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Growing Bay (Laurus nobilis)

Grow your own bay leaves for seasoning spaghetti, Italian dishes, lentils, and more.

Sweet bay is hardy in zones 8 and warmer where it thrives in moist, rich soil and full to partial sun.

Gardeners in other areas can grow it in a container and treat it like a houseplant. Grow it in a sunny, south-facing window year-round or move it outside to a slightly shaded location for the summer. Water container plants whenever the top inch of potting mix is dry.

Move indoor plants to a cooler area for fall and winter. Keep the soil slightly drier and do not fertilize until spring.

Harvest bay leaves as needed throughout the year. Their flavor is most intense in mid to late summer. Pick older leaves with the better flavor first and use fresh bay leaves within a couple days of harvest to maintain their flavor.

A bit more information: One way to preserve bay leaves is by drying individual leaves.  Remove the best leaves and lay them flat on a paper towel so they are not touching. Cover with another paper towel and layer of leaves. Repeat for a total of five layers. Place in a warm, dry location or microwave small quantities until the leaves are thoroughly dry.

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