12 Most Delicious Herbs To Grow
Spring is in full swing and now is the time to plant delicious herbs to grow. Herbs add such a wonderful flavor boost to many dishes. Even a small garnish can give extra “oomph” to a simple meal.
Herbs are very good for you too. They are packed with vitamins and nutrients. For the most part, they require a lot of sun and do not need a lot of water. Some do better in part shade so it is best to check the label when you purchase them.
Here are 12 great herbs for your garden:
Attention pesto lovers: basil is the herb for you. Basil grows fairly quickly and even if you only have one or two plants in a container you will have plenty to harvest to make pesto. Remember to pinch off any blooms or it will turn somewhat bitter.
Load up a baked potato with your favorite toppings and garnish with chives. Chives have an onion-type flavor. They grow quickly and can be harvested often. Be careful where you plant because they can become invasive. They go nicely on salads and in breads or cheesy biscuits.
You love it or you hate it. Cilantro has a distinctive flavor that is very refreshing to some or tastes like soap to others. It prefers cooler temperatures so those in hotter climates should keep it in an area out of the hot mid-day or afternoon sun. Use it in Mexican, Asian, and Indian recipes.
Pickles anyone? Dill can be used for much more than pickling. A dill sauce is a match for seafood. It is also one that does better in part sun.
5. Lemon balm
Brighten up any salad with a few leaves of lemon balm. You can use it in place of lemon peel. Brew tea with it for a refreshing drink. It’s part of the mint family and can grow rather prolifically.
There are many varieties of mint and they are all easy to grow, too easy almost. Once you plant it and it takes hold get ready for a lot of mint. Warning: it is invasive. Confine it to flower pots unless you want it to take over your garden. Use it for flavoring beverages and in many recipes from sweet to savory.
Oregano is mostly associated with Italian food. It is a terrific compliment to tomato sauces. Fresh oregano should be added at the end or it can become bitter. Chop the leaves and sprinkle on pizzas, stir into soups, or add to salad dressings.
Parsley is the garnish of all garnishes. It is sprinkled on more dishes than any other herb. Curly parsley is a little bitter for some tastes. Get the flat leaf variety for a milder flavor. Parsley does not do well in full sun, especially in the warmer climates. Make sure it gets afternoon shade. Plant extra for the caterpillars because black swallowtails love this plant. The beautiful butterflies are worth the sacrifice.
Rosemary is an herb with a strong scent and flavor. It thrives in hot, dry conditions. It can be a perennial depending on the variety and gardening zone. The thick woody stems can be used as grilling skewers. The thin leaves are chopped and used in recipes ranging from breads to stews. It is very fragrant too and does nicely as filler in floral arrangements.
Sage likes hot and dry conditions. Give it full sun and water occasionally. The purple and tri-color varieties add color to a garden. Most people relate sage to Thanksgiving with turkey and dressing. Add it to browned butter and toss with pasta to make a classic dish to be enjoyed throughout summer. Chop it and add it to salads or put the leaves under the skin before roasting chicken.
Tarragon is another herb with a strong flavor. A little goes a long way. It is used often in French cooking and is a major part of Herbes de Provence (a spice and herb blend). It goes superbly with eggs, chicken, and seafood. The classic Béarnaise sauce is flavored with it. Get French tarragon when purchasing plants. The Mexican and Russian varieties do not have as much flavor.
Common thyme is most often used in cooking. There are several other cooking varieties that have unique flavors including: lemon, caraway, orange, and lavender. All can be perennials in most gardening zones. Thyme thrives in full sun and in dry, gritty soil. The leaves can be added to salads, dressing, soups, and more. The woody stems can be used whole in cooking and roasting but should not be served. Remove the tiny leaves from the stems by pulling the stems through your fingers from top to bottom.
Do not have a garden? Herbs grow well in containers both outside and inside by a sunny window. Many can be brought indoors during the winter. Be sure to give them good drainage and water only as needed. Most herbs suffer from over-watering.
Which herbs do you want to plant? Are there ones you enjoy that are not on the list? Share your favorites and any tips you have for first time gardeners. Have fun digging in the dirt and enjoying the fresh flavors from your garden!
Featured image courtesy of thomas pix licensed via Creative Commons.