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Instead of the usual dried herbs for holiday meals, try growing your own in a container this year, and use them to decorate the mantle, centre the table or give as gifts.
Dried herbs from the summer harvest are traditionally used in the holiday kitchen; dressings are dusted with thyme, rosemary is nestled into the turkey and mint garnishes the desserts. Start a new tradition this season and pot up a few herbs to decorate the mantle, centre the table or give as hostess gifts. It can be as simple as a trio of pots to set on a sunny windowsill or as elaborate as a rosemary topiary or decorated centrepiece.
Rosemary releases a pleasant scent and can be grown as a natural small shrub or cultivated into a two-ball topiary or small Christmas tree. Decorate rosemary or other evergreen herbs, such as silver thyme and golden sage, with natural raffia, gold-dipped nuts, pine cones, ribbon, seashells or your favourite small ornaments.
Accessorize a collection of your favourite herbs with holly, candles and bells to add a festive touch to your table setting. A small pair of scissors attached or tucked into the arrangement will let guests know they are welcome to help themselves to the fresh herbs. After the holidays, remove the decorations and enjoy the herbs indoors until spring, when you can move them outside to the picnic table.
Indoors, keep herbs at room temperature and protect them from hot and cold drafts. Provide medium light levels, weekly watering and monthly feeding. Extra care includes a weekly light misting of fresh water.
Here are some favourites:
Rosemary:size=”2″> A fragrant evergreen herb that produces blue flowers. A favourite with turkey, in dressing, roasted potatoes and breads.
Silver Thyme:size=”2″> A tasty herb with decorative silver and green foliage and pink flowers. Toss it in with roasted vegetables, soups and dressing.
Chives: size=”2″> Decorative, mild-tasting chives are a great fresh garnish for salads and potatoes. The edible pink flowers are delicious stir-fried or tossed with mixed greens.
Sage:size=”2″> Fragrant, strong tasting and extremely decorative. Look for silver, purple, or tricolor sage to add contrast to your indoor herb garden. A few leaves will spice up poultry or dressing; whole leaves, breaded and fried, make a great appetizer.
Mint:size=”2″> Look for fancy varieties, such as orange, grapefruit or chocolate to add to your desserts or teapot. Traditional peppermint is excellent for making jellies, garnishing desserts or brewing tea to aid in digestion. Or you can dress up the holiday punch bowl with edible mint ice cubes: Fill your ice cube tray one-half full with water, freeze, then add freshy-picked and washed leaves, top up with water and re-freeze.