What’s better than a home-cooked meal? A home-cooked meal made with fresh from the garden ingredient! Not everyone’s a green thumb, nor have space or inclination to keep a full-scale vegetable garden. An array of freshly grown herbs will certainly give your cooking that little bit extra and even the brownish of thumbs can have great success. There’s nothing worse than spending money on overpriced packaged herbs from the supermarket only to use a handful and have the rest wilt away.
Save yourself money and be a star in the kitchen by growing these 10 easy-to-grow kitchen herbs.
1. Sweet Basil
Basil is one of the most popular herbs, it’s easy to grow from seed and popular in many modern European dishes. It’s great to add to a tomato pasta sauce, fresh pesto or even as a substitute for Thai basil in a green curry.
- Keep the soil moist. In a hot area, use mulch around the basil plants (the mulch will help keep the soil moist).
- Make sure to pick the leaves regularly. This encourages growth throughout summer.
- After 6 weeks, pinch off the centre shoot to prevent early flowering. If flowers do grow, just cut them off.
- If the weather is going to be cold, harvest your basil beforehand, as the cold weather will destroy your plants.
There are a number of varieties of mint herbs available, from Vietnamese mint to spearmint. These herbs grow well in moist, shady places, including in pots on your balcony or patio. Try ripping up a small handful of leaves and adding to drinks, salad and fruit salads. You could even infuse your own tea!
- Minimal care is needed for mint. For outdoor plants, use a light mulch. This will help keep the soil moist and keep the leaves clean.
- For indoor plants, be sure to water them regularly to keep the soil evenly moist. Place in a bright spot out of direct sunlight.
- Initially, mint plants are quite well contained with an upright growth habit, but if left to its own devices, can quickly run rampant with underground rhizomes. This makes mint the perfect choice for container gardening.
These perennial herbs flourishes in pots as well as planted directly in the garden. Chives produce pink edible flowers and their onion-like flavour which makes them ideal for dishes like salads, garnishes and omelettes.
- It is important to give chives consistent watering throughout the growing season for high yields. Moisten the soil thoroughly when watering.
- Use mulch to conserve moisture and keep the weeds down.
- Minimal care is needed for fully grown plants.
- After the flowers bloom, be sure to remove them so that the seeds aren’t spread.
Arguably, the most common and broadly used herbs getting around. The standard varieties of parsley are either flat-leaf and curly, both of which are easy to grow from seed or seedlings in a semi-shaded place with moist soil, again making them perfect for pots. This herb is super versatile, so try adding it to a wide range of sauces or even using it as a simple garnish to add a hit of colour and zing.
- Be sure to water the seeds often while they germinate so that they don’t dry out.
- Throughout the summer, be sure to water the plants evenly.
A woody, evergreen shrub, rosemary is a hardy plant that loves full sun. It’s easy to grow in a container and also makes a great hedge. It goes perfectly with lamb and roasted vegetables. Quite often, rosemary is grown simply for its beautiful fragrance emitted when disturbed. Large bushes are great in the gardens surrounding your doorway when a quick brush with the leg when walking by releases a burst of fragrance.
- After the plant flowers, remember to trim the plant.
- For fresh rosemary in the winter, grow the plant indoors in a pot. Be sure to put it in bright light and cool temperatures.
- Prune regularly so that the plant doesn’t get leggy.
- Water the plants evenly throughout the growing season.
- Be sure to get cuttings or divide the plant for the next season.
Oregano is one of those long-lasting herbs that grow well in moist conditions in full sun, like a pot on a hot balcony. With its lovely mix of sweetness and spice, it goes well with tomatoes, eggplant and lamb. An Italian staple!
- Allow oregano to grow to about 10 centimetres and then pinch or trim lightly to encourage a denser and bushier plant.
- Regular trimming will not only cause the plant to branch again, but also avoid legginess.
- Oregano doesn’t need quite as much water as most herbs. As the amount of watering depends on many variables, just water when the soil feels dry to the touch. Remember that it’s better to water thoroughly and less often.
- If you have a container, water until the water comes out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the container.
- To ensure the best-quality plants, thin out plants that are 3 or 4 years old in the early spring. Oregano is self-seeding, so the plants will easily grow back.
- You can divide the plants in late spring if you want to put one indoors.
Thyme is gorgeous, but as far as herb go, it is one that loves a bit space. Use it as a groundcover or let it grow over the sides of pots in a sheltered, sunny spot. Add thyme to chicken dishes for a flavour match that’s hard to beat!
- Water normally and remember to trim the plants.
- Prune the plants back in the spring and summer to contain the growth. You can take some cuttings and plant them indoors in pots, too.
- If you have cold winters, remember to lightly mulch around the plants after the ground freezes.
Best grown in full sun, dill can grow up to one metre tall so will require cutting back at times. Dill complements fish dishes and is great added to flavoured butters, oils and dips.
- Water the plants freely during the growing season.
- In order to ensure a season-long fresh supply of dill, continue sowing seeds every few weeks. For an extended harvest, do not allow flowers to grow on the plants.
- If the soil remains undisturbed throughout the growing season, more dill plants will grow the next season.
Sage is a pretty, perennial herb that will look gorgeous in your garden. Water it sparingly and plant in full sun for the best results. Sage complements pork and adds a lovely flavour to stuffings and soups.
- Be sure to water the young plants regularly until they are fully grown so that they don’t dry out.
- Prune the heavier, woody stems every spring.
- It’s best to replace the plants every 4 to 5 years to ensure the best quality.
10. Coriander or Cilantro
Coriander has a fresh, citrus-like flavour and aroma. Best grown in cooler months, it suits well-drained soil in either garden beds or pots. It’s a great addition to Asian dishes – add it at the last minute to retain flavour. The stem and roots hold the most flavour, don’t waste any of it!
- Water the seedlings regularly throughout the growing season. They require about 25mm of water per week for best growth.
- Thin seedlings to 150mm apart so that they have room to develop healthy leaves.
- Once the plants are established, they do not need as much water per week. Keep them moist, but be careful not to overwater them.
- To help prevent weeds, mulch around the plants as soon as they are visible above the soil. You can also till shallowly to help prevent root damage from weeds.