Herb to Plant – Rosemary

05/12/2013

Herb to Plant – Rosemary

 

In planting herb garden, knowing all you can about the herb that you are growing is important to making sure you care for it properly. Finding out the conditions it needs to thrive, when and how to harvest it, and its particular uses can make this hobby much more enjoyable. And for those who like to entertain and show off their gardens, knowing a bit about the history and the folklore surrounding the herb makes for good conversation.

If you are not sure where to start, a good book is certainly a good idea. One such book is “Healthy Happy Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide To Herb and Herb Gardening”. Books like these can help you get started, and teach you how to grow different kinds. More importantly, it can help you avoid the pitfalls and mistakes that frustrate most beginners.

One of the most popular, and easy herb to plant is rosemary. Did you know that this was named Herb of the Year by the International Herb Association in 2000? It is said to be one of the oldest herbs in history. Early records of it dates back to when cuneiform writing on storm tablets were still the norm, which is around 5th millenium B.C. It’s Latin name, rosmarinus, means “dew of the sea” and is associated with the story of the birth of Venus, the Greek goddess of beauty.

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In Christianity, there’s a popular story involving it. In this story, it is believed that its flowers were originally white. It became blue when Mary (mother of Jesus) once placed her coat to dry on a rosemary bush.

Nowadays, it is popularly known as a kitchen herb, used best when flavoring lamb and chicken, and widely used in Mediterranean cooking. Several varieties exists, including Miss Jessup, Tuscan Blue, Spice Island (these three are the ones usually used and recommended for cooking; the plant grows 4 to 6 feet from the ground and have fragrant, large leaves), White, Benenden Blue, Golden Rain and Ingram.

It is actually one of the easiest to grow, requiring little or even no attention at all once firmly established. In fact, fussing over it too much can actually be detrimental to its growth.

It is usually propagated by cuttings, but starting with a nursery-grown plant would be your best bet. Seeds are not recommended to beginners as they have a hard time germinating. A 2-inch cutting from a rosemary plant would be more than enough for you to start. A dry, well-drained soil and about 8 hours of sunlight are all that your rosemary plant needs for it to survive and thrive.

It is better to put rosemary in a container or pot so that during winter, you will be able to easily transfer it indoors. Terra cotta pots are a good choice. When kept indoors during winter, artificial light can substitute for sunlight. But, when the weather permits it, allowing your rosemary it’s quota of sunlight is best.

If the air is humid, then be on the lookout for powdery mildew – a kind of fungus that is white and powdery and thrives in humid environments. While it won’t kill it, it will definitely weaken it. As much as possible, allow the soil to dry in-between waterings. Make sure that there’s enough air to dry excess water (if there’s no breeze, you can bring out an electric fan). And leaving the plant in sunlight will also help dry the soil.

Aphids and spider mites are two more pests that usually attack during winter. They don’t just attack it, but other plants as well. Spray plants with natural or organic insecticides to repel these pests.

Rosemary is a perfect herb as a container plant if you are looking for a low maintenance plant. All it needs is sunshine, air, water and a bit of tender loving care.

If you are serious about cultivating an organic herb garden, be sure to check out “Healthy Happy Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide To Herbs and Herb Gardening” by Jeannie Woods. It’s a book packed with all the information you need to be able to successful start and keep a thriving organic herb garden.

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