Why Garlic Presses Are Versatile Time-Savers

Garlic PressPeeling and mincing garlic is a time-consuming task. Picking the sticky, flaky skin off of each clove and carefully mincing the delicate flesh into uniform bits requires skill, time, and patience (three things that home cooks sometimes lack). The garlic press, arguably one of the most controversial kitchen tools of the last century, is often used by cooks to save time. Its propensity for simplifying a common cooking annoyance has made it a popular utility tool in many kitchens.


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Growing Your Own Herb Garden: Benefits and Tips

Growing Your Own Herb Garden: Benefits and Tips

It is a known fact that gardening relieves stress. You may wish to try your hand at gardening too but are not sure if it will work out fine. Some people may be turned off at the thought of getting mud all over their hands. Perhaps you think you don’t have enough space for a garden. Whatever your apprehensions, growing herbs will be the perfect thing for you.

image source

 Why Grow Herbs

Herbs are easy to grow and require quite less space as compared to other plants. They also don’t take up much of your time and you’ll be able to reap their benefits quicker. Herbs will also add ornamental beauty to your garden.

Herbs impart flavor to food and are also rich in minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants. With all the fresh herbs growing around you, you will certainly be tempted to throw some sprigs into your meal. Apart from eating healthy , the gardening will also be a form of exercise for you.

Buying herbs from the market is very costly. Moreover, you may have to buy a whole bunch of a particular herb when you only need a few of its leaves. When you grow your own herbs, you only pick as much as you need, thereby minimizing wastage. And you don’t have to spend a fortune to get started on your herb garden.

Sometimes a recipe may need an exotic herb that you can’t find in the market. You can grow all types of herbs by yourself and save the time, energy and money that you’d put into going to the market.

Stacking Herb display

Stacking Herb display

You don’t even have to consume the herbs that you grow. Just draw in the fragrance-filled air in your garden and you’ll feel wonderful. You can make a potpourri of dried herbs, or use some to make candles or incense oils. You can also gift fresh or dried herbs to friends and family members. You might want to infuse a bottle of vodka with a herb such as dill and enjoy it yourself or present it to a loved one.

Types of Herbs

There are several varieties of herbs and it will do you good to know about them beforehand. Herbs can be classified according to their usage or their life cycle, generally annual or perennial.

According to their usage, herbs can be aromatic, culinary, medicinal or ornamental. Herbs such as marjoram, basil and mint are both aromatic and culinary herbs. Variegated varieties of mint, chives, lavender and thyme are preferred as ornamental plants. Medicinal herbs can be harmful to you. So if you aren’t aware of the uses of a particular herb, refrain from planting it.

According to their life cycle, herbs are classified as annuals that bloom for only one season; biennials that live for two seasons but bloom only in the second; and perennials that bloom every year. Marjoram, fennel, tarragon, mint and thyme are some perennial herbs that you can use for various purposes. If you would like to grow different herbs every year, you can pick from annuals such as basil, coriander, anise, dill or chervil.



Before you set out purchasing seeds or starts to plant in your garden, work out a plan. Think of which herbs you will be making use of. If you have limited space, planning appropriately will ensure you are growing all that you want instead of herbs that you won’t have any use for.

A unique way to grow herbs is planted in herb spirals. Don’t worry if you don’t have room for a sprawling garden; a herb spiral with a base diameter of just 3 feet will be able to hold together everything you need.

Herb Plant Spiral Design

Herb spirals are designed to create different micro-climates. At the top, sun-loving herbs that need well-drained soil will grow well; herbs that need shade and more water are to be planted towards the bottom. Herb spirals are not just functional but also act as beautiful focal points for gardens.

Herb Spiral

If a herb spiral does not interest you, you can also keep each herb in an individual pot and grow them around your patio or deck, enlarging the pot size as they grow. Be sure to grow the perennials and annuals separately so that you can easily replace the herbs as needed. If you intend to grow different herbs in rows in the ground, plant taller ones at the back. This will help you reach all of them.

Herbs also grow well in pots. Some herbs such as mint are better off in pots as they can quickly grow and overtake the whole garden. You can suspend the pots from a height or leave them on the ground. For people who love green surroundings but don’t want to deal with all the mess, potted herbs are the best. One can create extra green cover by making use of artificial grass.

