Spring has absolutely sprung in Maryland. With the rhododendron and azaleas blooming and the kids playing outside, this is the ideal time to plant an herb garden. It only takes a few minutes, and you’ll be so glad to be able to use your own fresh and affordable herbs all spring and summer (and even into the fall and winter, depending on where you live).
I have found that it takes about 10 minutes to transfer a few basic herbs from their temporary containers from the garden store or farmer’s market to pots or soil in our backyard or on our deck. The kids like getting their hands dirty digging little holes for the roots, and we like to pick a leaf from each herb, rub our fingers on it to release the fragrance, and guess which herb is which.
Pick a sunny spot for your herb garden before you start planting. My back deck is my favorite place because it’s easy to step out there while I’m preparing dinner and snip the evening’s herbs. Also, the ravenous deer in our neighborhood haven’t yet mastered the steps.
I plant lots of basil (at least three pots) and one pot each of rosemary, thyme, mint, sage, chives, parsley, cilantro and oregano. Make sure to get potting soil, large pots for the herbs, and water dishes to go under the pots.
The hardest part of maintaining the herbs is keeping the pots watered throughout the summer so the roots don’t dry out. If your kids are old enough, it’s a perfect opportunity for them to help while observing how plants grow. Ask them to pick some mint when you make these Middle Eastern Stuffed Pita sandwiches, and make sure they try to describe how the mint smells. They can also chew on a leaf to make their breath smell fresh.
I get such a thrill out of bringing in fresh ingredients each night from my own garden. As obvious as it may be to seasoned gardeners, the joys and culinary rewards of using ingredients from my garden far outweigh the small effort it takes to maintain it.
This is a great no-cook meal for one of those busy evenings when everyone gets home too late to make an elaborate meal, but you want to avoid eating fast food or cereal for dinner. This is also a fun appetizer or snack when served in mini pitas.
Do you grow any vegetables or herbs? How do your kids help?
Recipe: Middle Eastern Stuffed Pitas
A great no-cook meal for one of those busy evenings or a fun snack when served in mini pitas.
- 10 oz. hummus, any variety
- 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 1/2 yellow or red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
- 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 6 pita pockets (get the softest and freshest you can find)
- Put all the ingredients in separate bowls so each family member can design their own sandwich.
- Warm the pita in the microwave oven for about 1 minute until they are very warm and soft.Cut them in half crosswise (so you have 2 semicircles), then cut the pocket open so you can fill it.
- Spread a layer of hummus in each pita half and top it with all the fillings or whichever sound good to you!