Growing herbs is easy and fun. Whether you grow a few herbs on your kitchen window sill or have a raised garden bed dedicated them, you will find the rewards of growing your own herbs both on your plate and in your wallet.
Walking out into your garden and snipping a little rosemary to go with your chicken, a little tarragon for your potato salad, or mint for your mojito is a truly satisfying experience.
All of the herbs we list here will need to be planted in a sunny spot (a spot that receives 6 - 8 hours of sun a day). If you are planting them in the ground amend your native soil with Foothills compost and Pike Vegetable and Flower planting soil. If you're planting in pots (most herbs grow great in containers) use a high quality potting soil that provides nutrients and adequate drainage, like Pike Potting soil.
1. Basil - you will love the fragrance of the leaves of the basil. Start with Sweet basil, it is a must-have for Caprese salads and pestos. But then, branch out and try other basils. Each has a slightly different taste and growing habit. We love Thai Basil, it's great for Asian style cooking and has a slight clove undertone. Purple Ruffles and Red Rubin have pretty purple foliage and they both have milder flavors which works great in a mixed green salad. Boxwood Basil has small leaves and a compact growing habit which makes them great for smaller containers and mixed container gardens. Basil is an annual for warm weather. Plant it in spring and enjoy them till frost. Read our previous blog to learn how to harvest and store your basil before the first frost to use all winter.
2. Chives - are easy to grow and are perennial. Plant them this year and enjoy them for years to come. Onion chives and Garlic chives have slightly different peppery onion flavors. Not only is the foliage edible, the pretty pink flowers are too. Sprinkle the pretty flowers on your next salad.
3. Oregano - if you love cooking Italian dishes, you simply MUST plant oregano in your garden. Dried oregano is a kitchen staple, but once you've cooked with the fresh stuff, you won't want to go back. Oregano is perennial too and is a spreading groundcover. Plant it where it has room to trail or spread.
4. Parsley - what you need to know most about parsley is, it's not just a garnish! Parsley is full of vitamins and minerals. Add the leaves to soups and sauces, salads and meat dishes. Parsley is a hardy biennial herb. Biennials are plants that complete their life cycle in two years. It performs great in cold and warm weather. Parsley is an essential plant for butterfly gardens as it's a host plant for caterpillars. So, be sure if you want to attract butterflies to your garden to plant extra parsley. Some for you, and some for them.
5. Tarragon - is an underused herb with amazing flavor! It has hints of licoriceand is similar to a rosemary and oregano blend only milder. Try it in stews (you'll find the aroma amazing as the stew slowly simmers), it's great with chicken, in pastas and really livens up a southern potato salad. French tarragon is the most common culinary tarragon however, it's an annual. Texas Tarragon is a semi-hardy perennial and is equally delicious. Fun fact: Tarragon is closely related to marigolds. Texas Tarragon is Tagetes lucida, the common marigold is Tagetes patula.
6. Rosemary - might be the most popular herb to use in cooking and to grow and with great reasons. Rosemary is not only perennial, it's also evergreen. Plant rosemary and you'll be able to snip it fresh from your garden to use for your Easter brunch, Fourth of July Celebrations, and Christmas dinners. It is also easy to grow because it is quite drought tolerant and requires very little maintenance. Rosemary can be used with many different dishes. Read our previous Rosemary blog and find some of our favorite ways to use Rosemary and get our Roasted Spicy Rosemary Pecans Recipe. Rosemary grows in different habits. Upright rosemary like Arp, Tuscan Blue and Barbecue grow straight up while Huntington's Carpet, Irene, and Prostratus are spreading varieties.
7. Mint - you must grow mint, and we suggest you grow it in a container. Mint is a very vigorous spreader that will root in as it grows and continue spreading. Mint is delicious on desserts, in salads, in drinks, with fruit or when chewing a leaf freshly picked from the plant. There are too many mint varieties to name and we recommend you try a few different varieties because they all have different flavors. A few of our favorites are Spearmint, Peppermint, Apple Mint, Pineapple Mint, Chocolate Mint, Grapefruit Mint, Orange Mint, and Mojito Mint.
8. Sage - is another perennial herb. Apart from it's culinary uses, there are several varieties of sage with quite beautiful foliage, most notably Tri-color Sage and Golden Sage. Fun Fact: Sage is a Salvia and therefore is closely related to the popular annual flower Salvia splendens. There are many culinary uses for sage you can pair it with eggs, chicken, polenta, pasta, beans and bread.
9. Thyme - is a beautiful creeping groundcover. All thyme is fragrant with Lemon Thyme having a particularly lovely citrus fragrance. Wooly Thyme is soft, fuzzy and gray and is a great container garden accent. Elfin Thyme grows completely flat making it a great plant to grow between pavers in a garden path. When you brush past thyme in a pathway the fragrance is a warm welcome. Snip the leaves of Thyme to use when cooking lamb, poultry, stews, chicken and tomatoes.
10. Lavender - Lavender would be a great plant to grow in your garden for its fragrance, the gorgeous flowers, and its drought tolerant nature alone. Throw in other uses and it's a 'must-have' for your garden. Lavender is easy to dry for fragrant potpourri and is lovely as a fresh cut flower. It's also growing in popularity for its culinary uses. Use lavender with chicken, ham, and salmon. And try lavender with breads, desserts, and drinks.
Herbs are versatile, hardy plants with multiple uses. Find a spot to plant an herb garden, or incorporate herbs into your existing beds and containers. Then, have fun snipping them and trying new recipes and other ways to use them.
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