Wouldn't you love to have the wonderful flavor and gorgeous color of fresh herbs when you're making a scrumptious cheesy or vegetable filled omelet for breakfast? Or how about some amazing tangy cilantro to go in your fresh salsa, or to top your nachos? Of course I love that too, but have you had problems, like me, keeping your "fresh-cut" herbs from the produce section of the grocery, just that, FRESH?
My favorite herb to use has to be fresh cilantro. I love including it in most all of my Southwestern style recipes. The only problem is, unless I use it fairly quickly after purchasing, it spoils, and there goes my hard earned cash. 😛
So recently, my parents were up staying with us while my dad was receiving chemotherapy locally, and my dad took the kids and I to a sort of farmer's market that he used to like when he lived in the area. There I found a bunch of fresh herbs to buy, that I could continuing growing myself.
If you don't have the option of a farmer's market, most grocery produce sections also sell potted herbs.
Since I had seen beautifully colored/painted mason jars all over online, and I knew instantly what I wanted to use for my newly purchased herbs.
So at this same market, I picked some up really cheap old mason jars, and brought my treasures home.
The herbs that I chose were cilantro, of course, Italian oregano, parsley and rosemary.
I had some organic potting soil leftover from last summer, and some glass marbles left over from another project, so I saved some cash there. Yay!
I put a handful of marbles in the bottom of each jar, so if I over-watered, the excess would go down to the bottom. Then I topped the marbles with some potting soil, and planted my new fresh herbs.
I used general craft paint to paint the jars. There was no priming or fussing here, and that's why I painted them AFTER I did the planting, so I wouldn't mess up my quick paint job.
I just used a sponge brush, and about a Tablespoon of paint for each jar. I only put one coat on, because I like the "streaky sort of transparent" look.
After the paint dried I took burlap twine and wrapped it several times around the tops of the jars, and tied it in a pretty bow...just for some extra decor!
Here's what my little herb project looked like when I was done. Aren't they cute?
I did a little research on how to keep my new plants alive and well, and here is what I learned:
I've read that it's very important not to over-water herbs, and that they need lots of sunlight. Mine have started "reaching" for the sun, so I've had to turn them periodically.
Also, when you're watering, water the soil and avoid pouring the water on the leaves of the plant.
Here are a couple of articles I read on pruning your herbs to keep them in good shape:
What I took away from the articles about pruning and harvesting herbs is this:
- Wait till you have at least 3 sets of leaves, and cut above
- Don't trim back more than 1/3 of the plant
- When harvesting for a recipe, use the top newer leaves
For more details check out the above links.
After harvesting your fresh herbs, they need to be washed before you use them, and this article from Food Network is helpful. It says to put them in a bowl of cold water and stir them to get the dirt off. Then let the dirt settle to the bottom. You may need to do this a few times with clean water to make sure all the dirt is off, and then lay them out on a clean towel to dry.
This article says you can rinse them off well under cold running water, just don't set them down in the bottom of your sink, since it can be a "germy" place.
They look adorable on my window sill, and since I don't have little "kidlets" anymore, I don't have to worry about them getting knocked over or eaten...or something. 😛
I am so excited to be able to use super fresh herbs in my recipes...especially the cilantro, yum, and it's a good way to save some money. If you have lots of extra fresh herb cuttings, after washing and patting them dry, you can even freeze them in a ziplock bag to use later!
Growing herbs can also be a learning experience for the kiddos!
If you enjoy fresh herbs, don't be afraid to try this fun, pretty and very useful project!