The first thing I have to say is I love the smell of fresh rosemary. I think I like the aroma of rosemary better than I enjoy using it in my favorite meals. I use rosemary quite a bit with seafood and poultry. I even sprinkle it on beef from time to time. Rosemary leaves can be chopped or ground for use with meats, soups, stews, and marinades. It also goes well with potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, or peppers.
I will share with you a great rosemary tip that I really enjoy. Once the rosemary has grown some limbs 6-8″ long, I clip the entire branch off. I then pick off the rosemary leaves. At this point, most people just hurl the naked branch in the trash, right? Don’t!
Take the naked branch and sharpen one end to a point. Make sure it’s a fairly sturdy branch. Then after the end is sharpened, use it as a skewer when making shish-ka-bobs. It is better to use a fresh rosemary branch, do not let it sit around a few days, the branch will dry out and not have the great flavor that you are looking for. These rosemary skewers will add a zing to your ka-bobs…I promise.
Rosemary comes in quite a few varieties such as, ‘Madelene Hill’ and ‘Arp’ for upright varieties, ‘Blue Boy’ is a compact dwarf variety that grows well in containers, and ‘Rexford’ is great for warm climates.
Typically I grow a dwarf variety because I use containers for herbs.
Rosemary prefers a sunny location that is protected from the wind (a lot of wind can dry the plant out and you lose so much flavor) that drains well. Rosemary is a member of the mint family, and likes neutral-pH garden soil as well as in containers indoors and out. It will thrive in raised beds and is drought tolerant.
Rosemary will most likely be an annual is zones 4-6. In short season areas, plant rosemary in containers so they can be brought indoors if frost is expected.
Rosemary can be grown from stem cuttings or from transplants. Keep an eye on rosemary if it is a perennial in your area; after a couple years it can become invasive.
Cut a few succulent stems above any woody growth as needed throughout the growing season. Regular harvest of a few stems throughout the season will encourage bushier growth.
The tiny flowers can be used in salads or as a garnish. Tie harvested stems in a bunch and hang them upside down in a cool, airy space to dry.
In northern climates pull the plants up before the first frost and hang them by their roots to dry. Pull the dried leaves from the stems and store in an airtight container for up to 2 years. Pulverize, or chop, the leaves before adding to food as they can become chewy. Rosemary can also be frozen for long-term storage, but will lose its rich color.
Pests & Diseases
If you have never grown rosemary, or if you have never used it in preparing food, now is a good time to give it a try. It is very easy to grow, requires little maintenance and is well worth it!