Before or after you pick up your share under the pavilion, take a few minutes to explore the Culinary Herb Garden, located between the greenhouse and the farm fields. Sara, our herb gardener and volunteer coordinator, will be sharing information throughout the season on how to harvest the many herb varieties we grow and how to use them to enhance your meals.
In general, the herbs in the culinary 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. All of the herbs in the garden are labelled. Any herb ready for harvest will have a gold star placed next to the sign to indicate that it is ready to be picked.
Please only harvest where you see the stars! Whether herbs are ready for harvest depends on a variety of factors and each herb will have its chance during the season.
The perennial herbs that are ready to pick this week include lovage, marjoram, oregano, thyme, garlic chives, winter savory and the low sage sage in front of the savory. The warm spring has provided us with early bounty!
- Lovage is an excellent accompaniment to soups and stews. A little goes a long way, and it freezes well for future use.
- Marjoram has a scent and flavor similar to oregano and can be used as a milder substitute. Marjoram aids in digestion. It can also help protect against common illnesses, reduce inflammation and relieve stress. Try it fresh or dried in soups, sauces, salads and stews.
- Oregano has a strong aroma like sage and thyme, with a warm pungent taste. This herb has strong antiseptic properties and is a highly potent antibiotic.
- Thyme has a piney and peppery taste with slightly lemony and minty notes. It is frequently used in Mediterranean dishes and pairs perfectly with fish, chicken, beans, tomatoes, lemons and wine. Thyme has been long known for its antiseptic properties and can relieve head and chest congestion. It has been used as a gargle to relieve sore throats and mouth ulcers.
Winter Savory The winter variety is less sweet and has a more earthy flavor than its summer counterpart. Fresh or dried savory is used in cooking to flavor vinegar, butter, beans, salad, soup and tea. It can also help relieve indigestion and other digestive upsets.
Sage is a favorite culinary herb. It’s name comes from the Latin, “to be saved.” It’s excellent with meats, cheese, poultry (including stuffing for turkey) and vegetables. It’s especially delicious with winter squash. Medicinally, sage can relieve coughs, sore throats and digestive issues, and it makes a calming tonic to relieve muscle tension. For the low sage, you can pinch back the top cluster of leaves.
Garlic chives are similar to chives but with a garlicky flavor. Use in place of parsley or any other herb in cooking. Cut stems one third of the way from the top of the plant, as if you’re giving the plant a haircut.
Herb Harvesting Guidelines
As when harvesting any plant, picking herbs requires care in order to preserve them and enable them to continue to grow. Follow these instructions to harvest your herbs while ensuring the plants remain strong and keep growing through the entire season.
- Please always use scissors to cut a small amount from each of several different plants. Bring your own pair!
- Snip individual stems no more than 1/3 of the way toward the bottom of the plant. Think of harvesting as giving the herbs a trim so you are always leaving plenty of the plant behind to keep it healthy.
- Never pull or tug at herb plants with your hands; you might pull out the roots with the stem and prevent the herb from growing more leaves.
- For the marjoram and oregano, please be mindful at this time to trim the tops several inches down to keep the herbs from flowering. We want to avoid these herbs in particular from going to flower so early in the season!
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. Please be mindful as you harvest and always supervise your children very closely in the gardens.
If you ever need assistance or are unsure about how to pick a herb, please ask a farm staff member for help. If you ever have questions or comments about the herbs or would like to help out in the garden, please feel free to get in touch with Sara at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to to meeting you in the Culinary Herb Garden!