Rosemary is a beautiful and highly aromatic herbal plant, with needle-shaped, almost pine-like leaves and pretty purplish-blue flowers. The herb originates from the Mediterranean, with a beautiful Latin name meaning “Dew from the Sea”. Indeed, wild Rosemary can be found along the sea cliffs in Spain, Italy and Greece.
As you can imagine, Rosemary loves to live in a sunny, somewhat sandy environment with occasional sea breeze. If this doesn’t apply to your herb gardening, don’t worry, as Rosemary is easy to grow as long as there is at least 6 hours of direct sunlight, together with well-drained soil and good circulation mushroom bag .
Rosemary care is simple but we have to be careful in watering. Over-watering is the biggest cause of death for this herb, as this will lead to root rot as well as powdery mildew, which will seriously weaken the plant. Here is a practical advice: do not plant Rosemary next to the sprinklers because this is usually where the water collects and soil becomes soggy.
Air circulation is important as well because otherwise, a damp, poor circulated environment will not only attract powdery mildew, but also annoying pests such as spider mites and aphids. If occurs, simply spray with insecticidal soap.
Rosemary is not particular to the type of soil as long as it is well-drained. Generally, soil with a slightly alkaline pH (6.0-7.5) is great for the plant. Also, fertilizer is not necessary but you can choose to add fish/kelp emulsion in spring and the herb will thrive beautifully.
Rosemary is not easy to grow from seeds and it is rather slow growing at the seedling stage. Instead, propagation by division is much better for efficient herb gardening. Snip two inches from new growth springs (the soft, non-woody part), dip it in rooting hormone, and gently plant it in well-drained soil such as perlite and peat moss. After two weeks or so, you can test whether roots have come out by gently tugging on the cutting. Alternatively, you can put the cutting in a jar of water and change water every few days. It takes longer for the root to appear, generally around four weeks. Once the root appears, pinch away the central stem to encourage side growth. Follow the Rosemary care tips above and your plant will thrive year after year.
Harvesting Rosemary is easy. Cut a few sprigs and hang it upside down in a warm, dry place. When completely dried, place them into a bag and rub off the leaves from the stem. You can also keep the leaves intact and place the whole sprig in your roasting and remove it when the food is served.
Rosemary as Culinary Herb
You may not realize, but Rosemary is part of the larger Mint family, together with well-known herbs such as Basil, Oregano, Marjoram, and Lavender. It has a bitter-sweet, somewhat piney flavor, and is excellent as seasoning for all types of meat. In particular, I find that Rosemary proves especially useful in roasting lamb, as its flavor counteracts the richness and fattiness of the meat. At the same time, it does wonders in enhancing vegetables ranging from tomatoes, spinach, peas and even mushroom.
Rosemary as Medicinal Herb
In ancient Greece, Rosemary was used as a magic plant to improve memory. In the 16th century, Rosemary was widely used as a disinfectant and the herb was burned in hospitals to kill germs. It was also used as a medicine to relief gas, indigestion, toothache, headache, coughs and even baldness! Nowadays, Rosemary extract is used in making tinctures and insect repellents.