You can consider creating an indoor herb garden. You’ll have to make sure the herbs get adequate natural or artificial light. You can also place potted herbs on your kitchen window sill. This way you can easily harvest your herbs while cooking. Make sure you trim the tips of all your herbs by a couple of inches to boost leaf growth. Well-drained soil is a must for all herbs. Using a lot of fertilizer is not advised as the plant will sprout more leaves that are less fragrant.

Harvest the leaves judiciously. You can start harvesting herbs as soon as they mature but remember to leave a third of the leaves on the plant. If you harvest more leaves at once, the herb may take more time to recover and sprout new leaves.  Gardening in general helps one unwind and feel energized. Growing herbs in particular is a form of aromatherapy. If you don’t want too much on your hands, a little herb garden will make you feel a lot better.


Millie Rainer is a content strategist for Forestgrass.com. She is looking to build up her authority as a blogger – so she is excited to explore new topics. Follow her on Twitter @MillieRainer.


Bay Laurel and other herb plants  at www.tastefulgarden.comHerb Starts and Growing Kits are available at www.tastefulgarden.com


Order Herbs from The Tasteful Garden

Order Herbs from The Tasteful Garden



Full Circle Sustainable Cleaning Supplies

Sustainable Compost bin

The Scrap Happy Compost bin

Full Circle Sustainable Cleaning Supplies and Kitchen Products

Every now and then, we come across a product that is so simple and yet so ingenious that it falls into the “life changing” category. You know the kind; they’re the ones that make you smack your forehead and ask “how did I ever live without this?” This is how we feel about the Full Circle kitchen products.

Our very favorite is the new Scrap Happy Scrap Collector and Freezer Compost Bin. We totally love composting because it drastically cuts down on the amount of trash we produce, and it also provides excellent (and free!) nutrition for our gardens. But less lovely is the process of collecting waste to add to our outdoor compost heap. Counter top compost bins can eat up prep space, and on the inside, coffee grounds, apple cores and banana peels become a stinky, slimy mess, and even attract fruit flies. Ugh!

Scrap Happy fits in your freezer door

The brilliant design of the Scrap Happy eliminates the problem of kitchen counter top space domination, as well as odor and bug attraction. The flexible silicone scrap bin features a wire rim so that it may be hung from a drawer on the side of your kitchen counter. As you chop fruits and veggies, just push the scraps right in. Then, the whole bin fits easily into your freezer for storage. When the bin is full, simply empty it into your outdoor heap, then pop it into your dishwasher. What could be easier than that?

Natural Cleaning with Full Circle Products

Natural Cleaning with Full Circle Products

Full Circle didn’t stop there when it comes to products that are practically designed, while still being both attractive and affordable. Our other favorites include the Ring Brush, a durable vegetable scrub brush that can also double as a post-gardening nail brush; the Tater Mate, a potato brush with a built in eye remover; and the Fresh Air, a lidded and odor free kitchen compost scrap collector, with biodegradable compost bags.

The Ring Sustainable Scrub Brush

The Ring Sustainable Scrub Brush

And you know what? Believe it or not, we haven’t even told you the best feature of all these products yet. The most awesome part is that all of Full Circle’s products are made of sustainable and renewable resources.

Full Circle believes in not only making practical items for your home, but also making them sustainable and biodegradable. This stands to make a truly positive change to our environment. Because we may not often think about the little things we throw away every day that are made of plastic. Take your toothbrush, for example. It may not seem like much to toss out a plastic toothbrush once every three months. But how many toothbrushes then end up in landfills every year? Millions. Same with kitchen scrub brushes. Even if just one plastic kitchen scrub brush gets thrown away in every American household per year, that is 120 million unbiodegradable plastic scrub brushes that get sent to landfills annually.

Full Circle has a mission that we can get on board with: “change is good.” Each plastic item that we can replace in our homes with a sustainable and/or biodegradable one is a great thing.


Earlywood Design products save trees

Earlywood Kitchen tools

Earlywood Trifecta includes the 2 sizes of Spatulas and a Spreader and come in 4 wood types.

Earlywood Design products save trees while being more functional than other tools clogging up your kitchen drawers.

