Colleen Vanderlinden


Once I started growing herbs, it became an all-consuming love affair. I started with the culinary herbs I'm going to talk about in this post, but it quickly expanded to growing herbs for tea, medicinal herbs, and herbs for crafts. The more you learn about herbs and their uses, as well as the folklore behind them, the more hooked you'll become. If you're new to growing herbs,The five herbs below are a great place to start. They're easy to grow, work well in containers, have a multitude of uses in the kitchen, and are just delicious.

5 Must-Have Herbs for Your Garden

1. Basil: I'm being sneaky here. Basil is not "just" basil. You can grow the traditional 'Genovese' basil that is commonly used in pesto. But you can also grow lime basil, lemon basil, Thai basil, spicy globe basil, purple basil....and all of them are easy to grow in a sunny spot. They like well drained, fertile soil and regular watering. They will start to bolt once the weather gets hot, but to prevent that, just be sure to harvest basil often. You can start with transplants, or direct sow basil right in the garden after your last frost date.

Recipes Featuring Basil:

- Vodka Tomatoes with Basil and Sea Salt

- Caprese Salad

- Tomato Basil Crostini

- Orange-Basil Mojito

- Basil Infused Vinegar

- Amaranth with Basil Olive Oil2. Parsley: Curly parsley or flat-leaf parsley are both pretty easy to grow, but can be a bit tricky to grow from seed because of their long germination times. However, you can find transplants just about everywhere. Grow them the same as basil, above, and you'll be harvesting parsley all season long.Recipes Featuring Parsley:- White Bean and Parsley Pesto- Pasta With Italian Parsley and Smoked Sardines- Garlic Parsley Potatoes- Parsley Salad- Parsley and Potato Soup- Lemony-Rice Parsley Salad3. Chives: Chives are very easy to start from seed sown indoors six weeks before your last frost date, or from transplants. Both the foliage and the flowers are edible -- the flowers make a beautiful addition to salads, as well as gorgeous herbal vinegars. Chives grow best in full sun to part shade, and need fertile, well-drained soil and regular watering.Recipes Featuring Chives:- Chive Oil- Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Fresh Chives- Cheddar, Bacon, and Fresh Chive Biscuits- Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Creamy Chive Sauce- Chive Pesto for Pasta4. Sage: Sage is a perennial herb, so once you've planted it in your garden, you're likely to have plenty of sage for years to come. It is fairly easy to grow from seed, but transplants are easy to find as well. Sage needs full sun to part shade and well-drained soil. Once established, sage needs very little care.Recipes Featuring Sage:- Jerusalem Artichokes with Sage- Sweet Potato Ravioli with Crispy Sage Brown Butter- Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage- Penne with Asparagus, Sage, and Peas- Oven Roasted Turkey with Sage Butter5. Thyme: Thyme is available both in upright and prostrate forms, as well as in variegated forms, so it really does double-duty as an ornamental as well. It is a short-lived perennial, most often done in by too much moisture. Thyme requires full sun to partial shade and well drained soil. Like sage, it requires very little care once it's established in your garden.Recipes Featuring Thyme:- Pear, Port, and Thyme Conserve- Acorn Squash with Thyme Cream Sauce- Creeping Thyme Soup- Oven Roasted Potatoes with ThymeWith these five herbs, you can add a great deal of flavor to your meals, as well as beauty to your garden. You can dry all five of them to use during the winter, or pot them up and grow them indoors after your last frost date. Once you get used to growing and cooking with herbs, you definitely won't want to be without them!