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Homegrown Herbs

Fresh herbs are easy to grow and can make all the difference between a good dish and an extraordinary dish! Once you begin to use fresh herbs in your favorite recipes, you'll never want go back to using just dried herbs again. Chefs know that fresh food is always best and fresh herbs are no exception.

Here are our favorite herbs to create the basic kitchen garden. Of course, this is just a start, there are many others to experiment with in your garden that will add bold flavor. A herb garden can be as simple as having a pot just outside your kitchen door or a group of planters in your window sill or even an extensive garden planted outside. No matter the size, cooking with herbs can be fun and you can’t make a mistake - so be creative and savor the flavor.

Basil - With lots of varieties to choose from, this king of the herbs offers something for every palette. While the taste of sweet basil is bright and pungent, other varieties also offer unique tastes that are true to their name like: lemon basil, anise basil and cinnamon basil.

Parsley - Use this herb for the mild flavor it adds to a savory dish and for the coloring it adds as a garnish.

Sage - This is a must-have herb for seasoning any poultry dish. It has a slight peppery flavor and is best used on meats in a marinade but is also good in stuffing and sauces. We also love Pineapple Sage which is great in pitchers of water to offer flavor.

Rosemary - Rosemary is best used to season fish and seafood products, but it is also a great seasoning for grilled meats, lamb and potatoes. Try Barbeque Rosemary to use as skewers on the grill.... a real crowd pleaser!

Thyme - This is the basic herb used in dishes from all over the world including French, Italian, Indian, Greek and Spanish cuisines. Use thyme on lamb, meats, poultry, soups and stews.

Oregano - This classic culinary herb is one of the most commonly used herbs worldwide. Use in Italian, Greek and Mexican cooking. The flavor is strong enough to stand up to bold flavors like tomatoes, onion, garlic, and beef. We love the Hot & Spicy Oregano in pasta sauces.

Dill - This easy to grow herb is a member of the parsley family. Cut often to keep producing. Dill pairs well with fish and is used for pickling, to flavor salads and in soups.

Mint - Is a beautiful herb that has one of the most recognizable aromas. Spearmint and peppermint are the most popular types of mint, but more unusual varieties like Mint Chocolate are available. Use in drinks, or simply gather a small bunch to offer aroma for a room.

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Let's Talk Tomatoes

Check out what's trending in the tasty tomato world. Enjoy a homegrown harvest right from your own yard. Tomatoes are one of the easiest & tastiest foods to grow, and, best of all homegrown tomatoes are much tastier than store bought varieties. Simply choose a few of your favorite varieties. We offer more than 40 different types including slicing, cherry, grape and old fashioned heirlooms. Here's five of our favorites...

  1. TomTato - The newest and coolest 'mato on the block dubbed Ketchup ‘n’ Fries™. This tomato plant is grafted onto a potato plant yielding up to 100 cherry tomatoes and 2-5 pounds of potatoes in a year. Yes, tomatoes AND potatoes in one plant! Grow it in a veggie garden or patio container. (available in stores, May 15)
  2. Sun Gold - With explosively sweet flavor, this is one of the garden’s sweetest. Sun Gold ripens in long clusters of 10 to 15 fruits. The sweet flavor is ready about a week before full coloring. Wait to pick fruits at their deepest hue and you’ll experience a richly sweet, fruity flavor.
  3. Sweet 'n' Neat Cherry Red - A McDonald favorite, this super sweet, cherry-sized tomato continuously produces all through summer. It's compact size makes it ideal in containers, on decks or in small spaces.
  4. Super Sweet 100 - You'll love these cherry tomatoes bursting with sugary flavor. The scarlet, cherry-sized fruits are produced in long pendulous clusters right up to frost.
  5. Better Boy - With 8 to16 oz round fruit, it has a classic tomato taste and is a great for slicing. The fruit has just the right balance of acid and sugar. This one is a climber and requires a cage for best results.

After you select the tomatoes that are best for you, you'll want to purchase a tomato cage to keep them upright. For best results and to ensure a bountiful harvest, a cage will support and ensure maximum growth. The cage will give your tomatoes something to grow through and keep the fruit off the ground and help support the stalks and keep them from bending and breaking. We especially love using colorful cages in red, yellow, orange, green and even purple.

Finally, to make your tomato plants’ roots strong and your fruit plumper, we recommend using Espoma Tomato Tone Fertilizer. This organic fertilizer feeds your plants naturally and will not force rapid growth at the expense of blooms and tomato yield. We suggest applying Tomato Tone after plants are well established (10 - 14 days) and then twice a month during the growing season (May through August).

TOMATO TIP: When planting tomatoes, we suggest adding lime to the soil to fortify the calcium in the soil thus helping to eliminate a common tomato problem, Blossom End Rot.

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Plant of the Week: Better Boy Tomatoes

Did you know that a Better Boy tomato plant once yielded more than 340 pounds of fruit, earning it a Guinness World Record? Although your plant might not yield that much fruit, it will produce plenty of bright red delectables that you can enjoy fresh from your garden all summer long.

Better Boy tomatoes are one of the most popular tomatoes grown. With 8-16 oz round fruit, it has a classic tomato taste and is a great for slicing. The fruit has just the right balance of acid and sugar. It is a climber and requires a tomato cage and staking for best results. They continue to grow until frost and need full sun for best results. Water well to prevent drying out in warm weather and fertilize with liquid or slow release plant food.

Ideal for salads, soups, hot dishes, pickling and superb on sandwiches.

Check out more of our favorite plants! OUR PLANTS OF THE WEEK >>

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