Earlywood crafts their tools from sustainable wood and the artistry involved is impressive.  These tools are meant to last for generations and if treated with oil as needed, they will be handed down to your children and their children!  Not just beautiful, they are functional.  How many times have you been stirring a pot and wondered when the spoon didn’t reach the edges of the pot, “why am I using this tool?”   With these spatulas you can practically throw out every other stirring tool or spatula you have and you will reach for them every time.

Ironwood Cutting Board by Earlywood Designs

The Ironwood cutting board is the only one you will need. Use it to serve charcuterie and cheeses or just for chopping vegetables.

Here is a quote from the Earlywood website:

The wood we’ve chosen to use in our utensils is the perfect material for our designs. Not only is it beautiful, strong and long-lasting, it is a renewable natural resource. At Earlywood Designs, we are committed to a 100-1 reforestation program. For every one tree we use in the manufacturing of our products, we plant 100 seedlings in the Atlantic rain forest of Brazil.

Know that you are helping to save trees in South America, every time you use them. It makes you feel great about using these products to know that sustainability is in the forefront as they create their beautiful tools and cutting boards.

Chartucerie & CheeseA fabulous way to start an evening of drinks is with a Charcuterie tray and cheese board.  Serve with wines and use a good pate, incredible flavors of Italian cured meats and French cheeses which will make your entire party crowd around the table.


Here is a link to how to create a fabulous Charcuterie:  http://www.bonappetit.com/columns/the-foodist/article/america-s-best-charcuterie

Our Porcelain Amuse-Bouche set is new!

amuse bouche appetizer spoons set
Have you ever been to a restaurant that has offered you an amuse bouche? Literally meaning a mouth amuser, they are served in fine restaurants as a gift from the chef to start the meal with excitement.  Served in a small dish or a spoon, they are generally very decorative and exciting to look at.  These beautiful porcelain amuse bouche set of 6 spoons will do the trick and get your next party off to a great start.

They are also lovely for a tiny dessert when you want something rich but don’t want to overwhelm your guests with a heavy meal.  A chocolate truffle would be beautiful and top off any dinner.

This great recipe will get you started on an amuse-bouche for your next party!

Cheese Cones with Avocado Salsa

Cheese cones with Avocado salsa

Cheese cones with Avocado salsa amuse bouche recipe.
Thanks to Katy Atlas at Sugarlaws.com for the photo

1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup grated cheddar
1/4 cup grated Asiago

1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced into 1/4″ cubes
1/2 small tomato, seeded, juice removed and diced
1/2 red sweet pepper, roasted or fresh, seeds and stem removed, diced into 1/4″ cubes
1/2 red onion, diced very small
1/2 cup corn
1 tbsp cilantro chopped finely
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp lime juice
Salt & Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

Mix the cheese together. Pour a heaping tablespoon of the mixture onto a silicone or parchment lined baking sheet and lightly pat down. Repeat with the remaining cheese, leaving at least an inch between piles. Bake for 3 minutes, until the cheese has melted. Allow to cool for one minute, then wrap the cheese around a peeled carrot to create a cone. Allow to cool until hardened.

Mix together the avocado, diced tomato, onions, red pepper, corn, olive oil, cilantro & lime juice so the avocado doesn’t bruise. Fill the cones with the mixture and serve!  Want to heat it up? Use Jalapeno or Serrano peppers to give it a kick!

Dueling Edibles: Radishes, Dill & Chives

Radishes Dill and Chives salad

Image from 1000 + 1


Radishes are often called the “instant gratification” crops of the garden, because they are easy to grow and go from seed to harvest in practically no time at all. Dill is super hardy and rules the container garden; while chives will grow in just about any type of soil with varying degrees of sunlight. These three garden edibles are surprisingly versatile, and any way you prep ‘em, they are sure to please your impromptu cocktail hour guests.

How to serve radishes

Nothing says spring like the crisp, peppery bite of a radish. When you garnish your Bloody Mary at brunch, have you ever thought of using pickled radishes instead of celery? How about piling pickled radishes on top of a juicy grilled burger? It gives the same crunch of lettuce with a lot more flavor.

Image from Relish!

