Herby days

When it suddenly becomes spring, I want my garden to produce now. I want fresh, tender veggies and juicy fruits, but I still have weeks to wait.

Fortunately, herbs give almost immediate gratification. If you’re really in a hurry, get plant starts from a local nursery or the farmers market. Thyme, oregano, rosemary and sage will produce for years if you plant them in a place they love. Put in cilantro now, as it will bolt when the summer (and tomatoes) come around.

I’m also giving some lesser-known herbs a try. Borage has lovely blue flowers and tastes slightly like cucumber. It grew for me in San Francisco, so it likes a bit of cool weather.

Epazote thrives here, and you can add the pungent leaves to beans to give them a creamy texture. I also love a little lemon verbena, with its bright citrus flavor, on grilled fish or chicken, or tossed into a spring salad. Even if you barely cook, add some fresh herbs to your meals for finish and flavor.