Planting Holiday Herbs for Thanksgiving
From cinnamon and nutmeg spiced drinks to sage-infused roasted turkey, herbs play a central role in holiday cooking, particularly during Thanksgiving! And although the holidays call for different heirloom dishes, most households turn to fresh herbs when it comes to whipping up yummy Thanksgiving dishes.
Imagine if you have access to fresh herbs through your own herb garden, wouldn’t that make every dish even more special?
The good news is, there are so many herbs that can be grown in pots. These herbs are not only terrific additions to the kitchen; they make the perfect centerpieces too! There is absolutely no need for a large yard to build an herb garden! You can simply plant your favorite holiday herbs in small containers and put them on display by the kitchen window. Below are just a few of the many holiday herbs that you can add to your garden just in time for your Thanksgiving feast:
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5 Holiday Herbs to Grow for Thanksgiving
Herb plants come in different varieties, some are temperamental and delicate, others are hardy and resistant to light frost. If you are new to gardening, it makes sense to start out with beginner-friendly holiday herbs! These herbs are not only easy to grow; they require minimal coddling to thrive:
Sweet, savory, and mildly peppery, basil is one of the most popular herbs in the world and it's often used in a variety of cuisines. This herb adds a rich flavor to everyday dishes, including stews, pasta dishes, and sauces. Basil can be grown indoors in the early spring or outdoors after the warning for frost has passed. This herb is quite frost-sensitive and loves the full sun. Keep the soil moist and well drained so basil can grow to its fullest and healthiest!
Oregano brings out the richness in soups, sauces, and stews. It's a great herb to have in your growing herb garden especially if you love cooking Italian and Sicilian dishes. This earthy, aromatic herb is best planted in a warm, sunny spot with light soil. Since oregano could deter destructive insects, planting several oregano plants will be helpful in keeping your garden pest-free. Oregano is best sown as seeds indoors and then transplanted into the garden as seedlings early in the spring season. Use well-drained soil and add high nitrogen fertilizer for best results.
Rosemary is one of the most popular holiday herbs because its aromatic and distinctive aroma goes so well with stews, poultry, and meat dishes! This herb is so easy to grow and once it matures, rosemary is quite hardy. This herb is best planted in a moist, well-drained soil and cool temperatures. Just like most herbs, rosemary loves bright light although it requires protection from direct sunlight. Water your rosemary evenly throughout the growing season to ensure healthy growth. Prune the rosemary regularly to avoid lanky foliage.
Thyme is a woody, low-growing perennial plant that's known for its pungent aroma and clover flavor. There are more than 50 varieties of thyme and all of them are used in cooking! When planted in the ideal growing environment, thyme grows like weeds. However, it's hard to grow thyme from seeds so use cuttings or buy seedlings instead. As the herb grows, water normally and prune gently so the thyme won't get leggy. Regular pruning also helps retain the size of the herb, which tends to spread out when left on its own. Some thyme varieties love the full sun; others are best planted in a partially shady spot.
Rounding up our list of the best holiday herbs to grow for Thanksgiving is sage. This easy-to-grow herb is often used in stews and soups, as well as seasoning to Thanksgiving stuffing. This hardy perennial has a distinct musky, earthy aroma that goes so well with meats and poultry. Culinary sage craves the full sun and loves well-draining soil. It's the kind of herb that needs more room to grow so be sure to set the pots of sage about 2 feet apart from each other. Try planting sage near cabbages, carrots, and rosemary but keep this herb away from cucumbers!
How to Grow Herbs in Containers
Location for the Herb Garden
Most herbs love the full sun and holiday herbs are no different. Ideally, you want to set your potted herbs in the sunniest areas of the home, like a windowsill that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight. If you can only manage to find a partially shady spot for the herbs, that’s fine. Just use supplemental light like a fluorescent bulb to make sure that the herbs are getting all the light they need to survive the winter cold.
Use the Right Soil
Generally, herbs love well-draining soil because this soil type prevents standing water that causes rot and diseases. Choose a well-draining potting medium for planting holiday herbs. This way, you won’t have to keep adding more fertilizers. Of course, you still need to enrich the soil with fertilizers regularly, about once a month for optimal plant growth.
Choose the Best Containers
Herbs do not grow too big so these plants can be grown in tiny pots! You can use regular terracotta pots, metal pots, or ceramic pots for your herbs. Whatever pot you chose to grow your herbs, just make sure the bottom has holes so water drains away from the plant roots. Standing water will cause rot to set in while increasing the risk of diseases and infestation! As the herbs grow, they will need more room so have the herbs transplanted in a larger pot once they have outgrown their original container.
Caring for the Herbs
Most herbs do not require much coddling. Caring for these plants is so easy breezy, anyone can grow holiday herbs! Water your potted herbs regularly. Container herbs, in particular, are extra thirsty especially during the summer season. Always check for signs of wilting, yellowing leaves, or drying foliage. These are signs of infrequent watering or stress. Prune the herbs carefully to encourage new growths. This way, you can harvest more herbs for cooking. Remove the flowers from the herbs as some herbs turn bitter once they bloom. Finally, do not crowd your herbs. Herbs are the kind of plants who love more room to grow!
Using the Herbs for Thanksgiving
Fresh herbs have a milder aroma than dried herbs. If you are using fresh herbs for your Thanksgiving dinner, you’ll have to adjust the amount of fresh herbs that you use. For example, if a certain dish calls for a teaspoon of dried thyme, use 3 teaspoons of fresh thyme to get the same level of aroma as the dried herbs. In addition, try adding heartier herbs like rosemary, sage, and thyme, at the end of the cooking time, about 20 minutes before the dish cooks completely. This helps keep the aroma robust once the dish is ready to serve!
Make your Thanksgiving feast even more special by seasoning your holiday dishes with fresh herbs from your garden. Growing your own herbs at home allows you to save up on fresh herbs during the holiday season!