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Growing herbs in your garden is a wonderful way to enhance your meals and reap the benefits of their medicinal properties. There are countless ways to use them as well. I recently planted my herb garden on the back porch and wanted to share how I care for them, but also what I do with them! Here are 8 Easy Garden Herbs You Need to Grow, along with their uses and benefits.
I’m not going to lie… my before photo is pitiful. These are the remnants of a few herbs I planted in 2021! Life has been busy on the farm, so my herb garden hasn’t exactly been top of mind until recently. It definitely needed an overhaul.
8 Easy Garden Herbs: Basil
Basil is a versatile herb with a delightful aroma and distinct flavor. It is most commonly used in Italian and Mediterranean cuisines, but can be used to enhance the flavor of many dishes. Basil contains antibacterial properties and is a rich source of vitamins A and K. It also contains essential oils that provide antioxidant benefits. I personally love the flavor and smell of basil so I knew I had to include it!
To care for Basil: It’s important to note that basil needs a lot of water. If you’re not the best at watering plants every few days, add mulch around the plant, or mix it into the soil like I did. This will help retain moisture and keep your basil happy and healthy. It also grows best in a space that receives 6-8 hours of sunlight every day. Use your basil regularly to encourage bushy growth, and trim off any flowers that appear as soon as you can so the plant focuses on leaf growth.
Here’s a few recipes I love that contain basil:
- Light and Easy Creamy Tomato Pasta Bake
- Delicious Heirloom Pesto Tomato Tart
- Bruschetta Stuffed Chicken Breast
I haven’t incorporated Rosemary into my garden yet this year, but I love it! Rosemary is an evergreen herb with needle-like leaves and a woody aroma. Depending on where you live, it can come back year after year and keep producing. It’s a popular addition to roasted meats, potatoes, and bread. Like basil, it also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and is believed to improve digestion and enhance memory and concentration! Those are some great reasons to incorporate rosemary into your garden and your diet!
To care for Rosemary: Rosemary also loves full sun (6-8 hours) like most plants, but prefers well-drained soil. If growing in a container, you may want to add rocks or pea gravel as the bottom layer, then top with dirt before planting. This allows the water to drain properly so the plant only gathers what it needs. The goal is to keep the soil dry, but not dusty, so watering this plant every 1-2 weeks should suffice.
Delicious recipes using rosemary:
Easy Garden Herbs: Italian Parsley
Parsley is a versatile herb used in a wide range of dishes. It contains vitamins A, C, and K, as well as minerals like iron and potassium. It can help support healthy digestion, freshens breath, and may have anti-inflammatory effects. Parsley has a light flavor in my opinion, making it the perfect garnish for almost any savory dish. It adds a pop of color to pasta, chicken, you name it!
To care for Parsley: Like most herbs, parsley loves full sun and does best in that environment. It also loves water and needs to be watered weekly to thrive. When the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch, water it thoroughly. However, it’s important that your container also has at least one drainage hole to avoid root rot, which can occur when the soil is too moist for long periods of time.
Recipes I love using parsley:
Cilantro is one of my absolute favorite easy garden herbs. At Our Farmer House, we love Mexican food and cilantro is often a staple in Mexican flavors. However, it’s also really good for you! Cilantro is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium. These nutrients are essential for maintaining a healthy immune system, among many other things. It has also been studied for its potential to remove heavy metals, such as mercury and aluminum from the body. That all sounds like a wonderful excuse to incorporate more cilantro into my diet!
To care for Cilantro: Like most outdoor plants, Cilantro loves full sun. If you’re growing it in a container like I am, it’s important that you use soil with a lot of rich organic matter or compost as it needs a lot of nutrients as it grows. Early spring and fall are both suitable for planting Cilantro, and make sure to spread it out from other plants as good airflow is a must.
Some of my favorite recipes that use fresh cilantro:
- Fresh Pineapple Salsa
- One Pot Cilantro and Lime Chicken with Rice
- Cilantro Lime Tilapia with Avocado
Easy Garden Herbs: Dill
Dill is absolutely delicious. You probably eat it most on pickles or fish, but it can be used for so much more than that. Dill has actually been used as a digestive aid for centuries. It’s a good source of calcium as well, which is needed for maintaining strong and healthy bones. Oddly enough, it also contains compounds that may have mild sedative effects to help reduce anxiety and stress.
To Care for Dill: Dill is another plant that can come back after winter if the winter isn’t particularly harsh. It loves full sun and well-drained soil so be careful not to pack it too tight when planting. It doesn’t like to move once it’s planted, so pick a spot that gives it enough room to grow and stay.
Recipes with fresh dill:
Mint is a refreshing herb that comes in various varieties like spearmint, peppermint, and chocolate mint. It is known for its cooling and soothing properties, making it an excellent choice for teas, mocktails/cocktails, and desserts. Mint aids in digestion, relieves headaches, and may even help alleviate allergy symptoms. It can be a very powerful herb, so it’s best to use sparingly and then add to taste. My favorite mint recipe is my Watermelon Mint Detox Water!
To care for Mint: Mint likes to be separated from anything else that’s growing so I’ve put mine in a different container. If weeds or other plants surround it, it can sometimes take on a more bitter flavor. It can easily grow very big and spread, especially in 6-8 hours of sunlight and well-drained soil. Mint also likes to be mulched and can come back every year with little to no effort. Just cut it back to ground level in the fall, add a little compost if you’ve got it, and watch it sprout up in the spring!
Easy Garden Herbs: Thyme
Thyme is a fragrant herb with small leaves that pairs well with roasted meats, vegetables, and soups. There are two types – the ornamental and the culinary varieties, so be sure to grab the right one. I’ve chosen the lemon variety for my herb garden. It has antimicrobial properties and contains essential oils that have shown potential anti-fungal effects. Thyme is also rich in antioxidants and may support respiratory health.
To care for Thyme: This herb loves heat! It’s important to plant all herbs once the danger of frost has passed, but this is an herb that you can plant a little later in the season and it will do well. It also prefers well-drained soil and only needs to be watered when the dirt is dry. This is another herb that can come back year after year if well cared for and pruned regularly.
I love this Savory Herb Baked Whole Chicken recipe, which uses fresh thyme and rosemary. Thyme is best utilized when it’s fresh, so it’s a great easy garden herb for meals!
Easy Garden Herbs: Oregano
Oregano is not only flavorful; it also offers several health benefits due to its rich nutritional profile. It is packed with antioxidants such as phenols and flavonoids. These compounds help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body, reducing oxidative stress and potentially lowering the risk of chronic diseases. Some studies have even shown it potentially has anti-cancer properties and may help inhibit the growth of cancer cells and induce cell death!
To care for Oregano: Oregano does well in part to full sun, but the flavor is more robust when it receives an entire day of sunshine. It likes to be watered thoroughly when the soil feels dry to the touch. Oregano is relatively drought-resistant. It can also be grown indoors but it really likes sunshine and warm air, so outdoors will always be best.
My Three Cheese Lasagna Casserole uses fresh oregano and parsley!
This easy garden herb refresh is just that – refreshing! It definitely looks better and I can’t wait to start using all these herbs in my recipes. The more you use them, the healthier the plants (and you!) typically are as well.
What Herbs Will You Grow?
These eight easy garden herbs can add flavor and depth to your culinary creations while offering a variety of health benefits. Plus, they are relatively easy to grow and maintain, making them excellent choices for your garden. I hope I provided a little insight into which herbs I love to grow and how to care for them.
Do you grow herbs every year? What herbs and spices do I need to add to my garden? Let me know in the comments and tag me in your herb gardens at @ourfarmerhouse!