Growing and Selling Fresh-Cut Herbs
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Herb of the Month
Over the next year, the herb of the month feature will focus on those unusual herbs that a professional grower may occasionally be asked to supply. These profiles are supplied by Herbalpedia
For most growers this is a tender perennial that thrives in the hot sun and in warm southern climates will reach its full height of 10 feet. When grown in a planter, tended over the winter months, it can be maintained at a height of 6 feet or more. It can be grown as an annual, planted in the spring and allowed to be killed by the first fall frost. It's a heavy feeder so regular applications of fish emulsion are helpful. Pinch the tips of the plant to keep it bushy. Best propagated by cutting. As green stems begin to harden in July and August, cuttings will strike best. Take slips of 4 inches. Strip lower leaves and dip ends of stems in hormone powder. Place in sterile soil substitute in a small pot in which the plant may grow for at least four months after rooting. If you intend to winter it inside it's best to keep the plant in the pot and sink it into the ground to avoid damage when digging it up. It will lose its leaves but in proper conditions will begin putting out new ones in March. Withhold water, but do not dry the root ball out completely. They must be keep warm, but do not need full light when in a dormant state. Temperatures should not fall below 55F. Water freely again in March. Cuttings need 65F temperature to root which is why they do better in mid-summer than during the winter. Cool conditions in winter help to curb one of the two pests on the glandular leaves, spider mites. These have been treated with success by spraying plants with a hard jet of cold water. White flies are always a problem. Begin harvesting once a week by mid-summer. Growth occurs rapidly during the hottest weather. Cut long stems and strip the leaves for fresh use or hang stems upside down to dry in a dark, dry, well-ventilated area. In 5-7 days, strip the leaves and store them in airtight, opaque containers.
Lemon Verbena tastes good in fresh fruit drinks,
especially those made with peaches or strawberries; herb teas made with
licorice or mint; fruit salads and infused in custard-based dessert
sauces. Add chopped leaves to a fish sauce or sprinkle them over a
tomato salad. Pile peeled and
sliced kiwi in a stemmed glass with fresh raspberries.
Fill the glass with white wine and add chopped lemon verbena.
The comprehensive revised edition of Growing and Selling Fresh-Cut Herbs is available from author, most internet booksellers, bookstores, and in libraries. It can be ordered from the distributor, Independent Publishers Group.
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