Packet Annual Flowers
Packet Perennial Flowers
SPICE UP YOUR LIFE
Since early times man has used herbs to improve his way of life. Herbs were used to make his food more palatable, make him feel better, and to sweeten his surroundings. Traditions have carried down and today herbs are still an important part of our way of life. Herbs were brought to the new world by our ancestors who treasured them by collecting their seed and guarding the precious cuttings on the long journey to their new home. Not a day passes that you do not encounter these herbs: a spring of parsley on your plate, or that spicy flavor of basil, marjoram, and oregano in a dish of spaghetti. Memories of the sweet smell of thyme burning as incense and the smell of turkey stuffed with a sage dressing at Grandma’s house makes the holiday season a memory that lasts a lifetime. Along with the smells and flavors we expect, herbs enhance our surroundings with showy forms of green, grey and blue-green foliage bearing delicate blooms in hues of blue and white. So be creative and spice up your life. The only limit is your imagination.
In the early days man collected herbs in the wild. In Alaska both chives and chamomile are common in the wild but today it is more convenient to grow our herbs in the window sill and garden where we can enjoy their use each day. Most varieties of herbs germinate quickly and are easy to grow from seed. Parsley is one that is a little slow to germinate, so start it earlier than the rest. Herbs are annual, biannual, or perennial, but except for chives all are treated as annuals in Alaska. Due to Alaska’s shortened growing season herbs should be started indoors so they will mature before the fall frosts arrive. Herbs grow well when started from seed in a sunny window sill as they like the higher temperatures found in the house. When seeding indoors use a sandy, well-drained, sterilized potting soil to prevent the fungus disease, damp-off. Keep the newly seeded bed moist but not wet. When the danger of frost is past transplant to the garden. Choose a location for your herb garden that is close to the kitchen so it is convenient to take full advantage of the fresh zesty flavorings when preparing a meal. A herb garden along the walkway at the kitchen door is very attractive as well as convenient. Herbs are noted for their unusual foliage colors which ranges from grey to blue-green and numerous shades of green. Most herbs are native to hot dry regions so naturally they prefer a sandy well-drained garden soil. They are also sun-loving plants, and should be planted in an area that receives full sun at least half the day. Herbs, like most garden plants, prefer a soil just slightly acidic to neutral, so soils heavy to peat as found in the Anchorage area should be tested to see if lime is needed. Herbs are not demanding and need only an occasional watering and little fertilizer. If you over fertilize they will become leggy and straggly. If this happens prune the tips back to keep the plants compact. To feed container-grown herbs water with a liquid solution of plant food every six weeks to two months. Garden-grown herbs should be fertilized with 1-2 pounds of 8-32-16 or a like fertilizer, once a year or give them an annual application of bone meal.
Common Herbs and Uses