We all love the aroma and tastes of fresh cut parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, but sometimes we need to switch it up. There are so many different herbs that can be grown in your own backyard that will add new and exciting flavors to your favorite recipes, so go ahead and explore! We have gathered some information on five of our favorite unique herbs to help you get started:
- Siberian Chives- Giant Siberian Chives can take up to two years to reach full size. Because of this, it may be best to buy starts at your local nursery or ask a friend for a clump of sta nds from an existing plant. Siberian Chives are great in the garden, not only because they produce lovely edible flower heads, but they also repel garden pests such as Japanese beetles. Cut fresh leaves or flower heads and add them directly to your salads. Snipped leaves taste great on top of your baked potato, or mix them into to butter or oil for an exciting flavored spread. Grows best in well-drained soil with full sun exposure.
- Aztec Sweet Herb- This perennial herb has been used for centuries by the Aztecs for its ability to sooth coughs, colds and asthma. The leaves of this uncommon herb contain a compound called hernandulcin which is about 1000 times sweeter than sugar, so the fresh-cut leaves of this herb are great for naturally sweetening teas or can be added to salads for a unique flavor. This particular plant sends out fast growing horizontal runners, so be sure to use a planter if you want to keep it contained. Aztec Sweet Herb likes the sun and will grow best moist soil.
- Ginger Mint- With over one thousand mint varieties out there, Ginger Mint stands apart with its distinctive yellow-striped leaves and unique ginger flavor. This plant does well in partial shade and average to moist soil. As with most mint plants, it can grow uncontrollably through a garden, so it may be best to use a planter for this one. Use fresh cut leaves in marinades, salads or spreads for a unique flavor reminiscent of Thai cuisine, or add to lemonade for a sweet and spicy effect.
- Lemon Verbena- As its name suggests, this fresh and flavorful herb has a lemon-like flavor and aroma that tastes great in herbal teas or marinades. Some people will even use the herb in the place of lemon zest in certain recipes. This plant loves the heat, so unless you live in zone 9 or below, consider keeping it inside when the weather gets chilly. Lemon verbena grows best in moist, rich soil with plenty of sunshine. If you live in areas that are warm and humid, keep your plant in check by cutting it back frequently.
- Lovage- The leaves of this plant have a taste and smell similar to celery, but stronger. Use the leaves to make soups, marinades, infused butters or oils, or add it to leafy salads, potato salads or tea mixes. The root can be eaten on its own or chopped up to be added to your favorite recipe. Lovage has been described as a hardy perennial plant, growing up to 2.5 m tall and grows well in sunny or partially shady spots. Make sure soil is fairly fertile and make sure to use organic fertilizer occasionally to keep your lovage plant robust.
By Jerzy Opioła (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Common
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