We all know that "Herbs are weeds" but you must admit that they are the most attractive looking and tastiest of weeds you will ever come across, and that is why gardeners as well as culinary cooks love them.
Most of the time when you think of herbs you think of Rosemary, Thyme, Dill and Parsley. These are all well know and popular herbs that we all love. However for gardeners who want to expand their boundaries as well as their palates there are mystery herbs that have pizzazz, vibrant taste and are easy to grow.
So lets take a look outside the basic herbal box and introduce you to some plants that grow beautifully in garden planter pots as well as soil.
Borage - look weird but tastes like cucumber. This underappreciated annual herb is a gem. It prefers warm temps, so direct-sow the seed or place transplants into the garden when nighttime temperatures are consistently above 50 degrees. Once this is planted you will never have to plant it again-unless you move it.
Use: Use the new leaves and flowers, which have a delicate cucumber flavor, as a garnish in salads, drinks or froze ice cubes.
Garlic chives - pack a pungent punch. With their flat, wide leaves, garlic chives are slow to emerge in spring. They have a wonderful garlic flavor, great green color, and showy white flowers that look stunning in a garden planter. The cut flowers hold well in a vase bouquets. Buy this herb as a transplant, or because it divides easily, encourage a friend who has it to give you a hunk.
Use: Chop the leaves and use fresh or dried in soups, salads, and marinades to add some garlicky onion flavor. The flowers make a great garnish.
Stevia - the sweetest herb of all. The leaves of this plant are sweeter than sugar. Because it loves warm weather, it must be planted when temps are 50 degrees or above. Be sure to cut off the white flowers to encourage this herb to make more sweet leaves. You can plant directly into a garden pot and then bring it indoors when it gets cold.
Uses: Steep the foliage in water, then freeze the strained liquid in ice cube trays to use in tea or lemonade. The leaves can be dried, as well as added to a brewing pot of tea or coffee.
Here are some great ideas: Infusion: 1 C water
4 stems stevia
Bring the water to boil, add stevia leaves, allow to steep until cool. Strain, and refigerate for up to 5 days or freeze to use later.
Another fun idea: Mix the infusion (above) to taste with unsweetened tea or lemonade. Serve over ice, and garnish with a sprig.