In the kitchen, herbs add flavor and depth to nearly any dish. But aside from adding unique flavors to your food and beauty in your garden, herbs can also serve other essential roles in your garden such as: attracting pollinators who will also pollinate your other food plants (flower pollen provides fat and protein and nectar provides a sugar-rich carbohydrate), serving as host plants for pollinators’ offspring, and attracting predatory insects to help control pest insect populations. Most herbs are also fairly easy to grow, especially long-lived perennial herbs that get larger and stronger from year to year. (If you’ve ever seen a giant 10+ year old rosemary plant, you get the idea.) The same intense flavors and smells that make herbs useful as a spice for humans are also good olfactory defenses against insects that might otherwise eat them. Just like you, an insect might enjoy a taste of rosemary, but not a meal full. You just need to make sure you know basic care instructions for the particular herb you want to grow AND are certain that it can grow in your climate zone. The other important thing to know is that there are various stages of an herb’s life cycle. During the period in which it’s putting on vegetative growth, pollinators will have no reason to forage the plant (although they may be a host plant for pollinator caterpillars at that stage). However, once your herbs start flowering, expect to see a diversity of pollinators foraging from dawn to dusk. Now, are you ready to grow herbs for both your kitchen and your pollinators?
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