A Year in the Life of a Community Garden Plot
All information provided here is obtained from trial and error as well as the successes of local community gardeners, various internet resources, and information provided through our local University of Maryland Extension Grow it Eat it Program. Any other references used in this guide are noted below. Please select the picture of the vegetable you are interested in, the name and information link (if available) will be displayed to provide you with more information.
What is that delicate aroma? Why do these pests always show up on my vegetables? My garden is so bland to the senses, what can I do? As a community gardener, I’m sure you’ve asked yourself these questions, and others, a time or two. Below is a list of herbs that are grown in our community gardens. The data gathered on herbs for your community garden plot has shown both anecdotal and scientific evidence to have beneficial effects on other vegetable plants grown in their near vicinity.
Basil has over 10 varieties and sub-species of basil that produce aromatic leaves that smell anywhere from sweet to pungent, licorice to lemony, spicy to balmy. Basil can be grown in near vicinity to tomato plants where the plant will help to deter mosquitoes and flies. Basil prefers to have a sunny location, in soil that retains moisture and is rich in organic matter. Use the variety of basil to enrich tomato dishes, sauces, soups and salads.
Chives are a clumping herb, and while they are related to onions, most gardeners insist they have a very mild garlic taste also. Chives enliven any vegetable, casserole, or salad dressing/dip recipe. Chives are useful when planted in the same vicinity as carrots, as their pungent odor helps to repel carrot root flies. Chives should be planted in moist organic rich soil. Chives should be picked while green and between 4” to 6” in length.
Coriander or Cilantro leaves, stems, and roots are all usable in cooking, but the leaves and seeds are most predominantly used by community gardeners. When allowed to flower, coriander petals may attract beneficial hover-flies whose larvae will help to control aphids in lettuce patches. Coriander is used in a variety of salsa dishes, Asian dishes, and curry pastes.
Fennel can be grown as just a feathery herb plant and for its edible bulb. Fennel is a natural sweetener when grown in well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Most gardeners prefer to plant fennel away from other vegetable cultivars; while no studies exist that prove fennel has negative affects with near planting, folk lore suggests that fennel should be planted at least 8 to 12 inches away from other cultivars Take cuttings from the top few inches of the fennel plant for Mediterranean and tomato dishes, soups, and to flavor confections.
Lavenders flourish best in dry, well-drained, sandy or gravelly soils in full sun. The many varieties need little or no fertilizer, but require good air circulation. In areas of high humidity, root rot due to fungus infection can be a problem. Do not mulch, organic mulches can trap moisture around the plants’ bases, encouraging root rot.
Lavender flowers can be dried and blended with black, green, or other herbal teas for a different taste and aroma. Lavender flowers can also be candied to be used with cake or other sweet recipes. Overall lavender flowers lend a floral and slight sweet flavor to most dishes and pairs well with feta style cheeses.
Oregano is an herb that resembles Marjoram, and frequently gardeners tend to grow both together without even knowing. The major difference between the two herbs though is that Oregano tends to be a bit more on the wild side with a kick; while Marjoram has a more mild and delicate flavor. Both are great additions to be grown near any vegetable, preferring though to be planted in sandy loam, well-drained soil. Oregano should be used in Italian dishes with tomato, summer squash and potatoes. Marjoram should be used to complement dishes that are bean and mushroom based.
Dill and Dill Seed are used by community gardeners in the preservation of cucumbers, beets, and other vegetables grown throughout the gardening season. Dill may also be used to flavor potatoes, breads, and many vegetables; like peas and asparagus. Dill can be planted near cucumbers and beets as well as other vegetables that may be pickled that grow in soil rich in organics but well-drained. Keep dill away from carrots however!
Parsley is often overlooked as an herb that is only useful as a garnishment for salads. Community gardeners in the know however, use parsley in soups and sauces as parsley lessens the need for salt as an ingredient. Parsley should be planted in rich, loamy, but well-drained soil near tomato, corn, and asparagus plants.
Rosemary is a hardy evergreen type woody herb that is actually part of the mint family. Rosemary has proven itself as a great companion plant for cabbage, beans, peas and carrots by helping to deter cabbage moths, bean beetles, and carrot flies. Rosemary plants prefer a soil that is sandy and well drained; ensure that there is adequate spacing between plants to help with air circulation. Rosemary may be used in soup, stew and breads. Rosemary also pairs well with lemon or orange based citrus dishes.
Sage plants prefer a soil that is well-drained and has abundant sunshine. Sage plants are considered to be very drought tolerant and require infrequent watering. Sage should be planted near cabbage plants and carrots as the aroma deters cabbage moths and carrot flies. Sage is a great companion to bean and pea dishes. Soups and stuffing dishes benefit greatly by adding sage for flavoring also.
Thyme is the one herb that everyone should keep in a bottle… or at least near their cabbage plants as thyme has been shown to deter cabbage worms. Thyme should be planted and propagated in dry, well-drained soil. Thyme makes a great culinary and medicinal herb that combines well with casseroles, soups, stews, potatoes and other green vegetables.
Do you have a preferred herb that is not mentioned here? Does your knowledge and experience tower over those folks on wiki? If so, please contact us at the link above and let us know. We will review and publish your herb giving you full credit! A picture of the herb growing in your garden is a bonus!
Source data for the Havre de Grace Green Team Herb Gardening Page was compiled from our own community gardens and from other web sources listed below.