There’s nothing that quite beats being able to harvest fresh herbs from your very own garden, be it a formal garden outside or an indoor herb garden on a windowsill. Every chef should have their own herb garden, but with that comes the question of what are the best herbs to grow. While you should really be sure to only grow herbs that you’ll actually use, there are a few staples that should be in most gardens.
Keep in mind that if you’re going to grow these herbs all in one giant container you’ll want to avoid mixing thirsty plants (like chives, mint, and lemon balm) with plants that require good drainage (like oregano, rosemary, and thyme).
Here are 13 herbs that I highly recommend in every garden:
Chives are the easiest herb to grow, without a doubt, and they can handle cold weather fairly well. The leaves are delicious paired with eggs, fish, soup, potatoes, salads, or just about anything else. The flower buds can also be eaten and are similar to scallops.
This delicious and hardy plant is fairly easy to grow, although it will require some mulch or something in winter. It’s excellent with eggs and is commonly found in both Greek and Italian cooking. You can eat both the leaves and the flowers.
Sweet basil is probably the most common kitchen herb and can be used in a variety of dishes. The leaves are the only part that is eaten, but they are also insect repellents as well. Basil is very frost sensitive, though, so you will likely have to bring it inside in the winter.
Rosemary is a common herb for lamb, fish, chicken, and other wild game. It is a very strong insect repellent and can also offer a variety of health benefits. The plant is best grown from clippings, if possible, as the seeds can be difficult to germinate.
5. Lemon Balm
Technically a member of the mint family, lemon balm has a light citrus aroma that makes it delicious in salads and when made into a tea. As it is in the mint family, you’ll want to plant this in a container or it may take over your garden. It doesn’t deal well with extreme cold temperatures, but can be cut back all the way to rejuvenate.
6. Lemon Thyme
Many people prefer to grow thyme, but I find that lemon thyme has a better taste (as most recipes with thyme also call for lemon) and it smells heavenly. The leaves are great in soups and any other recipe that calls for thyme and lemon. This plant is technically a ground cover plant, so make sure you plant it near the edge of your container or garden for best results.
Sage is a great medicinal herb which can be used for a variety of maladies, but it is also delicious in soups and made into a tea. Much like mint and lemon balm, sage can quickly get out of control so make sure that you plant it in a container. Sage can be propagated from cuttings, and you’ll have to prune the woody branches in the spring.
While personally I don’t use a lot of dill, I know people who do. This little plant is pretty easy to grow although it doesn’t transplant well, so make sure you plant it wherever you want it. Dill won’t be able to handle frost, so plan to bring it inside.
Parsley is really best used fresh and it has such a distinctive yet mild taste, it’s great in a variety of dishes, especially veggie dishes. It can take forever for parsley to grow from a seed, but it will be harvestable for around two years. Once it flowers, it won’t taste as good, so you’ll have to restart it to get that delicious taste back.
lavender can be used in a variety of dishes including baking and teas. Lavender also has a variety of medicinal uses and is a mosquito deterrent. Did I mention the heavenly smell? It’s great to grow in containers, and its dislike of excess moisture makes it excellent as a potted plant.
Tarragon is frequently used as a seasoning for chicken, seafood, vegetables, and egg dishes. I’ve also heard of it in salads, but have not tried it myself. the plant is extremely easy to grow and requires very little maintenance and fuss. It can also be easily propagated from cuttings.
Cilantro is a bit of an overpowering taste which is very common in Caribbean dishes and salsas. Cilantro is prone to aphids, however, so make sure that you keep an eye on it and remove all spent leaves and debris to avoid mold and fungal infections.
Mint is delicious in tea and various desserts and salads. However, it is very aggressive and has a tendency to take beds over, so it’s best grown in a container. The plant is, however, extremely easy to grow and very low-maintenance.