Easy to Grow Herbs
David Yost, Merrifield Plant Specialist
Herbs are a great way to take the plunge into growing your own edibles. They have a wide variety of uses, are easy to grow and fit very well even in small gardens! By establishing a herb garden on your patio, windowsill, or balcony you can reap the benefits of its fresh flavors and aromas all summer long.
Whether you are growing herbs indoors or out, it’s best to place them in a location where they will receive at least 6 hours of sunlight each day.
The following are some of the easiest types of herbs to grow:
A fast-growing herb, basil is a favorite among gardeners of all levels. Known for its rich peppery flavor and fresh aroma, it makes a great addition to pizza, pasta, salads and sauces. Basil does not need quite as much sun as other herbs and likes to be kept moist. When growing basil, be sure to prune the flowering tops to allow new leaf growth.
In addition to great flavor, chives have beautiful blooms. The leaves give a light spring onion flavor. This is probably the easiest herb to grow! To harvest it, simply cut at the base of the plant, one to two inches above the soil, as if trimming grass and bring your fresh cut chives right to the kitchen. Do not cut more than a third of the plant off at a time to allow healthy regrowth.
Mint gives off a strong aroma and flavor that can be used in appetizers, entrées, desserts and cocktails. Try adding it to homemade tzatziki or steeping to make tea. Mint is an aggressive spreader, so you will want to plant it separately from your other herbs in a pot or container. To harvest mint, cut the stems up to one inch from the ground or just pick the leaves as you need.
Delicious fresh and dried, rosemary brings wonderful flavor to your meat and poultry dishes all year long. This herb is drought tolerant and requires little maintenance, making it a great option for gardener’s who travel frequently or have a tendency to neglect their plants. There are many varieties of rosemary. Look for winter-hardy varieties such as Arp Rosemary, Trailing Rosemary and Salem Rosemary. When gathering rosemary, pick the new, fresh growth at the top of the plant, leaving the old stalk alone.
Oregano is a great choice if you love cooking Italian food. This herb’s flavor is strongest during the summer, and it is very to grow at home. You can harvest oregano leaves as you need them. The leaves have the best flavor flavor right before the flowers bloom in the summer.
Lavender’s vibrant color and lovely scent will make your herb garden pop. This versatile herb can be used in baking, cooking, teas, candles and even in a variety of home remedies. It is very easy to grow, just plant it in well-drained soil and your lavender will flourish. When harvesting, treat it the same as rosemary, leaving the old stalk alone and cutting off newer growth.
Thyme is great to use when cooking meats and vegetables. This low-maintenance herb thrives when you let it be and allow nature to take its course. Collect thyme leaves as you need them, although they will be packed with the most flavor in the summer just before the plants bloom.