Newest Review: ... and in about two months they should have their own root system and can be replanted. USING ROSEMARY Rosemary dries out very easily ... more
Rosemary pretty by name pretty useful too
Member Name: Stewwydablue
Advantages: Quite easy to keep and grow
Disadvantages: I want so many rosemary plants that I'm running out of space
There's so many recipes that use rosemary, and the fact that it's a very sensual plant (the smell and feel of the thin pine like leaves and the sight of the delicate little flowers) make it a plant that earns its place in the garden. Also, if the sun remembers its job this summer, it is a useful herb for barbeques but I'll explain more about that later.
You have the usual options - growing from seed, a cutting or buying a small plant from a nursery. To grow from seed, you'll need to start them off under cover or indoors as the seeds need a constant temperature of at least 15 degrees to germinate. Sprinkle some seeds thinly onto pre-watered gritty compost, then cover the pot or tray with cling film and leave. Just about every rosemary seed packet I've ever read states that germination can be erratic, I would agree slightly but would also say that I still get a decent amount of seeds germinating whenever I've grown it from seed. When the plants are about 2 inches high and have three or four sets of leaves on, they can be hardened off before finally planting outside. To harden off, leave the pots outside in the sunshine during the day and bring indoors at night. After a couple of weeks of hardening off, the plants should be ready to re-plant permanently outside - leave about 10 inches between each plant. Make sure that the soil has good drainage as rosemary doesn't like "getting its feet wet" - I add a handful of grit into the bottom of the hole prior to popping the plant in there.
If you've bought a small rosemary plant from a garden centre, plant it out as per above. As rosemary is Mediterranean and therefore likes a bit of sunshine, it's a good idea to give them a bit of protection in the middle of winter if really harsh frosts are expected - fleece, newspaper, bring them indoors for the night etc. As for planting positions, they will thank you for being placed in full sun. If you protect the plant from hard frosts, they are classed as perennial plants and should last for years - although they can become leggy if not pruned occasionally, so get using it and snip sprigs off regularly during the growing season as this is effectively pruning the plant.
Taking rosemary cuttings is an easy way of getting free plants. To take a cutting, neatly slice a six inch length of fresh growth just above the join or heel of where it meets the main stem, then remove the bottom 3 inches of the needle like leaves. Stick these half naked stems into a pot of gritty compost, keep moist but don't over water and in about two months they should have their own root system and can be replanted.
Rosemary dries out very easily and can be stored in an airtight container for months before the taste starts to fade, but can also be used fresh. It goes well with most meats, eggs, fish, vegetables and sprinkled into salads. I use a sprig of rosemary to close the neck of a stuffing filled turkey up when roasting one in the oven - I can't take the credit for that idea though, I think I saw it on a Jamie Oliver programme. Also, I throw a few sprigs of rosemary into the tray when roasting vegetables or potatoes too, and I'm not fussy about removing stray rosemary leaves from my roasted potatoes before serving. Try throwing some dried rosemary sprigs onto the coals of a barbeque - it smells wonderful and also gives the meat a hint of the herb.
Rosemary is thought to relieve headaches and colds. Also, the smell of the oil is thought to invigorate the brain and can improve the memory. Too much contact with concentrated rosemary oil though is thought to increase the chances of an epileptic seizure, so like with all essential oils, seek professional advice before use.
Being useful either if grown as purely a culinary herb or if grown as an architectural plant, I'd say that a rosemary bush is worthy of its place in a garden border where space is at a premium and if you're looking to grow your own herbs. I highly recommend you try taking a cutting from a friendly gardening neighbour - it's pretty easy to propagate in this way. Five stars from me, thanks for reading.
Summary: Very fragrant herb with lots of culinary uses