Oftentimes, the difference between a delicious meal and a bland one has to do with two simple things: herbs and spices. Although you can grow spices yourself, homegrown herbs more commonly reside in household gardens.
Taken from the leaves of certain non-woody plants, herbs elevate a meal’s flavor to new heights. Seasoned cooks often prefer fresh herbs to the dried varieties. Unfortunately, buying lots of fresh herbs can push a grocery budget to its limits. Growing your own herbs, on the other hand, costs much less and yields far better rewards.
Read on to learn about filling your garden with the best homegrown herbs!
Our 9 Favorite Homegrown Herbs
When it comes to herbs, there are plenty to choose from — in fact, there are nearly 100 varieties housed in the herb garden at the National Library of Medicine! Of the many herbs out there, some are hard to grow, and others just aren’t used that often.
These nine herbs pair flavor and versatility with ease of growing. So no matter how green (or un-green) your thumb may be, you’ll be able to enjoy these homegrown herbs in no time!
At the center of Italian cuisine sits basil. It pairs easily with tomatoes and mozzarella in a Caprese salad, mashed into a pesto, or used to spice up a pasta dish.
Whether you grow basil indoors or out, it prefers a hot environment with plenty of light. As temperatures drop and light becomes scarce, growth will slow before eventually coming to a halt.
Another popular herb, mint plays a key role in everything from cocktails to ice cream! When you grow mint at home, it can easily take over your garden. For this reason, many gardeners opt to grow it inside in a self-contained pot.
Bringing a more nuanced flavor profile than an onion, chives are a subtle addition to most recipes. Casual cooks use this homegrown herb to elegantly elevate mashed potatoes, omelets, salads, and more.
Chives get tall, so be sure to give them enough room to grow about a foot both tall and wide. They also like plenty of water. Keeping the soil moist — without drowning the plants — is a must. If you have trouble staying on top of your watering, there’s an app that can help!
Used in ancient Greece to enhance memory, rosemary has been popular for millennia. In addition to this potential holistic benefit, rosemary is an evergreen shrub that fragrantly graces your garden year-round!
Rosemary pairs nicely with savory dishes like roasted meats, Yorkshire puddings, and stuffings. Some even use homegrown herbs in this family to decorate and bring a pleasant aroma to their garden.
Cilantro, also known as coriander, has become quite the divisive herb. According to 23andMe, the coriander controversy likely results from genetic variation in taste receptors. For some, this means that cilantro tastes like soap.
But if you’re a fan of cilantro, like me, you’re in luck. This herb can be grown either inside or outside — but shouldn’t be transplanted. This herb requires frequent watering but hates overly soggy roots.
For those who can’t stand cilantro, here comes parsley to save the day! This hardy homegrown herb nicely replaces cilantro in many dishes. Popular in Italian gremolata or much of Middle Eastern cooking, parsley stands on its own as well.
Another aromatic evergreen, thyme finds itself most often in soups, stews, and meats. Experts suggest growing thyme in a pot and warn against overwatering — always let the soil dry before watering again. Furthermore, trimming the tips of the plant promotes extra growth.
Popularly paired with salmon or gracing potato salad, dill can easily be grown in your kitchen. Homegrown herbs in the dill family aren’t only used in food, though; they can also be used in eco-friendly soaps!
Found primarily in Mediterranean and Mexican cuisines, oregano prefers frequent harvesting — so you can use it often! Like dill, oregano enjoys growing in the kitchen, provided it has enough light and well-drained soil!
Enjoying Your Homegrown Herbs
Most cooks prefer fresh homegrown herbs, but most aren’t in season year-round. This means that drying your herbs may be the only way to enjoy them during some parts of the year.
Fortunately, drying fresh herbs to enjoy at a later date is something that any home cook can do! The traditional method involves hanging a bunch upside down until it's moisture-free. There are other options, too — like using a microwave or a dehydrator.
Growing herbs at home saves you money and brings a fresh taste to your kitchen. With so many homegrown herbs to choose from, the opportunities to enjoy them are endless.
What are your favorite ways to enjoy homegrown herbs? Leave a comment and tell us!