You’ll be surprised what you can create with just 10 herbs
Seasoning and flavoring our favorite recipes with herbs and spices is mostly a matter of personal taste. We choose harmonious flavors by tasting and smelling as we cook. It’s even better if the fresh flavors can come directly from our own herb kitchen garden.
We’ve chosen these 10 herbs for every kitchen garden for several reasons:
- They are all easy to grow and require no special gardening knowledge
- They are perennial plants. With a one-time investment of a few dollars, you can have fresh herbs for years. The exception to this list is basil, which is an annual.
- Herbs have no special soil requirements and most are happy without fertilizer.
- They are commonly used and recipes abound!
To serve 4 people with a sauce, stew, soup, or sauté, use about 2 teaspoons of minced fresh herbs. Before using fresh herbs, rub the leaves between your hands, then mince them using a sharp knife or by snipping them with kitchen shears.
In general use the 2 teaspoons to 4 people ratio for all fresh herbs and adjust has your taste dictates.
Use 1 teaspoon of dried herbs to serve 4 people or about half the amount of fresh herbs. Dried herbs can be steeped in warm stock or another liquid before adding them to recipes. This will enhance their flavor.
Rosemary may be the easiest herb to grow. Purchase a plant or get a few stalks from a friend and learn how to root a cutting. Rosemary prefers a dry, warm spot in full sun. It does not like to have wet feet, so be careful not to have standing water about. You’ll find it is a great addition to your kitchen garden because it is popular with pollinators.
Protect it from frost damage if the temperature dips below the teens.
Pinch Rosemary regularly for use in culinary creations and to keep it from becoming too branchy. Freeze a whole sprig and remove leaves as needed. They’ll be even stronger tasting than fresh picked.
Best culinary varieties: choose upright plants with broad aromatic leaves. Favorites include ‘Tuscan Blue’, ‘Blue Spires’, and ‘Miss Jessup’s Upright’
10 Delicious Hydrating DIY Infused Water Recipes – Lemon Rosemary looks fabulous!
Rosemary Focaccia Bread from Once Upon a Chef
What would Thanksgiving turkey be without sage? This herb makes a great addition to your morning omelet and sage-herbed butter is fantastic. It is a perennial plant that will grow to between 1 and 4 feet depending on the variety you’ve chosen.
Easily grown from seed or cuttings, sage enjoys full sun and average, well-drained soil. Other than that, it requires no fertilizer and has minimal care requirements. Older leaves are more strongly flavored than new growth.
Best culinary varieties: any common variety of Salvia officinalis will work. Consider ‘Tricolor’ for a different look in the kitchen garden.
Brown Butter Sage from Learning & Yearning
Homemade Soda with Sage Leaves from Homestead-Honey
Homemade Sage Stuffing Recipe from 104 Homestead
Thyme isn’t much to look at and you might even miss it if you weren’t aware of its powerful fragrance. It is easy to grow from transplants or seed and has many varieties – from lemon thyme to wooly thyme, to creeping thyme. You are sure to find a few to complement your kitchen garden.
Thyme is a perennial that does not like overly rich or moist soil and does not require any kind of regular fertilizing. Plant in full sun or give it afternoon shade and cut it back in the spring for a new batch of fresh leaves.
Best culinary varieties: the best flavor comes from low-growing, shrubby thyme known as English, French, Lemon, or Winter Thyme.
Wild Berry and Nectarine Galette with Goat Cheese and Fresh Thyme from Grow Forage Cook Ferment
Calendula and Thyme Shortbread Cookies from Grow Forage Cook Ferment
There are many varieties of basil to grow in the kitchen garden and every one of them has a culinary use that makes this annual plant worth growing.
Basil has a rich and spicy flavor with a hint of mint and clove. It can be used fresh, frozen or dried. Choose from large leaf, cinnamon, lemon, and Thai varieties for starters, but you can purchase seed for at least half a dozen other flavors.
Basil is well suited to container gardening and I’ve has great success growing big basil plants in pots. The key is to pinch the plant so it grows bushy and full.
Best culinary varieties: We couldn’t choose! Get an idea from these 62 varieties at Richter’s Herbs
Basil Lemonade from Alaska from Scratch
Chickpea and Tomato Salad with Fresh Basil from Green Lite Bites
Basil, Garlic and Chives Sauté Cubes from PreparednessMama
Who doesn’t love these culinary giants! Easily grown from seed or root division, a chive plant will attract pollinators and give you years of flavorful cuttings. Purchase a big plant from the local nursery and split it into clumps, then share it around in several locations.
