A big part of what makes my simple recipes all so delicious is my year round herb garden. In warmer months, I keep a small garden on my patio and balcony and in the winter I keep an herb garden in my kitchen. Here are the must haves for every herb garden, how to keep each growing and key uses for each herb.
My must have year round herbs include parsley, basil, thyme and oregano. Cilantro is always wonderful to have on hand as I love to use it in many flavorful dishes such as Pulled Chicken BBQ Skillet and Cilantro Lime Chicken Skewers but like parsley, you can only harvest 1-2 times with little regrowth.
Thyme and oregano are preannenial herbs and will keep coming back year after year. I’ve even moved these plants from ground to pot and they make a full lucious recovering with fresh greens each season. Basil is an annual plant, but an easy one to keep giving and growing.
While you can certainly start seeds and watch them grow (fun for kids to teach them patience!) in early spring, I like to buy young plants and nurture them along. You can use any type of container with drainage holes at the bottom. If you find one you love, you can drill a hole in most pots. When the frost comes in late fall, I’ll take the plants inside to my kitchen. Or if there’s a particular herb you use often in cooking, keep the plant near a window in your kitchen.
Here is the list of herbs to place inside your herb garden for your kitchen garden and what recipes you can use them in.
Basil is a staple for Italian dishes and it’s potent scent smells like summer to me. During the colder months I keep a small vase of living basil or planted basil and in the summer, basil plants grow tall and wide in my mini-patio garden. Basil does not come back year after year so it either must be maintained or planted each year.
Basil is perfect in this Peach Caprese Salad and pairs well with sweet flavors. Basil plants love water. You can harvest and keep the leaves by rolling up and freezing in a freezer safe bad, baking at a low temperature of 200 degrees and making dry basil by storing in an air tight container or by making your favorite kind a pesto.
Parsley has a mild flavor, yet when combined with recipes can really help in building flavor. I use parsley in nearly every cooking dish! Parsley is also packed with vitamin K, a tablespoon or more is all you need to reap some major health benefits while making your dish delish. Parsley is my favorite on this dish of Garlic and Herb Potato Wedges.
Cilantro has many uses but it’s most commonly used in our house on Taco Tuesday night. I chop a bunch of cilantro and throw it on everything you want to have a little kick. There is really nothing better than a dish like Cilantro and Lime Chicken or Pulled BBQ Chicken Skillet topped with fresh cilantro. The stems will grow long and tall so you may want to stake them.
Rosemary is a member of the mint family and a super fragrant herb. It’s commonly used for potatoes, chicken and as a garnish. Some say it help’s boost memory! Rosemary will come back year after year or live year round. It doesn’t require a ton of water but you should check on it weekly.
Use sprigs or chop it for some of your best Sunday suppers.
Oregano is a strong willed herb that can withstand winters if harvested and cut back appropriately. It will come back year after year not to mention taste delicious on your homemade pizza. There are many types of oregano but I always go for Greek Oregano. It’s heart shaped leaves are very pretty and if you place up high, it will trail. Placed in a garden, it will spread. Oregano is very happy in a pot and easily grown from seeds. Try Oregano in these Stuffed Mediterranean Peppers!
Thyme is a hardy, woody herb that stands up to winters but is my secret to ALL things poultry and vegetables. Combine thyme with honey, EVOO and a little balsamic for the perfection marination. Use Thyme on my recipe for Honey Balsamic Roasted Carrots.
Dill can be used beyond just pickles. Great for salads and seasonings, this tangy herb has multiple uses and easy to grow.Dill doesn’t last long once harvested, so only pick what you need. Another reason why having a dill plant is key!
Lavender is an herb I like to grow just for it’s fragrance. Waiting for the lavender to bloom can sometimes feel like forever. Lavender loves sun, so be sure to place in a sunny window OR outside with full sun. You can use the pedals in baking as garnish or even for a delicious lavender lemonade.
Here is a list of things you’ll need to set up your kitchen herb garden:
- Potting Soil
- Seeds or plants, pick your favorites from above
- containers or a large container that drains
- small set of garden tools
- a cute pair of garden gloves
- Watering can