfront it will seem like a lot, especially if you are buying the pots. The first time I planted my porch herb garden, pots, soil, plants and seeds came to about $100. But that was less than buying one package of fresh herbs a week over the course of a year.

  • You'll have loads of fresh herbs. You'll have fresh herbs to share. You can even dry some of them if they grow faster than you can use them.

  • You'll become more creative in the kitchen, and the foods you cook will have more personality. With all those fresh herbs at hand, you'll be coming up will all sorts of interesting dishes.

  • Many herbs are perennials, meaning they live for several years. In extreme climates, many of the perennials won't survive winter cold. These can be brought indoors over the winter, and hopefully, if everything goes right, will be alive and kickin' in the Spring, ready to supply another season's worth of fresh herbage.

  • It's therapeutic. Well, at least kinda fun. Watching your herbs grow, and actually eating something you grow yourself gives a person a great feeling of satisfaction.

Planting Herbs In Pots

Here's the planting method I used, step-by-step, with pictures to boot!

Here's everything I used to get the herb garden started. Potting soil mixes -- I had two, one regular and one that retains moisture, which allows less frequent watering -- a clay pot with saucer, fertilizer, my sage plant, a watering can, scissors, and something to cover the drain hole in the bottom of the pot, while still allowing free drainage.

I didn't say this was going to be pretty. I don't know how to darn socks, so I find something else to do with the ones that get ventilated.

Fresh Herb Recipes & Info

Rosemary Chicken Breasts
With this recipe, chicken breasts are marinated in an easy-to-make homemade Alabama white bbq sauce that's been spiked with fresh rosemary.

Lemon Rosemary Salmon
Fresh rosemary and fresh sage are two of the ingredients in this recipe. Slices of lemon and butter complete the ingredient list for this cooked-in-foil dish.

Herb Marinated Smoked Shrimp
Shrimp are marinated with the flavors of basil and thyme, then cooked in the smoker.

More Information

My Favorite Smoker Thermometer
The Maverick ET-73 provides a dual readout on its display. You can see the internal temperature of the food you're cooking, along with the actual temperature of the smoke chamber. For the most accurate and successful smoker cooking, you need one of these.

Weber Kettle Grills
You probably already have one or two of these, but if you don't, take a look and see what you are missing.

Bradley Electric Smoker
Once you get your Bradley smoker going, you can leave it to do its own thing. Like Ron Popeil says about his Showtime rotisserie, "Just set it and forget it!"

Other Stuff

Brining Chicken

Brisket Mop Sauce

The Charcoal Chimney

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