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More fresh herbs are available locally thanks to Gardell Strites of Wholesome Gardens Produce in Bluford, IL. With his success beginning at local farmers’ markets, Strites started his family business growing herbs hydroponically, selling the plants – with roots intact – encased in a plastic sleeve. “I couldn’t get the shelf life I wanted with hydroponics, so I started experimenting and came up with the potted herbs,” he explained. They sell nearly year-round, with a short lull in January and February.
Wholesome Gardens gained organic certification in 2011. For the potted plants, Strites suggests transplanting the plant to a bigger clay pot immediately to keep it producing through the fall and winter, then transplanting it outdoors in the spring. They have also begun to offer cut herbs, the dominant herb of choice being basil.
Look for his high-quality herbs in early March in the produce department. Best-sellers include basil, cilantro and rosemary, but don’t overlook chives, dill, sage, oregano, thyme, mint and parsley. Pick up a pot and cut off what you need when you need it, or try the equally successful fresh-cut basil.
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