Friday, August 3, 2012

Herb Week Day 5: Rosemary (Rosmarinus oficinalis)

Rosemary is almost the perfect plant. It has culinary uses, it is drought tolerant, attracts birds and butterflies, smells great, is deer resistant, has a nice shape and foliage, it can be used in dried arrangements, and it's easy to grow. Sounds close to perfect, right? Not if you're in zone 5 or colder. It's only perennial to zone 6 (so close!). Luckily, since we had such a mild winter, the plant I bought last year did survive, but it's not a guarantee. But then again, nothing is guaranteed in the garden.

The nice thing about rosemary, for those of us in the colder regions, is that it overwinters in a pot in the house quite nicely.
Growing Rosemary
Throughout Herb Week, I've been telling you that these herbs like very well draining soil, and actually like things a little dry. Rosemary is no different. It even looks like a desert plant to me. I grow mine in a raised bed in the potager, mixed with a bunch of other herbs. I love to grab a sprig of it to smell while I'm walking around the garden, and this pinching is helping it grow larger. It loves full sun, although mine does well with some morning shade.

Harvesting Rosemary
Cut stems or individual leaves in the morning, when the plant is said to have the highest concentration of flavor. It can then be stored in a plastic container and refridgerated, frozen, or air dried. Some believe that rosemary has it's best flavor right before flowering. The flowers are also edible.

Enjoying Rosemary
Rosemary is so wonderfully aromatic, that is used in potpourri and aromatherapy. You can release some of it's calming fragrance by placing it into your bathwater. How luxurious! Rosemary has been said to aid in digestion, depression and low moods, and helps relieve cold symptoms when used in tea. But my favorite way to enjoy rosemary is in cooking, especially chicken dishes. Here is a good list of recipes that call for rosemary.

I hope you enjoyed Herb Week as much as I did! Too many times I've grown herbs with hopes of using them to make savory dishes and calming cups of tea, but end up not harvesting anything. This year, I've already dried lots, shared lots, and used lots in food and drinks. I hope these posts have inspired you to take your vegetable garden up a notch by growing herbs!

Catch up on earlier Herb Week posts:
Herb Week Day 1: Lemon Verbena
Herb Week Day 2: Dill
Herb Week Day 3: Mint
Herb Week Day 4: Lemon Thyme

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