Looking for ideas for which herbs to grow in your garden? One rule of thumb is to grow what you like to eat or cook with! If you eat a lot of garlic or basil, then you should be growing it yourself. Here’s a roundup of popular herbs to give you some ideas on what you might want to grow for your kitchen garden this season.
Basil, Sweet (Ocimum basilicum)
Sweet basil is a tender annual, and is part of the Lamiaceae family. It grows to a height of about 1 ½ feet and has green leaves that are pointed and oval. White flowers develop in the summer.
Grow sweet basil from seed after the chance of spring frost has long passed. Pinching the stems will promote a fuller, more compressed plant. You can pick the leaves about six weeks after planting the seedling.
Sweet basil is a must in pasta and tomato dishes.
Bay is a small tree with a maximum height of about 20 to 25 feet and is often kept pruned to a manageable height. It is a member of the Lauraceae family. Bay is not a good herb for containers because it grows very slowly.
Its aromatic leaves add a nice subtle flavor to stews and sauces.
Chervil is a hardy biennial that often acts like an annual. It grows to approximately 1 or 2 feet, has fern-like leaves, and is a member of the Apiaceae family. Small white flowers grow from spring to summer.
It has a peppery taste that goes well with chives and tarragon in sauces and other dishes.
Chives are hardy perennials, which grow to approximately 1 foot in height and are a member of the Alliaceae family. They have beautiful pink or purple flowers. When the plants get too packed together, they are easy to separate and replant.
They have a taste similar to onions, but not as strong. They are an absolute must in many oriental dishes and are also excellent in salads and with potatoes.
Dill, also called dill weed, is an annual that grows to about 5 feet. It has yellow-green flowers which develop into seeds in late summer. It is a member of the Apiaceae family.
Dill has a taste that is similar to fennel and is delicious mixed with heavy cream and garlic for tasty salad dressing.
Garlic is a popular herb that has been cultivated for thousands of years. Today, wild garlic only grows in Central Asia in Turkmenistan. Wild varieties probably grew over a much larger area of Asia at one time. Garlic has been cultivated for at least 5000 years. It was first used extensively in China and Persia, as well Egypt, Greece and Rome.
There are several excellent varieties of mint, which are in the Lamiaceae family. As an example, Mentha spicata is a hardy perennial that grows to approximately 2 feet in height. It is easy to grow and spreads underground by root stolons (similar to the way grass and bamboo spread) and can be somewhat invasive. Its invasive tendency can be abated by growing it in containers.
Mint makes a delicious jelly and can add character to salads and many other dishes.
Parsley is a hardy biennial that grows to a height of approximately 1 ½ feet and is a member of the Apiaceae family. Off-white flowers appear in the summer of the second season and the seeds will fall to the ground and sprout in the next season.
Parsley adds a distinctive note to many dishes and is also used as a garnish in soups and salads.
There are many varieties of sage, from Jim Sage to Pineapple Sage. They are annuals that grow from 1 ½ feet to 4 feet and are members of the Lamiaceae family.
There are a number of colors and leaf shapes that you can find at your local nursery. Many can last through the winter.
Sage adds distinction to turkey and other poultry, as well as stuffing. An additional asset is the beautiful aroma and color it adds to your garden.
Tarragon is a perennial that grows to approximately 2 feet and is a member of the Asteraceae family. It does well in partial shade.
It has a tart flavor that is tantalizing in seafood and poultry dishes. The leaves must be used while fresh because they soon loose their flavor. Tarragon leaves blend well with parsley, chives, and chervil.
Thyme is a woody, shrub-like, hardy perennial that grows to approximately 1 foot tall and is a member of the Labiatae family. Make sure you use a well-drained soil for growing thyme.
Thyme adds zest to poultry and pasta sauce. It is a common herb is Cajun cooking.