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Summer is a great time for home owners to host social gatherings with friends and family. Having a backyard setting that includes a garden with homegrown herbs can only add to the joy of eating a meal with your loved ones. A backyard garden is not only a great way to pass the time, it is also helpful in saving money at the grocery store. Fine herbs can be expensive, so many people are looking into the alternative of growing them on their own. Time as a family is enhanced by snipping off the herbs you grew, adding them to your meals and enjoying that garden-fresh flavor. This is a great way to spend time with your family through gardening and cooking.

Whether you are using lawn care experts or creating a garden on your own, the following are some of the best herbs to grow in your yard this summer:

Basil: You can grow basil in the ground or in containers. The leaves of this great culinary herb have a warm, spicy flavor. It can be used in sauces, soups, omelets and salads. Basil is also a great base for pesto and is a remarkable seasoning for poultry, meat and fish. Tip- basil does best when it is in well drained, moist soil. It also grows best in warm environments where it can receive around six hours of sun per day.

Rosemary: Rosemary will produce a fantastic flavor, whether it is used fresh or dried. It is a fine complement to red meat, lamb, fish, filet mignon, shellfish and other meat and poultry dishes. This herb also provides exceptional flavoring for potato dishes and vegetables, like onions and carrots. If planted in a pot, it can be moved inside when the weather cools down. The herb tends to dry out between watering and prefers its own space. Rosemary requires ample sunlight, good soil drainage, and air circulation to thrive. A sandy, well-drained pot with six to eight hours of sunlight should have your plants growing in no time. There is little need to fertilize rosemary plants and a basic fertilizer applied in spring should keep the plants happy and healthy. Water only enough to keep the plant from drying out.

Parsley: Parsley requires plenty of space, a little shade and good soil. In late fall, the herb can be potted and moved inside. For a fantastic flavor, the leaves can be mixed into soups, salads, stews, omelets and casseroles. In addition, parsley can be served fresh as garnish with fish, meat and various onion dishes. It is a biennial plant with bright green, feather-like leaves and it is in the same family as dill. Seeds should be planted in individual pots. For better germination, you can soak the seeds over night. Plant the seeds three to four weeks before the last spring frost because parsley is a slow starter and it can take up to three weeks for the plant to sprout. Plant the seed in moist, rich soil about six to eight inches apart if you are not using individual pots. You can use a fluorescent light to help the seedlings grow.