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Cultivating Herbs – In the Alaska Garden with Heidi Rader

November 7, 2019


Hi, I’m Heidi Rader. I’m with UAF
Cooperative Extension Service and Tanana Chiefs Conference. I’m here at the Georgeson Botanical Garden at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and today we’re
going to talk all about herbs that you can grow in Alaska and how to
harvest them. So you can grow a lot of herbs here in Alaska, they like pretty
similar conditions to your vegetables: neutral pH, well-drained soil. But
many of them are not perennial as they are in other parts of the world. We do
have a few exceptions, chives and Welsh or Siberian onions are perennial as well
as mint in some areas of Alaska. These are chives here and they actually will
reseed and can kind of spread throughout your garden as do the Siberian onions so
you do want to be careful where you plant them . Chives is kind of a
mild onion flavor and the Siberian onions is a much stronger onion type
flavor. But you can use them in dishes where you’d use onions and you know just
chop them up finely. Ideally you want to use them before they flowered as once
they flowered they get to be quite woody. But this one you can still cut off the
flowers and some people even like to deep-fry the flowers. This one is
still good, this one’s a little bit old. The sprigs that have not
flowered are still good to use so you can just cut them down near the base and
use those in a lot of dishes. There’s some grass in here too which you do not
want to eat. So those are your chives and Siberian onions. Over here we have quite
a few varieties of lavender. Lavender is great in tea, it’s great for aromatherapy,
you can also make a simple syrup and infused baked goods with your
your lavender flavor. Just boil down some of the lavender leaves and then add
sugar for that. So here’s our varieties of lavender and as you can see it’s
quite productive and grows well here in Alaska. Many of the herbs that we grow
here in Alaska need to be started in a greenhouse. Some of them can take quite a
long time, about five months, so you may want to just purchase your transplants
from a greenhouse especially if you’re only going to need one or two plants. And
a few you can direct feed in the garden like dill or chervil. Here we have
Thai basil, sweet basil, we’ve got dill that’s flowered here and
now is really good for pickling. Over here we’ve got rosemary, tarragon, flat
leaf parsley, and so Thai basil goes really well in a variety of Thai dishes
like curry or spring rolls. Thai dishes use a lot of fresh herbs. Dill is great
on salmon for making dips and for pickling at the end of the year. Of
course basil you can make pesto or you can add it to pizza and pasta, all kinds
of things. Rosemary is also a common Italian herb, it also goes really well
with potatoes. Rosemary is a little bit stronger than some of your other herbs
and so you want to be a little bit more judicious and how much you use. And
tarragon has a little bit of a licorice flavor and goes really well in salad
dressings or on fish and in soups. Some herbs you’re going to want to add
it towards the end of cooking so you don’t destroy
flavor and things like tarragon especially lose their flavor if cooked
too long. So others like rosemary or bay leaves you can cook quite a long time
and they’ll retain their flavor. So if I were to harvest these types of herbs you
want to harvest just enough so you promote continued leaf development. So I
wouldn’t want to cut off this entire rosemary sprig here because then I
wouldn’t get as much leaf development throughout the summer so I’d
probably just take these side shoots here and maybe the top here to promote
continued branching and leaf development. But it is good to routinely use your
herbs so that they don’t go to flower because at this point they become quite
woody and you know you can still use this in pickling this dill but it’s not
quite as tender as if it had not gone to flower and then you can use it in dips
and actually eat the leaf still because it’s still quite tender. Same with this
basil, you want to continue to to pick off these side shoots before it flowers
and and to continue to promote the leaf development. So I would just cut off
these side shoots to promote continued leaf development. Here we have chervil, this is also a
licorice type flavor here and it doesn’t dry well so you don’t generally see it
for sale as a dried herb and so it’s another great reason to grow your own
herbs because you can harvest it as you like and as you need it. This is lemon
balm here which as the name implies it’s a kind of a lemony flavor that’s a great
thing to use in teas and and other things like maybe on fish or chicken where you
want that lemony type flavor. Over here we’ve got a Japanese herb called perilla
shishu, and that’s used in sushi and other Japanese cuisine and quite
productive here as you can see. We’ve got Sorrell here, also quite
productive. Cress, sorry that was Sorrell, purple basil, and
there’s so many different varieties of herbs another great reason to grow your
own herbs like your vegetables, you know you may be able to find one type of
fresh basil at the store but if you grow your own, you’ve got many
many types. This is cilantro here used in a lot of Mexican dishes. Some people love
it some people hate it. I’m one of the latter. This is lettuce leaf basil here
quite productive and huge leaves here. You can grow lots and
lots of herbs here in Alaska and our short growing season. Unfortunately many
of them are not perennial but either by growing your own transplants or
purchasing them from a greenhouse you can really have a productive herb garden.
So that’s that’s all about herbs today in which you can grow here in Alaska. I’m
Heidi Rader with UAF Cooperative Extension Service and we’ll be doing a
couple other videos here on cooking and preserving herbs, so check those out.
I’ll see you later.

1 Comment

  • Reply Arron Lemon July 1, 2018 at 3:58 pm

    A Global Inventory of Perennial Vegetables provides at least two dozen edible perennials that grow and will grow throughout zones 1 thru 5.

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