Why You Should Be Planting Herbs
Herbs are one of the most tolerant (and potentially prolific) plants in the garden. As long as there is no snow on the ground, the herbs you have in your garden can be harvested. Enjoy fragrance in your garden, in your home and in your cooking pot by adding easy to grow herbs to your garden or potted containers. If you want to know the best herbs to grow look no further as we take you through the essential herbs to include in your garden and how to get the most our of your plantings.
Where to plant herbs
Because we so often use them in cooking, the best place to plant herbs is somewhere close to the kitchen. Its very satisfying to slip in to your garden or out onto your balcony to snip off those herbs that you need for cooking. Having fresh flavors growing within easy access is much easier than having to shell out a few dollars for every bunch of herbs you need to cook with, not to mention its so much cheaper!
Herbs will grow well in a garden, but they tend to grow well – this means that they can quickly grow out of control if you are not vigilant about taking care of them. Herbs are also easy to grow in a pot and there is less chance of them growing too prolifically and taking over your garden bed.
My Top Ten Best Herbs To Grow
The best herbs to grow are herbs which you already love to cook with and look at in your garden. It's always a good idea to add one or two you may not have tried yet to expand your palette, but in essence if you are going to eat and enjoy it, then its a great herb for you to grow in your garden. It's not essential to grow all of these herbs, but they are my favorites amongst the easy to grow herbs and the ones I use reguarly in my cooking.
Rosmary – this is a lovely herb which can be used either fresh or dried. This plant is unique as it prefers drier conditions to most herbs and so it may need its own container or individual spot in the garden. If you do plant this herb out in a pot you can easily move it indoors when the weather gets too cold outside.
Basil – one of my all time favorites, this is a fragrant herb which adds pizazz to sauces, pesto, Italian cooking and so much more. remember to keep tripping the leaves so that it doesnt go to seed, although if you let it seed at the end of the season you will have new basil plants popping up in spring ready to start providing you with more basil this year.
Thyme – this is an herb you can use all year round adding flavour to wintery stews and a delicious flavor to summer grilling marinades. It's a good thing that you will have a reason to be snipping this plant back all year round because once it gets going it will cover a lot of ground very quickly. A beautifully thick ground cover as well as a tasty and fragrant culinary herb.
Sage- easy to plant, this is an herb which requires regular trimming or else it can get woody and very large. You can use sage extensively in cooking – it pairs beautifully with pork, white beans, with lemon as a stuffing for poultry and many different pasta dishes.
Parsley- This is a wonderfully fragrant herb which will grow almost all year long outdoors and if you plant it in a container you can easily move it indoors when you need to for year round fresh parsley. There is sure to bea variety which suits your needs (or grow more than one!). Fantastic for tabouli, a garnish or adding to salads, parsley is full of nutrients and tastes great too.
Mint – one of my favorite herbs, although I suspect I have written that line more than once already, mint is a lovely addition to any garden. It will add a variation to salads, garnish desserts, make a calming and tasty tea and can even be used to fragrance your home with a few well placed bunches. Mint likes to be a little damp, if you plant it under a tap you will find that it is hard to kill off, and if you don't trim it regularly you may find it takes off and grows like a forrest fire. Growing it in a container will help to keep your mint under control.
Oregano- a traditional Mediterranean herb, this makes cooking your red sauce that much tastier. add it to pizza bases with a little olive oil, add fresh leaves to your salads and chop up to serve with sliced tomatoes. A subtle flavor and scent, this is a lovely herb and one of the more 'polite' in that it wont try and take over your entire garden.
Tarragon – This herb pairs beautifully with fish, eggs and chicken. It can be bruised slightly and added to vinegar and is the main flavor ingredient of bernaise sauce. If you love to cook French food, tarragon is a must in your herb garden. This is a plant which also needs regular trimming so that it doesnt grow too much. It likes a hot sunny spot and not too much watering.
Cilantro- fragrant, easy to grow and a lovely addition to salads, stir frys and guacamole. If you plant a few seeds every few weeks over the planting season you will have a continuous supply throughout the summer. It goes well in a container, so if you want to grow it year round indoors you can do so froma sunny spot on your window sill.
How To Grow Herbs In Your Garden
Like all gardens, you need to put in a little thought when you are planting herbs. Consider where you want to plant them – are you going to want them near your kitchen so that you can slip out and pick what ye require? Are you going to grow them in containers so that you can easily move them about? Are you thinking about placing them into a windowbox in your kitchen for easy access?
Growing conditions for herbs
Like all plants, different herbs like different conditions, although they are all rather hardy. The less charitable gardeners I know have in fact compared them to weeds… Some herbs will prefer drier conditions and others like their feet a little damper. When planting herbs you should plant out herbs with similar growing conditions together, for example, if you plant rosemary and mint together neither plant is going to thrive. It would be better to plant them separately as they do not make good neighbors.
Usually herbs will grow well in rich soil (excluding lavender, rosemary and tarragon) and appreciate regular watering and good drainage is a must. They will grow in a warm, sheltered position in your garden and appreciate a sunny spot but will grow in shadier areas as well, albeit a little slower. Bear in mind that they do need sunshine – they wont grow in complete shade with the exception of perhaps mint.
Herbs are a wonderful addition to any garden. They will grow in your vegetable garden, in pots or in a garden bed speciafically designed for herbs. Look at the growing conditions which suit your chosen herbs best, and if you are companion planting in beds or containers, make sure that you plant like plants with like. Your kitchen will be fragrant with the addition of cullinary herbs in no time, indoor or outdoor there is nothing stopping you from growing herbs today. If you are considering planting out herbs into your vegetable garden you should look at our article on potager gardens, where garden beds are created to include flowers, herbs, trees and vegetables into a kitchen garden that resembles a work of art.