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Make use of an herb garden for now and later

<p>Special to the Pahrump Valley Times - Diva Patti starts her herb plants in egg cartons and enjoys the harvest all year fresh, dried or frozen.</p>

Special to the Pahrump Valley Times - Diva Patti starts her herb plants in egg cartons and enjoys the harvest all year fresh, dried or frozen.

Spring has sprung! For your culinary enjoyment you don’t get more bang for the buck than planting an herb garden. Have you seen how expensive a little bundle of fresh basil or dill is at the grocery store? It’s crazy!

For the same price you can buy a live plant and enjoy a continuous harvest throughout the growing season and dried or frozen herbs all winter.

Even more economical than buying plants is starting your herb garden from seed. Lots of herbs happily grow from seed; basil, chives, dill and parsley to mention a few. I start mine in egg cartons.

Find some gardening buddies and share seed packets or seedlings to increase the variety of plants in your garden. Seed packets have a “best by” date on them but seeds will last for years beyond that date.

The germination rate will decrease slightly as time goes by but you can just sow a few extra seeds to make up for the difference. Many herbs are so happy to grow from seed they will self sow saving you time and money in the future. I personally had parsley self seed with such enthusiasm it was quite literally in every bed in my garden. Luckily, I like parsley. If you find yourself with an enthusiastic plant just snip off the flower heads before they set seed. Or better yet, share your abundance with friends.

What to do with all those fresh herbs, you ask? Make chimichurri. This classic Argentinean green sauce is used to accompany grilled steak but it’s also great with chicken, pork, on vegetables or as a marinade for meat. It’s so simple to make; take 3-6 cloves of garlic and a couple of tablespoons of onion and place in a food processor or blender and pulse until finely chopped. Add 2 cups of fresh parsley and/or cilantro, 1/2 cup olive oil and 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and whir it all up. Finish with salt and a dash of hot sauce to taste. Beautiful!

Got basil? Make pesto! Take 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, 2 cloves garlic, 1/4 cup pine nuts or substitute other ground nuts like pecans, walnuts or almonds, 1/2 cup olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and whir it up in a blender. Perfect over pasta.

Need more reasons to plant herbs? Just imagine a soothing herbal tea or relaxing in a warm bath infused with rosemary or mint. Of course the best reason to plant an herb garden is just for the fun of it. Spring planting will reward you all year long. Now, let’s go play in the dirt.

Frugal Family Fun contributed by Patti Diamond from Divas On A Dime™ – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous! www.divasonadime.com Join us on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom.

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