Seven Herbs & Vegetables To Grow Now

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We asked local garden centers and experts for their produce picks and how to enjoy them

By Jessica Stringer

Genovese basil is an easy-to-grow herb that does well in the garden and in containers. Plant where it will get sun for at least 6 hours a day. Fresh basil is delicious with tomatoes in caprese salads, is the base ingredient for making pesto and adds flavor to homemade pizzas, sauces and sautes. Basil leaves also dry very well, so you can preserve your basil harvest to last well into the cold weather months!”

–Ashley Mattison, Owner, Fifth Season Gardening Co.

Mint is easy to grow in a container – just don’t let it escape to your garden, or it will take over! It can be grown from a sprig pulled up from a neighbor’s plant: make sure you get some roots when you pull the sprig, plop it in fresh potting soil in any container with a drainage hole, water it gently through, and wait – the plant will grow and spread on its own. Mint prefers a little protection from direct sun – a porch, window box or balcony is perfect. Enjoy your mint in a refreshing beverage by infusing a simple syrup: bring 1 part water and 1 part sugar with mint leaves to a simmer for 1 minute, let sit for 30 minutes, pluck out the leaves and enjoy with seltzer on ice!”

Melissa T. Amoabeng, Durham Public Schools Hub Farm

“We recommend that peppers be planted in an area that receives at least 6 hours of direct sun per day. Water deeply at least once a week, more often in hot, dry weather. Peppers are great for spicing up any summer dish and have endless recipe variations. We like to use them in stuffed peppers, salsa and stuffed jalapeños.”

Lilly Williamson, Owner, Piedmont Feed & Garden Center

Rosemary and lavender are fragrant and low maintenance. Plant in a pot or in the ground, let them grow and cut them when you need them. Since they are perennial, they will grow every year.” 

Kevin Whippen, Gunters Greenhouse 

“The ‘Celebrity’ tomato can be cut into thick, juicy slices. Easy to maintain, plant the stalk in an area with lots of sun (either in a pot or the ground), pick and enjoy.”

Stacey Sullivan, Stone Bros. & Byrd

Cilantro likes cool weather, so plant it before it starts getting hot. It’s fun and easy to care for – you can transplant it in any pot you have and it will be happy in full sun. It’s great for Indian and Mexican cooking. Flat-leaf Italian parsley is also a must. It goes well with basil and is a great pairing with Italian food.”

–Ashley Troth, PhD, Extension Agent, Agriculture NC Cooperative Extension Durham County Center

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Jessica Stringer

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