Growing Herbs for Holiday Cooking

This is the time of the year to think about all the things we are thankful for. The ability to have friends and family gather together and everyone being healthy is at the top of the list. Smelling the different aromas coming from the kitchen fills me with anticipation. The fragrances of a turkey, stuffing, and corn casserole are intoxicating, paired with the right herbs and spices make it absolutely divine. The best way to make your guests drool at the dinner table is to pair the right herbs with the right meats.

Here are some of the herbs we can grow in our garden to make your dishes fit for a King. Fresh herbs have a more distinct flavor than those that are dried. Try growing these in your kitchen garden and use them in your cooking.

The Herbs
A bundle of thyme.
You can find thyme in many different flavors, including original, lemon and orangelo.

Thyme has an earthy to slightly lemony flavor. It pairs well with eggs, game meat, lamb, poultry, fish soups, and mushrooms. This is a great herb for many savory dishes. Grow this herb in full sun in well-draining soil. You can start it from seeds or as a transplant. Use fresh or cut the stems when it flowers. To preserve for later use place it on some newspaper and let it completely dry. Remove the leaves and flowers from the stem and store them in an airtight container.


Rosemary plant
When properly cares for rosemary will thrive and can become a small shrub. Pruning will keep it small.

Rosemary is very aromatic with a distinct woodsy, sage-like taste. It pairs well with root vegetables, pork, chicken, game meat, and lamb. Rosemary does very well in the Florida home garden or landscape. It will grow year-round and is quite hardy, and needs a sunny well-drained area and handles neglect well. If you need a ground cover, some varieties grow low and can cover an area (look for the variety Prostrates’). Use the tender non-wood branches and leaves fresh, or you can dry and store it in an airtight container as well. Try using the woody branches as skewers.


Variegated Sage
Variegated sage can add some color variation to your garden or landscape.

Sage a very strong herb with an earthy peppery flavor. This herb is commonly used in stuffing and on poultry. Like thyme and rosemary, this herb is from the Mediterranean. Depending on the variety it can add color from a silvery leaf to a variegated leaf. It is loaded with many different nutrients and compounds such as vitamin K, many different antioxidants, and iron. Use it fresh or dry it for later use.




A row of Garlic plants
Garlic grows just like an onion but can be planted fairly close together.

Garlic is a very pungent and strong herb. If you are like me, I almost use it in almost every dish. Depending on the way you cook it has a different flavor. Cut and used straight it is sharp and pungent, but if you roast it, it has a nutty sweet flavor. There are two types of garlic, hard and soft necks. Only soft neck garlic grows well in Florida like the artichoke and creole varieties. Plant in a well-draining spot and water and fertilize regularly. Harvest when half the leaves bend over. Place the in a well-ventilated semi-bright area (not in direct sunlight) for a few days. To store, place them in a dark, cool, and dry location until you’re ready to cook with them.

Many herbs are used during this time of the year, but these are some of the most popular this time of the year. More herbs will be covered in future blogs. Plant them in your garden or landscape and give them a try in a meal or for the upcoming holidays. They will have a more distinct than those purchased in the store.

What are some herbs you grow in your yard? Leave me a note in the comments below.

For more information on herbs and cooking with herbs :

Herbs in the Florida Garden – Website Designed by UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions
Preserving Herbs and Spices – Website Designed by UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions


Posted: December 10, 2021

Category: HOME LANDSCAPES, Horticulture
Tags: Herbs, Holiday

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