There are literally thousands of different things that you can grow in your backyard veggie patch but none of them will grow quite as well as Herbs. Most of the Herbs that you can buy in the store are very easy to grow in your garden. Nothing is better than going out and picking some fresh herbs to use in your favorite recipe. Every year you can enjoy harvesting the very best herbs that you can get. This article is going to highlight the best herbs you can grow in your home garden along with some of their uses.
Sweet Basil is one of the most popular kitchen herbs that any gardener can grow. Known for the flavor that it adds to pizza, pasta and many other recipes. Basil can be used fresh or dried and is great for cooking or for creating an amazing fragrant atmosphere in your home. Basil also offers several medicinal uses, including as a deodorizer, anti-arthritic, topical antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and as a pest deterrent. When eaten, Basil provides us healthy doses of vitamins A, K, and C, as well as magnesium, iron, potassium, and calcium.
Grow your own by starting seeds indoors in the early spring, then transplanting outdoors at least two weeks after danger of frost has passed. Basil can also be started by cuttings taken from an established plant. To get the most fresh basil leaves from your plants, be sure to remove the flower stalks from mature growth when they appear. For more info check out our article How to Grow Basil.
Much like other Alliums (garlic, onions, shallots) growing chives can help to drive away harmful insect pests like aphids and mosquitoes from your garden. Also characteristic of Alliums, chives are high in sulfur – a natural antibiotic. When ingested, chives offer anti-inflammatory and digestive properties.
Dried or fresh chives make excellent additions to fish, soups, potatoes, and vegetable dishes. Dice up immature, unopened flower buds for a light onion-like flavor that is slightly more pungent than chopped chive leaves, but less over-powering than onions themselves.
Grow your own chives by sowing indoors, then transplanting outdoors in the spring or fall. Chives may also be sown directly outside. After a few seasons you will have a nice patch of chives that you divide and plant in other locations. If you have an abundance o fresh chives you can preserve by drying or by adding fresh herbs to oil, butter, or vinegar.
Cilantro is one of our favorite herbs to use in our cooking to the point where we cannot grow enough. It is high in antioxidant vitamin C, as well as several other vitamins and minerals. The powerful flavor and aroma of Cilantro makes an excellent seasoning for fresh made salsa, pico de gallo an many other dishes. Coriander seed adds a warm spicy flavor to chicken, vegetables, and soups.
You can grow your own cilantro or coriander by sowing seeds directly outdoors or starting seeds indoors. Cilantro can be grown in any season that you want but I find that cilantro grows the best for me during the fall and winter. I live in the Dallas area zone 8a and during the spring/summer cilantro will bolt rather quickly as temperatures rise. Once flower buds develop, leaves will become scarce. Harvest cilantro leaves as available and allow to re-sow from coriander seeds that drop from harvested plants to continue growing throughout the season. Harvest coriander by clipping dried brown seed stalks and placing them upside-down in a brown paper bag. After a few days, seed pods will split and release coriander seeds.
Oregano is another very versatile herb that can be used in a number different ways. Oils distilled from oregano leaves can be used to treat respiratory sicknesses, digestive upset, infections, skin conditions including dandruff and psoriasis, muscle aches and joint pain. Oregano is also a natural insect repellent.
In cooking, Oregano is often used for Italian and Greek-style dishes. It also makes an excellent seasoning for egg dishes, meats, poultry, legumes, and breads.
Grow your own Oregano by sowing seeds indoors, then transplanting outdoors in early spring. When harvesting, remember that both Oregano leaves and flowers are edible and possess similar flavors. During cold months, oregano should be mulched or covered with a cold frame to protect roots from freezing depending on what zone you live in. In zone 8a where I live it is a hardy perennial.
As a natural anti-bacterial remedy, parsley can bolster your immune system and neutralize bad breath. Parsley is also a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory which makes it great for digestion and detoxification. In the kitchen, parsley makes a great addition to spice up your veggie dishes.
Grow your own parsley by sowing indoors, then transplanting outdoors in early spring. Mulch around plants to keep soil moist, but avoid letting mulch touch the stems to prevent rot. To promote thicker foliage, cut parsley down to stems in early fall. In the second year of growth, once flower stalk appear, parsley becomes bitter and unpalatable. If you let your parsley go to seed, it will re-seed itself for the following year and provide you with future harvests.
Rosemary is another must have in any backyard veggie garden or kitchen herb garden. It adds an incredible flavor and aroma to recipes. The pungent aroma of rosemary is another natural deterrent for a number of garden pests including mosquitoes and other insects.
Rosemary is also a powerful natural remedy for soothing indigestion, neutralizing bad breath, and relieving pain. Use rosemary oil or herb-infused water to clear up dandruff, promote hair growth, and relieve skin irritation. The aroma of rosemary can help to clear the mind, calm anxiety, and relieve stress.
Add fresh or dried rosemary to fish, lamb, chicken, and recipes that use wild game. Rosemary also compliments beans and sautéed mushrooms.
You can grow your own by sowing indoors, then transplanting outdoors in the spring. However, rosemary is much easier to propagate by cuttings as the germination rate of its seeds is very low. Rosemary does well with mulch to keep roots moist in summer and insulated in winter.
Sage tea is a great herbal remedy to, reduce fever, and calm anxiety from brain and nervous disorders. It can also be used to soothe gastric ailments brought on by stress and to treat infections of the mouth and throat.
For cooking, dried or fresh sage makes an excellent seasoning in sauces, poultry dishes, and of course it’s a staple in every house on Thanksgiving. Sage also produces edible flowers in the early summer which make an interesting addition to salads. Both sage leaves and flowers make excellent additions to herbal tea blends.
Grow your own sage by sowing indoors, then transplanting outdoors in the spring. Sage may also be sown directly outside in the springtime. Sage may also be grown from cuttings taken from an established plant. For both leaves and flowers, allow sage to grow as normal. Harvest flowers when buds are almost fully open. To prevent flowering, simply trim new growth often and remove any buds that appear.
Thyme is another must for any herb garden. It is a good source of antioxidant vitamin A which is beneficial to eye, skin, hair, and nail health. Thyme is also anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antibiotic. Sip Thyme-infused tea for an effective natural remedy against colds, coughs, and sore throats. As a topical treatment, use thyme oil to help soothe and heal acne, eczema, and psoriasis.
In the kitchen, Thyme pairs well with other herbs like parsley, onion, garlic, and ginger to add complexity to their individual flavors. Try thyme as a flavoring in stocks, soups, and sauces.
Grow your own Thyme by sowing seeds indoors, then transplant outdoors in early spring. Thyme makes a beautiful creeping ground cover that also has the benefit of blocking weeds. The tiny blossoms of this marvelous herb will also attract beneficial pollinators like honey bees to your garden. Give it a gentle pruning in the spring after danger of frost has passed, beginning during the second year of growth.
I want to strongly encourage you to grow an easy to maintain herb garden with some of our favorites. Herbs can provide you with a simple but yet very fulfilling way to enjoy fresh produce from your garden.