The annual kitchen or pot herbs always have been favorites with home gardeners. In most instances, a few plants of each kind produced from a packet of seed suffice to serve the average family’s needs.
There are many annual herbs, but the basils, dill, chervil (the gourmet’s parsley), and summer savory may be considered first importance; they are all “easy to grow.”
A light, sandy, well-drained soil and a sunny situation give the best results. No fertilizer or organic matter is necessary.
Chervil (Anthriscus Cerefolium)
A native of southern Asia, chervil has graced gardens and banquet tables since the days of the ancient Greeks and Romans.
Chervil is a small, anise-fragrant, graceful annual growing to about two feet or less with twice-divided, compound, curly leaves and bearing white flowers arranged in tiny umbels.
The tender fresh leaves of anise flavor are used in salads like parsley, for this is considered a gourmet’s parsley by French chefs who use it as one of their fines herbed.
Like dill, the seed germinates quickly but does not transplant well, so sowings are made in rich, well-drained soil in spring and late summer. It is receptive to the shade cast by taller plants like dill and likes some moisture in dry weather.
Summer Savory (Satureia Hartensis)
Savory makes a fragrant shrubby plant of light, graceful form, 18 inches or less, ornamental and functional. Leaves are narrow, short-stalked, widely spaced, bronzy-green in color on hairy brown stems.
The leaves and flowering tops have a savory and spicy taste, often combined with marjoram and thyme to add aroma and piquant flavor to meats, stews, stuffings, soups, and vegetable dishes. Savory is one of the best culinary herbs.
In Shakespeare’s time, savory was as familiar as mint, marjoram, marigolds, and lavender.
Summer Savory Culture
The seed should be sown in ordinary garden soil in early spring in a sunny location and after that.
Sweet Basil (Ocinum Basilicum)
A native of India, basil (pronounce the an as in “add”) is a tender, tall, attractive annual to be treated in much the same way as the tomato plants whose fruit it flavors so well.
In July, the tiny white flowers, favored by bees, grow in whorls in the arils of the leaves, which are smooth, green, opposite, small in size, and spicily scented.
Used dried or fresh, they impart a delightful flavor to many Mediterranean dishes. It is most prevalent in tomato, egg, cheese, fish, or spaghetti dishes and in making basil-flavored vinegar.
Sweet Basil Culture
Seeds may be sown in the open ground in the first part of June or started earlier in pots in a sunny window indoors. Grow it in full sun in ordinary soil as a cooking aid or for its beautiful fragrant foliage in a flower border.
Dill (Anethum Graveolens)
A hardy annual, dill is native to the Mediterranean region. It forms a three-foot beautiful background plant with alternate blue-green lacy leaves and umbels of bright yellow-green flowers on hollow stems.
The bitter seeds that follow the showy flowers are used in pickling and dill-flavored vinegar; the tender young leaves or sprigs for garnishing and seasoning salads, soups, and .fish dishes.
Dill is another favorite herb with a unique flavor for which there is no substitute. Once, it was used in witchcraft and was planted in the early centuries among other pot herbs and worts.
It overgrows from seed. Sow seeds sparingly in spring, half a packet at once, reserving the balance for second sowing; it does not transplant well. Place it where it will not shade low growers.