A Cooks Garden | Our Guide To The Best Herbs

Fresh herbs are bright, bold and borderline intoxicating — and when taken beyond a restrained sprinkling they transform a dish. Here’s our easy guide to growing, harvesting, and some ideas for using these fresh herbs.

Also! Don’t be afraid to try new and unique varieties {Purple Petra Basil, what??} You really can’t go wrong with any of them. 🙂 And if you don’t have space, add a few smaller growing types in with your flower pots, hanging baskets, or mixed borders. They add great texture and fragrance!

Enjoy! ~ Tanya

1. BASIL
Varieties To Try: Italian Large Leaf, Dolce Vita Blend, Mrs. Burns Lemon, Napoletano, Spicy Bush, Sweet
Special Care: Pinch off any flowers that appear. This preserves the plant’s flavor & will also help increase the leaf density of each stem.
How To Harvest: Harvest the upper leaves first, taking just a few leaves from each stem at a time.
Ideas For Use: Add to raw salads, wraps, & sandwiches; cook into soups & sauces; chop and sprinkle on pizza; make a pesto

2. PARSLEY
Varieties To Try: Curled, Giant Italian, Italian
How To Harvest: Cut the outermost stalks just above ground level, which will encourage further growth.
Ideas For Use: Leaves & stalks can be eaten in salads and soups. Also makes a great addition to pasta.

3. CHIVES
Varieties To Try: Fine leaf, Garlic, Onion
Special Care: If you don’t intend on eating the flowers, pinch them off as soon as they begin to appear.
How To Harvest: Cut outside leaves with scissors first, allowing about 2 inches of the leaves to remain.
How To Use: Leaves & stalks can be eaten whole. Mix into salads, pastas, risottos; top onto roasted & baked potatoes.

4. ROSEMARY
Varieties To Try: Tuscan Blue, BBQ, Creeping
Special Care: Do not overwater. Rosemary likes it on the dryer side.
How To Harvest: Simply cut off pieces of the stem as you need it.
How To Use: Great chopped up with tomatoes, use in a homemade vinaigrette, roast meats, alongside sautéed mushrooms, beef, grilled fish, pork, roast beef, turkey. Add to soups and pasta sauces. Use in poultry stuffings. Make an herb butter.

5. CILANTRO
Varieties To Try: Coriander, Slow-Bolt
Special Care: Cilantro does not like hot weather. If the soil temp reaches 75 degrees, the plant will bold and go to seed, making this a short lived herb. Aggressive pruning will extend its life, so be ready to use or store it.
How To Harvest: There’s 2 methods you can use: 1. When the plant reaches about 6″ in height, remove outer leaves with scissors, leaving the growing point intact for new growth. 2. Wait until the plant is mature and pull it form the soil by its roots to use the whole bunch at once.
Ideas For Use: Add to salads, wraps, dips, salsas, guacamole, tacos and many Mexican inspired dishes.

6. THYME:
Varieties To Try: French, Lemon, Lemon Variegated, Lime, Orange, English, Coconut and more!
Special Care: Thyme can take a while to start from seed, so you may wish to buy a mature plant. Drought-tolerant thyme is easy to care for. Prefers dryer soil.
How To Harvest: Simply cut off pieces of the stem as you need it.
Ideas For Use: Often used to flavor meats, soups, stews, roasted potatoes. Great in deviled eggs.

7. DILL
Varieties To Try: Bouquet
Special Care: Drought-tolerant dill is extremely easy to care for and prefers dryer soil.
How To Harvest: Dill should not be harvested until it’s 12″ tall. Never take more than 1/3 of the leaves at a time.
Ideas For Use: Great for grilled fish, lamb, potatoes and in salads.

8. MINT:
Varieties To Try: Apple, Chocolate, Grapefruit, Peppermint, Spearmint, Mojito, Lemon, Lime, Orange and more!
Special Care: Mint is an invasive plant, so it is best to grow this in a container.
How To Harvest: Pinch off sprigs as you need them.
Ideas For Use: Mint is extremely versatile. Use in salads, desserts, cold drinks. Use to flavor tea. Delicious on lamb and in soups. Leaves can be eaten whole.

9. TARRAGON:
Varieties To Try: French
Special Care: Extrememly easy to grow. Mulch in the fall. This is a fairly drought-tolerant plant.
How To Harvest: Clip down branches as you need them. Strip the stem of the leaves when preparing for chopping and chop only the leaves.
Ideas For Use: Use in salad dressings, chicken and pork dishes, sprinkled on roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, and use in deviled egg recipes.

10. OREGANO
Varieties To Try: Greek, Hot n’ Spicey, Italian, Mexican
Special Care: Easy to grow and is more of a drought tolerant plant.
How To Harvest: Simply cut off the stems as you need them. If left alone, will bloom and is especially pretty in the fall.
Ideas For Use: Use in Italian dishes such as spaghetti and pizza.

11. SAGE
Varieties To Try: Berrgarten, Purple, Tri-Color, Canary Island, Pineapple
Special Care: Easy to grow! Likes to be on the dryer side. The purple and tricolor varieties look great in flower planters!
How To Harvest: Cut leaves as you need them.
Ideas For Use: Popular in stews and in stuffings. Delicious chopped and put into marinades, then topped over poultry or pork. Great in pasta sauces.

Other Fun Herbs To Try:

Chamomile
Chervil
Comfrey
Fennel
Lavender
Marjoram
Savory
Stevia

TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL HARVEST:

Soil: It should be fast draining; dig compost + granular fertilizer (Master Nursery’s Bumper Crop Compost + Espoma’s Organic Garden-Tone Fertilizer) into garden beds before planting annual herbs. For herbs in containers, use potting soil + granular fertilizer.

Water: Give newly planted herbs regular watering (once established, most tolerate some drought). Annual herbs such as basil need regular water throughout the growing season. Mint prefers slightly moist soil.

Fertilizer: Most herbs appreciate occasional supplemental feedings during the growing season; use an organic granular fertilizer.

By |2015-05-18T18:54:07+00:00May 18th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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