Herbs are easy to grow and so delightful to smell. Chives, Mint, Basil, Oregano, and Cilantro are the five best herbs to grow for kitchen use. Most are as happy potted and in a sunny window as they are in the ground, and require little maintenance once they are established. (Note, if you are looking for super cute, easy to label containers to grow herbs in, check out this idea for painting clay pots with chalkboard paint that was featured on Tip Junkie a few weeks ago!)
This year, I have made it my summer goal to bring my aromatic garden friends, the herbs, out of my garden and into my kitchen. So let’s take a look together at five common kitchen herbs that we can grow for fresh use and have fun both growing and using them this summer.
Best Herbs Go Grow
1. Chives – perennial*
Chives have a mildly onion or garlic flavor and are a favorite addition to sour cream on top of baked potatoes. Get a starter ‘clump’ from someone who already has some or start them from seed. Plant or place your container in a full or mostly sunny location. They require little water or tending once established which makes them perfect for the beginning gardener or someone who doesn’t have a ‘green thumb’. One note though, they easily seed themselves so clip off the spent flowers to prevent unwanted spreading.
2. Mint – perennial*
Mint come in many flavorful varieties depending on your preference (spearmint, peppermint, chocolate mint, apple mint, and more). It is one of the most versatile herbs and can be used as a garnish, part of a salad or desert, steeped and drank as tea or preserved as jelly or syrup. All varieties must be planted with care as they become a weed if not contained in some way. It prefers moist and partially shady locations but tolerates full sun as well.
Who could have pesto or any Italian dish without basil? Basil is a warm season plant that does not tolerate cold well. Be sure to plant it indoors early in the spring or outdoors after all chance of frost has past. Even though it likes warm temperatures, it does not like the soil to dry out so mulch and water it regularly during dry periods. Harvest basil just before it begins to produce flowers for the best flavor. Basil does not retain its flavor well when it is dried so use it fresh or try freezing it in an ice cube to use later. (Basil photo credit to Frugal Family Feasts.)
4. Oregano – perennial*
Oregano is a common ingredient in many cultures, but most well known in Italian and Latin America foods. It starts easily from seed and should be planted in full sun. The leaves are most flavorful right before they flower, but can be harvested for use at any time. Like chives, I suggest you remove spent flowers before they produce seeds to prevent unwanted spreading.
5. Cilantro/Coriander – annual**
These herbs are common in southwestern and Latin American cooking as well as many other cuisines. Cilantro and coriander come from the same plant. It is the seeds that are known as coriander and we use the leaves and stems of the cilantro. Cilantro prefers cool moist locations and should be planted in the spring or started indoors during the heat of the summer. Harvest leaves after the plant is 6 – 8 inches tall and the seeds after they begin to dry.
* they come back every year as long as the are planted in the appropriate hardiness zone
** complete their full life cycle in one season and die; must be re-planted each year
Leave a note here on Tip Junkie or contact me at The Full Circle Gardener if you have questions about starting your own herb garden or any other garden questions. As always, Happy Gardening!
How to Garden Series:
Step 1 - Ground Site Selection
Step 2 – Improve Gardening Soils
Step 3 – Garden Beds, Pockets and Pots 101
Step 4 – What To Plant
Step 5 – Gardening with Children
Step 6 – Top 5 Easiest Vegetables to Grow From Seed
Step 7 – Cut Flower Gardening 101
Step 8 - Container Gardening 101
Step 9 – How to Grow a Salsa Garden
Step 10 – How to grow a Perennial Garden
Step 11 – How to Grow Strawberries In Your Garden
Step 12 – Six Steps to Reduce Water Needed in My Garden
Hi, I’m Stacy. I blog at The Full Circle Gardener out of my love of gardening and plants, and my desire to share that love with those around me. I have a BS in Botany and an MS in Ecology, but more importantly, I grew up helping my parents garden and started gardening for my own family in 2005. Join me in my adventures as a “full circle” gardener… starting seedlings, planting, tending, harvesting, composting, processing and of course eating the wonderful fruit of my labors!