You are here: Home Columns Prairie Fare Prairie Fare: Grow Herbs All Year
Document Actions

Prairie Fare: Grow Herbs All Year

Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Nutrition Specialist Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Nutrition Specialist
Herbs add flavor without adding fat or sodium to your favorite dishes.

By Julie Garden-Robinson, Nutrition Specialist

NDSU Extension Service

I noted several plump robins hopping around our backyard the other day. A couple of geese flew over and a duck was swimming in a pond of melting snow.

I studied our lawn carefully by investigating the dry, brown blades of grass from last summer. I was hoping to spot spears of green peeking out of the ground.

No luck.

Like many people, I’m eagerly awaiting the appearance of the signs of spring, including warmer temperatures, green grass and blooming tulips.

With a little effort, you can have a splash of green in your home all year and some valuable additions to your culinary creations, too. Try growing herbs on a sunny window sill.

Herbs add flavor without adding fat or sodium to your favorite dishes. Herbs can help you eat a more heart-healthy diet as a result. How about some homemade salsa with fresh cilantro? How about a slice of homemade pizza with fresh basil?

Inspired to grow some herbs, I checked with a couple of friends in horticulture to refresh my knowledge.

Many herbs used in cooking grow well indoors, including basil, chives, parsley, mint and oregano. You can start your herbs indoors and plant them outdoors in a garden or pot when the weather warms.

A sunny window sill with exposure to about five hours of light per day is ideal. Herbs also will grow if they get 10 daily hours of fluorescent lighting. Use a warm and cool bulb in your grow light.

To grow herbs, you will need a container at least 6 inches deep with holes in the bottom (for good drainage). Use a separate container for each type of herb. You’ll also need well-draining, pasteurized potting mix.

Pick out seeds or small herb plants from a garden shop. Be a little adventuresome in deciding what to grow. Look through your cookbooks for inspiration. Plant seeds as directed on the package and leave about an inch of space at the top of the container to allow for watering.

Treat your potted herbs like house plants. Water them regularly, but don’t overwater, which can lead to soggy roots. Snip them often so they will grow full and lush. For best growth, use liquid fertilizer mixed with water as directed every week or two.

While mature herbs won’t appear overnight, in time you’ll have flavorful additions for your cooking. To use herbs, rinse them well under running water and chop in tiny pieces. The idea is to expose as much of their surface area as possible.

You can use fresh herbs in any recipe that calls for dried herbs. As a rule of thumb, use about three times as much fresh herbs as dried.

In "hot" dishes, such as soups and stews, add fresh herbs, such as basil, chives and cilantro, close to the end of the cooking time. Flavor can be lost with extended cooking.

In "cold" dishes, such as salads with dressings, add herbs several hours ahead of time to allow flavors to meld.

For more information about growing and using herbs, visit the NDSU Extension Service Web site at for our publication “Harvesting Herbs for Healthy Eating.”

Picnic season is coming soon. Try this tasty, colorful potato salad recipe featuring fresh parsley. It’s from the California Department of Health Services.

Herbed Potato Salad

1 1/2 pounds quartered red potatoes

1/2 c. light Italian dressing

1 1/2 tsp. spicy brown mustard

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

3/4 tsp. garlic salt

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

1/2 c. chopped green bell pepper

1/2 c. chopped red bell pepper

1/2 c. sliced green onions

Cook potatoes in boiling water until tender (about 10 minutes). Drain potatoes well and let cool. Place in medium-sized bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, combine dressing, mustard, parsley and seasonings. Pour mixture over potatoes and toss well. Carefully stir in bell peppers and green onions. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes six servings. Each half-cup serving has 120 calories, 2.5 grams (g) of fat, 22 g of carbohydrate, 3 g of fiber and 100 percent of the daily recommendation for vitamin C.

(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and associate professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.)

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Julie Garden-Robinson, (701) 231-7187,
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136,
Renewable Accounts: Renewable Accounts: E15 fuel could help you, the environment and N.D. farmers  (2019-06-06)  The EPA now allows E15 fuel to be sold year-round.  FULL STORY
Prairie Fare: Prairie Fare: Enjoy Lounging Outdoors With a Refreshing Beverage  (2019-06-13)  If plain water is kind of boring, try infusing it with fruit and/or herbs.  FULL STORY
Use of Releases
The news media and others may use these news releases in their entirety. If the articles are edited, the sources and NDSU must be given credit.

Powered by Plone, the Open Source Content Management System