The Culinary Herb Garden, located between the greenhouse and the fields, is full of flavors to enhance your cooking. Throughout the season, we’ll be sharing information in this column about harvesting and using the many varieties of herbs we grow.

Herbs we’re growing

We’re again cultivating farm favorites—cilantro, dill, parsley and sweet basil—along with three new types of basil: holy, Thai and red. Though we’ve had bad luck in the past several years with downy mildew on basil, we’re trying a new technique with it. We’re hoping for enough basil to be able to give it out in bunches in your share, as well as ongoing pick-your-own, so that you can make your favorite pesto.

In addition, we’re eagerly awaiting the perennial herbs including sage, savory, chervil, marjoram, oregano, thyme, garlic chives, chives, tarragon, lovage, lemon verbena and rosemary. Lemon verbena is in a new bed this year, replacing some of the lovage. We had to remove some chives due to invasive grass, but new herbs are planned for those spaces. Look for some surprises later in the season.

When herbs are ready to pick

Although you may find basil in your share, in general, the herbs in the herb garden are available for you to pick yourself. As with other pick-your-own crops, they can be harvested on the day you pick up, or one day later. Any herb ready for harvest will have a red tie placed at the front of the bed to indicate that it can be picked.

Lovage is among the first herbs ready to harvest. It is excellent in soups and stews. A little goes a long way, and it freezes well for future use.  Garlic chives are also ready to be picked. Chopped, these go well in salads or as a garnish for eggs or dips.  When other herbs are ready will depend on a variety of factors.

How to harvest your herbs

As when harvesting any plant, picking herbs requires care in order to preserve them and enable them to continue to grow. Please always use scissors (we’ll have two pairs on hand, but don’t forget to bring your own) to cut a small amount from different plants. Never pull at them or tug them with your hands; you might pull out the roots with the stem and prevent the herb from growing more leaves. Think of harvesting as “giving the herbs a trim” so you are always leaving plenty of the plant behind to keep it healthy.

The herb garden will be open frequently so you can pick fresh. Please only harvest what you can use in a given week. If you’re hoping to dry your herbs for the winter, pick a little every week so that over time you collect enough while still leaving fresh herbs for everyone to share. If you ever need assistance or are unsure about how to pick a herb please ask a farm staff member for help.

We look forward to to meeting you in the Herb Garden!

—Sara  and Christine