  Easy Sweet and Sour Pickled Radishes

3/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
6 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 bunches radishes, rinsed and drained

Combine the water, vinegar, sugar and salt in a large jar. Close the jar with its lid and shake it up until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Quarter the radishes. (Smaller radishes can be halved and larger ones may need to be cut into sixths. You’ll want them to be roughly the same size.) Pack the radishes into your jar, cover with the brine and then the lid, and place in the refrigerator. They can be eaten immediately, but will taste best after sitting for 3 days. They’ll keep for up to a month in the fridge.

How to grow radishes

Image from Garden of Eaden

Fast growing radishes are best sown in the cool periods of spring and late summer/early fall.

  • Days to harvest- 30 days from seed to harvest.
  • When to sow radishes outdoors- In spring, sow radishes at 10-day intervals starting two weeks before your average last spring frost, continuing to three weeks after your last frost date. Sow seeds half an inch deep and 1 inch apart.
  • Harvesting- If you pick radishes in warm weather, cool them off by immediately dropping them in a bucket of cold water. Trim off the green before storing them in the fridge.

Radish varieties to try

  • Easter Egg Blend- This variety comes in an array of beautiful bright colors. It’s a pretty and crispy addition to any salad or relish tray, and is great for pickling.
  • French Breakfast- The classic French way to serve these radishes is on a platter with sea salt. Try it- their mild flavor is irresistible! If you like in a warm climate, this heat tolerant variety is a great choice.

How to serve dillThe flavor of fresh dill is a great pairing with just about anything: sprinkled on popcorn, spread with butter on baked fish or grilled corn on the cob, chopped and stirred in with eggs and omelets, or of course added to homemade dill cucumber pickles. But how about infusing dill in vodka? Try it for an amazing new twist on the classic martini.

Image from StarChefs

  Simple Dill Infused Vodka

1 bunch of fresh dill, washed and trimmed
1.75 liters of good quality vodka

Place the dill in a bottle with an large mouth or a jar. Pour in the vodka so that it covers an inch or two above the dill. Place this in a dark place, such as a closet or pantry. Shake the mixture every day for 10 days. (Or leave it longer if you want a stronger flavor.) After 10 days, the vodka will have taken on a pretty chartreuse tinge. Strain the vodka through a piece of cheesecloth to remove the solids. Serve it chilled in a martini glass, along with a fresh dill sprig and a slice of cucumber as garnish.

How to grow dill

Image from You Grow Girl

Dill will grow best in a sunny spot. It’s a great choice for container, and can grow quite tall, so make sure it doesn’t block the sun from your other plants.

  • Days to harvest- 70 days from seed to harvest.
  • When to sow dill outdoors- Sow dill outdoors in the spring, about 4 weeks before your last spring frost.
  • Harvesting- You can harvest the leaves of dill any time before the plants flower. To dry the leaves, place them on a wire rack in a cool and shady place.

How to serve chives

Chives are most famous for their oniony flavored green foliage. Potato chip dip just wouldn’t be the same without them! But did you know that chive blossoms are also edible? The lovely lilac colored blossoms make an unexpected addition to pasta salad or deviled eggs. The trick is just to pull the blossoms apart so you don’t have a big fluffy flower in your mouth all at once. If you’d prefer to leave the pretty purple blossom in tact, use it as a garnish on any savory cocktail, such as an Old Fashioned, a martini, or a Bloody Mary. Or, pep up your salads with this chive blossom vinegar from Calendula and Concrete.

Image from Jax House

 Chive Blossom Vinegar

1 large bunch of fresh chive blossoms
1 quart of white vinegar

Place the chive blossoms in a bottle with an large mouth or a jar. Pour in the vinegar so that it covers an inch or two above the blossoms. Place this in a dark place, such as a closet or pantry. Shake the mixture every day for 14 days. (Or leave it longer if you want a stronger flavor.) After 14 days, the vinegar will have a beautiful bright pink color. Strain the vinegar through a piece of cheesecloth to remove the solids.  The vinegar will have a mild oniony flavor, which is excellent for homemade salad dressings.

Image from Flickr/ Bitter Jeweler

How to grow chives

  • Days to harvest- 6o days from seed to harvest.
  • When to sow chives outdoors- Plant chives outdoors in the early spring or in the late summer/early fall.
  • Harvesting- Use a sharp pair of scissors to cleanly cut your chives. Leave about 2-3 inches of the chive leaf at the base. You can harvest chives in big handfuls, all season long!

