There is nothing quite like the taste of fresh herbs in recipes. They add a fullness of flavor that dried herbs just can’t match. And growing herbs for kitchen gardens is so easy to do, everyone should have a few pots of them either on the patio, in the vegetable garden, or even growing indoors in a sunny kitchen window.
These Herbs for Kitchen Gardens are ones that I use all the time.
Many of these herbs are perennials, which means, that if you are in the right zones, they will come back year after year. Even in the colder climates, many perennial herbs can take the winter weather if you mulch around them. If your climate it too cold, just bring them inside to keep them from the cold and hold off on the watering while they go dormant. Annual herbs can be grown indoors all year round.
I have a large area on my deck that has both herbs and vegetables growing. It’s easy to water, within reach of the kitchen and looks great on my patio too! I use the herbs all summer and then just leave them out during the winter. (some even grow then!) I am in zone 7b.
Here is my list of 10 of the Best Herbs for Kitchen Gardens. Some I just can’t do without and others I only use occasionally, but all are very easy to grow and make my food taste delicious.
1. THYME. The top of my list of herbs for kitchen gardens is thyme. This basic herb is useful in all types of dishes and is almost a necessity in French cooking. The tiny leaves just strip right off the stems. No dicing is necessary. It is super easy to grow and I manage to keep some of it going even in the winter. It pairs well with many other herbs and has an earthy flavor.
2. BASIL Sadly, this herb is an annual, not a perennial, but it grows easily from seeds or cuttings so I am never without out it. Basil is widely used in Italian dishes and also in many other Mediterranean recipes. And where would pesto be without this versatile herb? Basil comes in many forms and colors. Be sure to cut off the flowers to keep it from getting tart. Very easy to grow indoors in a sunny window.
3. ROSEMARY. This herb is one that keeps going year round for me. I used it three or four times a week. Rosemary has a needle like appearance and a very pungent aroma. It’s widely used in Italian cooking. I love to take sprigs of it with some butter and stuff it under the skin of a roast chicken. To die for! Or try cutting slits in roast beef and stuffing them with both garlic and rosemary. So yummy…
4. TARRAGON. This herb is native to Asia but is often thought of as a staple for French cooking. Tarragon has a light licorice flavor that pairs well with many protein choices. I love to use it chopped and sprinkled on boneless chicken breasts for an easy week night meal that tastes anything but ordinary. Fresh tarragon is not one of the herbs normally for sale at the supermarket so growing your own is a must. Thankfully, it is a perennial, so once you have a plant, you will usually get it back again the following year.
5. OREGANO. This perennial herb is a native of both Greece and Italy. Oregano is used widely in Italian sauces and pasta dishes by the Italians, and sprinkled over salads by the Greeks. It is super easy to grow and comes back each year. It will fill a huge pot quickly so keep that in mind when you decide what size pot to you. It’s a thirsty perennial that likes regular watering but recovers easily if you forget.
The Ultimate Herb for Garnishes
6. PARSLEY. There is nothing quite as versatile as parsley and it is one of the must have herbs for kitchen gardens. There are many varieties of it, with different textures and leaf shapes. Most are biennial plants that last two years, but mine seems to keep chugging on year after year. Every once in a while it gets pretty small and I just start a new plant. Parsley is used as a garnish on many restaurant dishes. Flat leaf parsley is best for cooking and curly parsley better for garnishes. Whenever your plate looks a bit pale and needs a “little something,” reach for the parsley! No kitchen should be without it.
7. CILANTRO. If you love guacamole, be sure that cilantro is a herb growing in your kitchen garden. Cilanto is native to Southern Europe as well as the middle east and is a staple in curries. Mexican dishes also widely use it. It is very aromatic and has an undertone of anise. This is not one that I use often, but I always have some on hand for parties, because it makes the best guacamole ever! It is an annual so will have to be started each year unless you keep it indoors.
8. CHIVES. I would grow this plant JUST to have to sprinkle on baked potatoes with sour cream. They have a slight onion flavor and, as an added bonus, the prettiest flowers. Chives are considered a perennial, but I have trouble getting more than a couple of years out of mine here in NC. Chives are also great in dips.
9. SAGE. Widely used in Mediterranean dishes, we all know sage because of the holidays and particularly Thanksgiving. Sage not only seasons proteins, it is also wonderful in stuffing and many other side dishes. Sage is a perennial and very hardy. I got mine from some that had grown wild in my front garden bed. It looked like sage when I saw it, and the taste was unmistakable. I transplanted it and have had it ever since and use it a lot with Chicken dishes.
10. MINT. This one almost didn’t make my list. I have a bit of a love hate relationship with mint. It is a voracious spreader and will take over a garden bed if you are not careful. I keep mine in pots now and still have a hard time keeping it under control. (It ends up in neighboring pots easily.) But I do love the taste of a fresh sprig on mint on a dessert so I put up with its greedy nature. Mint is great in cocktails and other drinks, is wonderful to season yoghurt as a side dish for curries and useful in many other ways.
Many of the photos used in this article are public domain photos from Pixabay and MorgueFile. For other photo sharing sites, please see this article.Herbs can be either annual, biennial or perennial, just like flowers. See my list of each type here.
Are there other fresh herbs for kitchen gardens that you just can’t do without? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.