herb varieties for 2017
• Open-pollinated, unless otherwise noted with “F-1 hybrid.”
• Annual, unless otherwise marked “P” for Perennial or “SSA” for Self Sowing Annual
• Days to maturity are from transplant. (This means start counting when you put the plant in the ground. Take these numbers with a grain of salt; there are a lot of variables to take into consideration.)
Size pot available:
3” = 3” round Cowpot
4" = 4" square Cowpot
Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)
Native to the Midwest, its flowers will draw in bees, butterflies and beneficial insects, and the sweet licorice scent will draw you in. Culinary and medicinal uses, will resow. This perennial can reach 3 ft tall and 2 ft wide and is hardy to Zone 4.
Ocimum basilicum, unless otherwise noted.
65 days. 3”
Downy mildew has become a big problem for basil in recent years. Many of the common sweet basils are susceptible, and if you’ve seen yellowy patches, followed by fuzzy (“downy”) growth on the undersides of leaves followed by dead basil... this is what was likely going on. Eleonora has done well for me as a somewhat resistant variety that’s also a great flavored pesto-type basil.
70 days. 3”
The classic Italian variety for pesto connoisseurs. Slightly smaller, but more potent leaves.
100 days. 3”
Ocimum sanctum. Also known as ‘tulsi.’ Has a spicy mint/clove/anise scent. Used historically in Ayurveda to “counter life’s stresses.” You might consider this medicinal plant for treating anxiety and stress or for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. (As always, consult your herbalist or doctor.)
Mrs. Burns Lemon
64 days. 3”
Intense lemony fragrance. This is an heirloom variety, hailing from New Mexico and first popularized by Native Seeds/Search.
78 days. 3”
Beautifully ornamental dark purple-bronze leaves - try mixing it in a bouquet of cut flowers for impact and scent. But don’t be afraid to eat it, either! Makes a striking garnish for heirloom tomatoes.
60 days. 3”
A distinctive licorice/anise scent. Fine leaves with purple stems, seed heads and flowers. Grows to 12-18” tall. Indispensable for Thai food or atop a steaming bowl of pho.
65 days. 3”
Traditional anise fennel flavor and scent, but grown mostly for its intriguing feathery maroon foliage. Makes a striking garnish or addition to your flower beds.
Chamomile Bodegold (Matricaria recutita)
SSA. 65 days. 3”.
An upright, higher yielding chamomile. Commonly used in herbal teas as a sleep aide and to calm the nerves. Harvest the daisy-like flowers when the petals fall back from the center.
Chives (Allium shoenoprasum)
P. 80 days. 4”
Seed from Ridge & Hollow Seed Alliance. A grass-like herb with delicate onion-y flavor. Lavender flowers are edible. Hardy to zone 3, a tough plant that should be divided every few years.
Cilantro Large Leaf
Seeds from Ridge & Hollow Seed Alliance. Cilantro’s a tricky one. It likes to bolt (go to seed) especially in hot weather. If you’d like a steady supply, you need to keep re-planting. If you hate cilantro, never mind, you have a genetic trait that truly makes it taste like soap. If you love it, eat up, because it’s super healthy, even chelating heavy metal toxins in your body.
Seeds from Ridge & Hollow Seed Alliance. Harvest the foliage (dill weed) before the seed stalks mature for the best flavor. But to attract beneficial insects, let it go to flower! The flowerheads are also perfect for pickles.
50 days. 3”
Traditionally used in Mexican cooking, a little goes a long way. Use fresh or dried for the pungent yet minty flavor that is associated with bean dishes.
Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum)
Seeds from Ridge & Hollow Seed Alliance. Also known as Chinese chives or Chinese leeks. Flat leaves with a distinct garlic flavor and edible white flowers that bloom in late summer and fall. Once established, it will grow bigger each year. Harvest to 2 - 3 inches above the ground and it will regrow quickly. May not flower the first year if all foliage is harvested frequently. Hardy to zone 4.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
P (also self sows). 3”.
Smells wonderful in the garden and adds a lovely lemon note to herbal teas. Harvest the leaves for various purposes before the plant goes to flower, but its flowers are also edible and attract bees. (Hence the name ‘Melissa’ - Greek for honeybee.)
