Starting an Herb Garden

starting an herb garden

Starting an herb garden can be easy to do and with some simple research and a little gardening knowledge you will have a thriving garden that can add spice and flavor to your cooking. Growing herbs is easier than you may think, and once your herb garden is established then you may never buy herbs from a shop again.

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Where to Grow an Herb Garden

You will need to decide the location for your herbs and then consider which ones you are wanting to grow. Some herbs grow very well together and others have to have more sunlight and growing space. Herbs thrive in the sunlight and choosing a sunny spot is essential, as they need six hours of sun a day.

If you'd like an indoor herb garden, placing and starting an herb garden near your kitchen door will remind you to use your herbs daily. For some people this is more convenient as you can have herbs grow year round.  Starting an herb garden indoors is also ideal for first time growers and people with very little space as they can be placed on windowsills to allow the most sunlight to your herbs. Unfortunately, you will be limited to the amount of herbs you can grow indoors.

Having an indoor or a small patch of ground outside makes a great herb garden for children.
growing basil

What Herbs to Grow

There are so many different varieties of herbs now available that it can be difficult to decide which ones are the best to grow. If you are a cook that likes to experiment and try different flavors then starting an herb garden is a great idea. starting herb garden

There are several herbs, which are very popular and work well when starting herb garden. Experiment by growing different herbs and see which becomes a favorite. Here are a few common herbs you can grow.

  • Basil is one of the favorite herbs to use; it grows very easily and can be used in many dishes or as a great garnish. Basil needs a lot of sunlight to flourish so pick a very sunny spot away from the cold.
  • Another great herb is parsley it is one of the most nutritious herbs and can be used in virtually every recipe. It has a mild and savory taste and is excellent for digestion problems; parsley grows very well indoors and likes to be sheltered in very sunny areas.
  • Dill is a popular herb, which has aromatic spice with a slightly sour flavor. It is suited to dishes that require savory yet subtle spice, dill grows well in sunny sheltered positions. It is fast growing and very easy to cultivate. 
  • Mint is a fantastic herb to grow it can be used in several different dishes and drinks and is very easy to grow. It looks after itself and doesn't need much care or attention to make it flourish.
  • Chives are very similar to onions in taste and they are a great substitute for your cooking, you can use every part of this herb making them very versatile. Chives grow well in full sunlight and in well-drained soil.

You can buy an herb garden kit to make it easier to start your herbs.

Caring for an Herb Garden

Wherever you decide to have your herb garden you will need to care for it to enable the herbs to grow well. The herbs will require just the right amount of water and must not be over watered; the soil should be moist and not damp.

Timing is everything when it comes to picking your herbs; you need to ensure that you do this at the correct time. If you pick them too early then they won't be at their prime, and too late and they would have spoiled.

Picking herbs when you need them is great and one of the main reasons for starting herb garden. You can decide which ones you need and simply pick off however much you need for your meal. 

Drying Fresh Herbs

If you wish to dry the herbs then they will need to be picked when they are freshest, this will lock the most amount of flavor into the leaves. It is better to pick the young leaves several times throughout the season, rather than wait for them all to be mature. Pick your herbs before they flower, bundle bunches of herbs together and allow to dry upside down or flat for several weeks. Herbs are dry when the leaves are brittle and easily break to pieces. If drying flat, turn every few days to ensure all leaves are drying equally.

When ready to use your dried herbs, crush herbs with a mortar or pestle or place them in a baggie and crush with a rolling pin. Store in a cool, dry place-not next to the stove.

You can also freeze fresh herbs.
dried oregano herbs

Using Fresh Herbs and Recipes to Try

When replacing fresh herbs with dried herbs, 1/4 teaspoon dried herbs is equal to 2-3 teaspoons chopped fresh.

Herb Butter

  • 1 Cup butter, softened
  • 3-5 Tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as chives, parsley, oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Blend together soft butter, lemon juice and fresh chopped herbs. Stir together until well combined. Lay mixture on top of waxed paper. Roll up ends of waxed paper and form into a log or rope. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. To freeze cut into small cubes or rounds and flash freeze.

making herb butter herb butter log

Herb Vinegar

In a glass jar, add bunch of fresh herb sprigs and whole spices. For fresh herbs try parsley, basil, lavender, lemon verbena, rosemary or thyme for great tasting vinegar. Whole spices can be peppercorns, chili peppers (for hot) or mustard seeds.

You can also add whole garlic, peppercorns or lemon slices. Add 2 Cups white or apple cider vinegar. Put lid on and place in the sun.  Let sit 2-3 weeks. Strain and store in glass bottle. Add more fresh sprigs in bottle for a pretty looking bottle and use for making salad dressings, marinades, potato salad, soups, etc.
herb vinegar


  • 2 Cups fresh basil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 Cup chopped almonds, walnuts or pine nuts
  • 3/4 Cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano or 4-5 fresh leaves
  • small bunch of fresh parsley
  • 1/2 Cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons pepper
  • pinch of salt
In blender, add basil, garlic cloves and lemon juice. Puree and add in oil, oregano, parsley, cheese, pepper and salt. Continue to puree until smooth. Use pesto tossed with noodles, spread on tomatoes, on sandwiches, etc.

pesto salad

Eggs with Chives

Scramble 1-2 eggs per person in a bowl. Add shredded cheese, ham or chopped vegetables you like in your eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1-2 Tablespoons chopped chives. Cook in skillet until eggs are done.
~ Chives taste great with egg dishes so try them in quiches, egg casseroles and even just sprinkle top cooked eggs.

Starting an herb garden can be a very rewarding a beautiful hobby that will add flavor and spice to your home cooking!

Learn more about how to cook with herbs and spices.

More ideas for planning and growing your own food

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Grow your food scraps
14 Plants for Kids To Grow in a Garden

Grow and Cook Kids Cooking Camp

Unlike other summer camp curriculum this one is designed to plant your seeds and watch them grow, then harvest them and try the recipes.

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Related Basic Cooking Lesson Pages:
~ Basic Cooking Lessons, ~ Stock and soups, ~ 5 mother sauces, ~ Yeast and baking breads, ~ Herbs and spices, ~ Vegetables, ~ Dry beans, ~ Grains, ~ Eggs, ~ Different cooking methods, ~ Growing an herb garden, How to Cook Q&A

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