This herbaceous perennial (see note)will happily grow in any area of your kitchen garden and requires little maintenance. The leaves will die back in the winter and sprout again in the spring.
NOTE: What is a herbaceous perennial you ask? This plant will die back to the ground in the winter and come back with new leaves in the spring. All other perennials will keep their leaves throughout the year.
Best culinary varieties: Common chives can be eaten raw or cooked. Garlic Chives have the taste of onion and garlic. Giant Siberian Chives have a richer flavor than the common variety.
Chive Blossom Oil and Vinegar from Grow Forage Cook Ferment
Bacon, Cheddar and Chive Scones from Southern Living
Chive and Lemon Zest Butter from Bite By Michelle
There really are no directions about growing lemon balm. It will grow even if you don’t want it to. It’s a member of the mint family and its roots will creep throughout the garden, so keep it contained.
Lemon balm is a herbaceous perennial and will come back every year from roots. If you let it, lemon balm will self-seed every year before it dies back. For the best lemon flavor, harvest leaves just as the flowers are beginning to form. Cut a sprig of Lemon Balm any time to add lemon to your tea or salad.
10 Ways to Use Lemon Balm from Homespun Seasonal Living
Lemon Balm Iced Tea from Learning and Yearning
Mint is so versatile that you should grow several flavors in the kitchen garden. You will appreciate the incredible range of flavors these plants possess. The aromatic nature of the mint family plants come from their high levels of volatile oils, which also account for the rich flavors prized in cooking.
A herbaceous perennial, mint is well known for overtaking many a garden and is easy to propagate from cuttings or layering. Be sure to contain it in a pot or plant it in an area where it can grow wild.
Best culinary varieties: Spearmint, peppermint, and chocolate mint are the most common and make wonderful herbal tea blends. Look for apple mint, orange mint, or pineapple mint for variety.
If you have 4 cups of leaves try making Mint Wine with this recipe from Pixie’s Pocket
Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream from Recipes to Nourish
Another easy to grow herb is Oregano. Purchase a plant, or root a cutting, and plant it in the kitchen garden. This perennial prefers a dry, warm spot in full sun and needs little care once established.
Oregano is well known as a culinary herb and is a staple in tomato sauce. The oregano herb has a warming and aromatic flavor which can be bitter due to the volatile oil content, especially when harvested fresh.
It enhances cheese and eggs and adds dimension to yeast bread, marinated vegetables, mushrooms, and black beans.
Create an easy appetizer by drizzling a chunk of feta cheese with a bit of olive oil. Then sprinkle on minced fresh oregano and serve with crusty bread and ripe tomatoes. Yum!
Oregano Infused Honey from Homespun Seasonal Living
Fresh Italian Dressing from Cooking With Curls
You may not know Lovage, but you should. This herbaceous perennial grows up to 6 feet tall and the leaves, stems, and seeds taste like celery. It makes a wonderful addition as a seasoning to soup and stew, or with potatoes, poultry, and rice.
Grow lovage in full sun or partial shade and give it a medium amount of water. If you are small space gardening, you can keep it contained in a pot to reduce the size of the plant.
Blanch and marinate lovage stems and serve as a first course, as you would asparagus or leeks.
Lovage, Lettuce, Pea, and Cucumber Soup from The Guardian
Creamy Lovage and Mustard Salad Dressing from Food.com
There are many types of lavender. Some get long stalks. Some get really big flower heads. Some are taller than others. All lavender is fragrant. In fact, lavender is known medicinally to sooth and calm nerves.
It is also great in the kitchen.
Lavender requires full sun and free-draining lean soil, with little amendments. Cutting back after flowering may encourage a second bloom.
Best culinary varieties: Look for sweet-scented kinds including Lavandula angustifolia, ‘Hidcote’ or ‘Munstead’.
For grilling, add fresh or dried lavender stems and leaves to the white-ashed coals during the last 5 minutes of cooking. They will give a mild but smoky aroma to your creations.
Blueberry Lavender Jam from Nitty Gritty Life
Lavender Bundt Cake from Homespun Seasonal Living
Try your hand at growing these 10 herbs in your kitchen garden. They will bring you years of flavorful delight as you add fresh herbs to your culinary creations.