How to combine all three edibles: radishes, dill & chives

Whip up a quick batch of this butter from Pink of Perfection with fresh herbs from your herb garden. The creaminess of the butter, freshness of the herbs, and spiciness of the radishes are an irresistible combination.

Dill Butter
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup or 2 ounces soft goat cheese

In a small bowl, mash together the dill, chives, shallots, butter, and salt. Mix until the herbs are evenly distributed throughout the butter. Crumble the cheese on top of the butter and stir a few times, just long enough to work the cheese into the butter, but keep the cheese a bit chunky. The dill butter will keep, refrigerated, for up to a week, but bring it back to room temperature before serving. Serve with cold radishes and a pile of salt.




Nontoxic Spring Cleaning

Nontoxic Spring Cleaning makes it easier and safer for your family!

There are certain things that we always think of when we hear the word “spring.” Among them are daffodils, rain galoshes, and of course, spring cleaning. While we can usually think of plenty of ways we’d rather spend our time other than cleaning, we admit that we do enjoy the post-winter opportunity to open the windows, clear out all the cobwebs and start fresh.

In recent years, you’ve surely noticed a nationwide effort by many around you to eliminate toxic cleaners from their homes. This makes perfect sense to us; after all, it is pretty counter-intuitive to wipe off a smudge of dirt with a dangerous chemical.

Think all the green cleaning buzz is just hype? No way. In fact, there is plenty of evidence that proves that standard household cleaners are detrimental to our health. 150 chemicals that are commonly found in homes today have been linked to cancer, allergies, and birth defects. Formaldehyde, phenol, benzene, toluene, and xylene are all chemical ingredients in standard household cleaners that have been proven toxic to the immune system. Household cleaners are three times more likely to cause cancer than outdoor air is. Three times. Yep, if you are not using green cleaners, it’s definitely time to start!

We know, it can be overwhelming to think about tossing all of your cleaners and replacing them with eco friendly alternatives. But we have an excellent starting point for you: it’s called the Full Circle Come Clean Natural Cleaning Solutions Set. This set comes with everything you need to switch to a safe and environmentally friendly spring cleaning routine, including a spray bottle, juicer (lemons are disinfecting as well as fresh smelling), and a microfiber cleaning cloth. The best thing about the set is that it contains a clear and easy to use guide that contains recipes for household cleaners. And the ingredients are ones that you probably already have in your home! So not only are Full Circle’s cleaning methods going to create a much healthier environment for your family, but they will also save you money in the long run.

Once again, Full Circle (one of our favorite eco-conscious companies) has thought of everything: ease of use, practicality, cost efficiency, and environmental safety. So when time for spring cleaning is upon you this year, turn over a new, greener leaf by eliminating the use of toxic chemicals in your home.



Six Gift Ideas for Gardener and Foodie Moms

If you’re reading this, you’ve waited until the last minute to find that perfect Mother’s Day gift that says you care, but you also want to get something you know she’ll use. What mom doesn’t love to receive gifts that are practical and stylish all at the same time? We hand selected these gift ideas for their affordability, ease of shipping last minute, and grouped together, they make a great gift basket. Any foodie or gardening mom is sure to appreciate their function and style.

  1. Allsop Write + Erase Plant Tags $16.00 — Mom will never forget what she plants this spring, and no matter how stylish they are, the birdies won’t fly off with them either. She can use them year after year. Available in herb and botanical prints.
  2. The Locavore Way $12.95 by Amy Cotler — We know, your mom is the best cook, but this book will take her one-dish wonders to a whole new level with tips on sourcing and preparing delicious local foods.
  3. Chicobag Produce Collection $11.95 to $15.95 — Help mom eliminate her co-dependency on single-use produce bags with ChicoBag’s washable bags for fruits, veggies, and bulk items like beans and pasta. Available in four different colorful styles.
  4. Botanical Interests Seeds $1.59 to $3.99 — It doesn’t get any more local and fresh than growing your own produce. We’ve made it even easier for today’s busy moms by selecting varieties that are easy to direct sow in the soil – no fancy indoor seed starting kits needed. Read more about why we think herbs are the rockstars in the garden.
  5. Full Circle’s Ring Veggie Brush $4.99 — Finally, a kitchen gadget mom doesn’t have to hide away because it’s an eye sore. The ring makes hanging over the kitchen faucet convenient for daily use. Made of eco-friendly materials too!
  6. Full Circle Scrap Happy Compost BinFull Circle’s Scrap Happy Compost Bin $14.99 — If you’re mom is the Queen of Clean while she cooks, then she’s gonna love how this compost bin conveniently mounts on a kitchen drawer, making food prep clean up a breeze. The silicon bin is freezable so food scraps awaiting the compost heap can be stored away without stinking up the kitchen. Available in orange and green.