Lemongrass - East Indian (Cymbopogon flexuosus)
Native to southeast Asia, lemongrass is perennial in zones 9 - 11, but not here in Ohio. You can savor its haunting citrusy scent all summer long and then bring it inside for the winter. An actual grass, it can grow quite a bit in one season, reaching 3 - 4 feet tall. Wear gloves and long sleeves to harvest the stalks by division at the base, or cut the tops for herbal tea. Here’s a great little 3 minute primer on how to use it in the kitchen.
Lovage (Levisticum officinale)
Underappreciated, this multipurpose herb has leaves that taste like celery. Use the young leaves in salads, soups, poultry and potato dishes. You can also use the seeds to flavor baked goods. Also a striking plant that reaches 3 - 6 ft tall and produces umbel-shaped flowers that attract beneficial insects. Hardy to zone 4.
Mad Dog Skullcap (Scuttelaria lateriflora)
Also called ‘Virginia Skullcap,’ this spreading perennial is a native used in herbal medicine. The name? Its historic use as a folk remedy for rabies. Hardy to zone 4.
Oregano Greek (Origanum vulgare hirtum)
The classic herb for Italian and Greek cuisine. Hardy to zone 4.
Parsley Gigante d’Italia
70 days. 3”
A flat-leaved variety hailing form northern Italy with a rich, sweet flavor.
Red Shiso (Perilla frutescens)
85 days. 3”.
Used in Japanese cuisine and Chinese medicine, shiso has a distinctive spicy cinnamon/clove flavor. The red variety is what give umeboshi plums their intense color. Try it fresh to add a unique zest to salads or in stir-fries or sushi.
Rhubarb Glaskin’s Perpetual (Rheum rhabarbarum)
A red-stemmed variety that is named after its tendency to produce throughout the season. A reliable English heirloom variety, reputedly with a lower oxalic acid level.
Rhubarb Red Italian (Rheum rhabarbarum)
‘Rabarbaro’ from Seeds of Italy.
Rhubarb Victoria (Rheum rhabarbarum)
A fast-growing green-stemmed variety, excellent for pie. Another English heirloom variety, named in honor of Queen Victoria.
Sage Broadleaf (Salvia officinalis)
The familiar culinary sage, with fuzzy grey-green leaves. Perennial, hardy to zone 4, but you may want to replace it every few years as the plant grows woody with age.
Sorrel Broad Leaved (Rumex acetosa)
A lemony-flavored perennial green that’s a spring delicacy. Favored in French cuisine in soups, sauces and salads. Prefers light shade and cool weather. Keep cutting to keep it in production, or, if it goes to seed, cut back the whole plant and let it regrow. Hardy to zone 4.
Sorrel Red Veined (Rumex sanguineus)
Also known as Bloody Dock. While largely grown as an ornamental, it is beautiful and edible with the same lemon flavor as French Sorrel. (Though you should exercise caution if you have a condition making you sensitive to oxalic acid.) Dark maroon stems and veins add striking color and lemon-y zest to your salad. Harvest in spring when the leaves are young. Self sows and prefers moist soils. Hardy to zone 6, maybe even 4 or 5.
Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana)
You don’t have to buy the white powder; you can grow your own! The leaves can be used fresh or dried to sweeten beverages. Reported to be hundreds of times sweeter than sugar and to inhibit tooth decay. Grows to a bushy 2 ft.
Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)
If you’ve had accidental encounters with this plant, you might wonder why you would want it in your garden. But handled carefully, it has many uses. Nettle is one of the first spring greens, used as a cooked green and in soups, and its ability to take up minerals makes it very nutritious as well as useful as a fertilizer, especially in biodynamic gardening methods.
Lends a peppery flavor to beans, stuffings and other savory dishes. Harvest often before its lavender flowers appear.
Thyme German (Thymus vulgaris)
A creeping, mat-forming perennial hardy to zone 4. A standard in the kitchen, it also has lavender flowers that attract bees.
Thyme Orange (Thymus fragrantissimus)
With a sweeter, citrusy aroma. Try it with fish or as an accent in sweet dishes. Tender perennial in zones 6 - 8.
Tobacco Hopi (Nicotiana rustica)
From the American Southwest, a preferred strain for smoking tobacco. Seed from Strictly Medicinals - see their website for curing instructions.
Za’atar (Origanum syriacum)
A delicious oregano that is a necessary ingredient to the Middle Eastern spice blend of the same name. An addicting topping for flatbreads or sweet potato fries, make your own za’atar seasoning with this herb, sumac, toasted sesame seeds and sea salt.