I confess, I can be an herb-complacent gardener. I almost always have a few patio planters with parsley, chives and cilantro growing, but truth be told, I’m not very herb adventurous. I tend to focus on the pretty herbs, not necessarily the yummy ones. Variegated oregano, lemon thymes and pineapple verbena seem to work their way into my containers filled with petunias and geraniums. I’m a sucker for a variegated leaf! And if further truth telling is necessary, I’ll admit that I’m always envious that my mom’s kitchen smells like the most delicious aroma-therapy spa treatment ever. After every visit to her kitchen all I want to do is run home and pulse aromatic things in my food-processor. Her kitchen aromas have inspired me to design both a pretty and yummy herb planter!
This Italian Herb Combination will be available as both a Make a Masterpiece Kit (where we give you the pot, soil, fertilizer and plants and you grow it) or as a ready to start cooking finished planter! We also offer all of these herbs individually. The new basils are going to be limited this spring so if you want one, let us know early!
Basil can be finicky, parsley is just oh so boring and mint is such a thug that by August it’s all I ever have left in no matter what combination I use it in. But, my love of my mothers kitchen fragrances and all things Italian have me seeing green, green foliage that is. While working on the combinations I wanted to do for our new Make A Masterpiece Grow Kits, I knew I wanted to offer an herb planter too. Italian herbs seemed like the most tasty combination so basil, oregano, rosemary and thyme were obvious, but because we are plant geeks I couldn’t stop there! I added some variegated foliage and found the newest and most unfincky basil available.
What could be a better way to enhance the flavor of your favorite home-cooked Italian recipes than to add your own grown fresh herbs to them! Store-bought Italian seasoning blends typically contain at least some combination of oregano, rosemary, thyme and basil. Here’s our Italian Herb planter in all it’s glory!
Basil Rutgers Devotion DMR
Few herbs have such an easily identifiable flavor and aroma as basil. There is something about the pairing of a fresh, vine ripe tomato and basil. I know you can taste it just from the description here! But basil plants are finicky! Too cold, too wet, too shady….it’s hard to believe basil is in the mint family (fun fact, it is!). What’s a hungry gardener to do? No worries there, the plant scientists at Rutgers spent a decade evaluating and breeding tasty, downy mildew resistant basils (non GMO). In 2019 4 new varieties were introduced and we’ve picked the Devotion variety for this planter. Devotion is a Genovese (large leaf) type basil.
Basil Amethyst Genovese
You just knew I was going to add a pretty basil in this combination! Amethyst is the only purple Genovese (large leaf) basil cultivar available. Purple basil plants don’t really have a tremendously different flavor than green, but the color is wonderful in salads and caprese. Although the flavor is almost identical to any other sweet basil, the purple/black color prevents it from being cooked or in pesto.
Oregano Hot & Spicy
This is one spicy Oregano! The sprawling plant produces strongly flavored leaves that can be used to add an unforgettable taste to sauces, salsa and chili. This Greek Oregano is an essential part of the strong and bright flavors of Greek and Southern Italian cooking. My mom uses small snips of this peppery herb in her Greek salads with feta cheese. In cooked dishes, add the herb at the last moment to retain its full flavor. The flavor is strongest just before the plant flowers in late Summer – but if you harvest throughout the season you can delay flowering and that will also encourage bushiness.
You can use the leaves fresh, or dry and keep in an airtight container. The leaves dry easily and are great on pizza and in breads. I’ve also frozen some with olive oil or water in ice cube trays to be able to use in recipes during the winter.
You had to see this one coming! With gray, white and green variegated foliage, this variety has a lot to love! Many people don’t think of this variegated form of Oregano as edible, but it certainly is! The fragrant oval green leaves with distinctive creamy white edges. I usually harvest from late spring to mid summer for the best flavor. The leaves have a spicy taste and a distinctive fragrance.
This Rosemary gets it’s name not from it’s flavor but from the stiffness of its stems – strong enough to use as BBQ skewers! This is a particularly aromatic selection that can be used in all manner of cooking. Rosemary is a fabulous aromatic herb and it has many culinary uses. I think a pot of rosemary belongs in every kitchen garden, veggie plot and herb garden so it’s no surprise I’ve added one to this combination!
Lemon Variegated Thyme
As beautiful as it is delicious! This fabulous variegated thyme boasts a strong lemony scent & flavor. Perfect for seasoning fish, livening up a salad, or making a delicious tea, it’s recipe uses are endless! I love the tiny, bright-green leaves that are edged in a golden yellow ring. The fragrant pink flowers that emerge in Summer to attract bees & butterflies are a welcome bonus!
This Make a Masterpiece project will be available April 17th to the 25th. You can reserve your project online or by calling us at the store 978-342-3770. Quantities are limited so reserve early! The finished combinations that we are growing in our greenhouses should be available starting in early May.
Warmer weather is just around the corner (hopefully)!
All our best!
Michelle and the Plant Geeks at Lakeview!