Last day for on-time Mother’s Day delivery is Wednesday, May 9. Does your mom live out of state? No worries, we can gift wrap it for you and include a special message.

Get Creative with Edible Cocktail Garnishes

Lavender as garnish, image from cocktaildrinkrecipes.com

Have you ever noticed that a simple garnish can take a cocktail from being run-of-the-mill to totally extraordinary? It’s definitely true that we enjoy cocktails with our eyes and our noses, not just our taste buds, so a garnish is an essential element of a well crafted cocktail that should not be overlooked. No need to invest in mini paper umbrellas, though, because just like the best cocktail ingredients, the best garnishes come from your garden.

Savory Cocktail Garnishes

An awesome cocktail garnish will serve three different purposes: (1) it will look pretty when you serve the drink, (2) it will smell nice when you sip it, and (3) it will taste nice on your palate. So you should always add a garnish that will contribute to the flavor and aroma of your drink. Here’s some of our favorites:

Our Favorite Savory Cocktail

We cannot get enough of this Tomato Water Martini, one of Ivette Soler’s signature cocktails. The heirloom tomato and basil leaf garnish is not only colorful and fragrant, but it makes a delicious little munchy, too.

Tomato water martiniTomato Water Martini(aka Pomodoro Martini) – makes 2 martinisIngredients:

2 and ½ shots vodka
1/3 shot olive juice
2 shots tomato water (see below)
A lot of ice

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8 Reasons Why Herbs are Garden Rock Stars, try herb gardening and find out!

fresh herb photo by Do It Delicious

Always wanted to start herb gardening, but never known where to start? This spring, start by planting some herbs. There are countless benefits to having an herb garden, whether it’s in a large plot in your backyard, or just a few pots on your windowsill. In fact, we’d even go as far as to say that herbs are the rock stars of the gardening world. Here are our top reasons why.

Herb Growing Kits from aHa! Modern Living

Top 8 Reasons Why Herbs Rock

(1) You get a lot of bang for your buck. Pretty much the only expense is the seeds, a watering can if you don’t have one already, and your time. Not exactly a pocketbook buster! Many herbs, such as sage, thyme and mint, are perennials, which means you only have to plant them once and they’ll come back year after year.

(2) They can improve the health of your cooking. If you rely on salt to add zing to your food, it’s time to switch to a healthier alternative. Stir some chopped up herbs into your food instead, and not only are you adding gobs of flavor, but you’re adding extra antioxidants, too. Some herbs, such as basil, are even known to offer protection against heart disease, respiratory problems, cancer, and arthritis.

(3) Herbs don’t need fertile soil. Some plants are super finicky about their soil. Not herbs. Many actually do better in non-fertile soil (just be sure the soil drains well). Valerian, caraway, elderberry, and comfrey all actually improve the health of your soil when you plant them.

(4) They are stellar companion plants. You can integrate herbs into your flower, fruit and vegetable beds to help boost the health of your plants and keep pests away, too. Some pairs that grow well together are basil + tomatoes, borage + strawberries, chives + carrots, oregano + grape vines, parsley + asparagus, and sage + cabbage.

(5) Instant gratification is yours. Many herbs, such as mint, are known for spreading quickly and growing tall and strong. You don’t have to wait several seasons before you can harvest your herbs.

Planting Tip: if you give mint an inch, it will take a mile…or two. Plant mint in containers, whether on a patio or in the ground, to keep the underground runners from speading all over your yard.

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