Friday, June 13, 2014

Herb Gardening with the Hub

This June, the Hub offered our annual Herb Gardening workshop.  We were thrilled to show off the many herbs on site at MHC, and to offer participants cuttings of oregano, pineapple sage, thyme, and mint, as well as divisions of our comfrey and chive plants to grow at home.  We covered the basics of planting, tending and propagating herbs, as well as discussing the many uses of garden herbs.  Here are some of the highlights from the workshop:

Cooking with Herbs
We started the class with a tasting of pesto pasta, one of our favorite Hub meals using fresh herbs from the garden.  See our pesto recipes here.  We talked about the many delicious uses of herbs we can grow and cook with, and a few participants had attended our recent Pie for Dinner workshop, and were excited to grow Herbs de Provence to bake the Provencal Tart with Gruyere and Herbs.  The Herbs de Provence mix includes basil, fennel seed, lavender, marjoram, rosemary, sage, summer savory, and thyme, all herbs that grow well in our part of Indiana.    

Growing Herbs
Herbs are a great entry point to gardening, and most of the class participants were interested in starting small containers of herbs either on a windowsill or on a porch.  We discussed the basics of container gardening, including offering adequate drainage, sun exposure, and watering.  See our container gardening handout here.  We also discussed the plant families of common herbs, and their growing habits and needs.  We discussed the growing habits of mint family plants in particular, as all the cuttings participants were bringing home were from the mint family.  One tip that was a workshop favorite was to save eggshells and spent coffee grounds to add to herb containers and offer plants a nutrient boost.

Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard Garden Tour
We took a tour around the Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard garden, identifying herbs and talking about their growing needs and uses.  We took a longer look at the MHC Herb Spiral, a permaculture inspired planting design that offers multiple microclimates for herbs.   The Hub garden has a wide variety of herbs, from cooking herbs like rosemary and tarragon to those used medicinally like calendula and comfrey.  Comfrey is one of our favorite herbs at MHC.  We grow it in all 4 of our community gardens and use it as a mulch or ferment it into a fertilizer.  Join us during our open garden volunteer hours to learn more about the Hub’s herbs and their essential role in our community gardens.

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