9 Culinary Herbs Even Black Thumbs Can Grow
Herbs make the world go around, especially the easiest culinary herbs to grow. Some of my earliest cooking memories revolve around herbs.
I grew up in an Italian family, and cooking is the center of everything. From Sunday dinner to birthdays, food was the center of the show, but no one seemed to write down recipes.
That frustrated me. How was I ever supposed to learn to make our family’s tomato sauce if the recipe isn’t on paper? So, I decided to stand next to my dad and write everything down, making him measure out the ingredients.
One thing he said stands out to me even today, decades later. He said, “Always add more parsley than basil unless you want to ruin your sauce.”
When I was 10-years-old, that made no sense, but now, I understand. Each time I sniff a basil plant, I think of my dad, standing in the kitchen stirring tomato sauce.
Now, I love finding new culinary herbs to grow, and here are some of the easiest to add to your garden.
9 Easiest Culinary Herbs to Grow
I had to start with my favorite culinary herb, basil. Basil is a warm-season annual plant that grows from seeds or seedlings after the last frost of the season.
It’s best to start basil plants inside under grow lights then transfer the seedlings outside when the weather is warm enough. Make sure you use compost to enrich the soil before planting and pick a location with full sun.
Basil plants can become quite bushy if you know what to do! The trick is to keep removing the growing tip when the plants are about a foot tall. Pinching off more basil encourages the plant to keep growing, so don’t feel bad about having too many tomato basil salads.
To have a larger basil harvest, you can sow a second planting directly into the ground in the early summer weeks. Another choice is to grow basil indoors in pots, which actually helps to repel flies.
Parsley has so many uses in the kitchen, and that’s why I always include at least two varieties of parsley in my garden. Depending on where you live, parsley in a biennial herb.
You can either sow the seeds outside or give them a head start by sowing the seeds indoors under a grow light until the seedlings can be placed outside.
Make sure you pick a location that has slightly damp soil in either full sun or partial shade.
Parsley is slow to germinate, so don’t be alarmed if the seeds don’t pop up quickly. You can speed up germination by soaking the seeds in water overnight before planting.
Sage is a great herb for cooking, and it’s easy to grow. So long as you plant this herb in a sunny spot with well-draining soil, sage grows well. Toss in some compost to help add fertility back into the soil.
Just make sure the soil isn’t too wet. You can harvest the leaves regularly to encourage the growth of more, and sage has dozens of varieties. Some have colored leaves instead of green!
Who does love some mint in their sun tea? Mint tea is delicious as well, and mint is one of the easiest culinary herbs to grow.
Mint grows vigorously, and it’s known to sprawl wildly. You would be wise to limit mint by growing it in a container rather than in the ground.
Gardeners can grow mint from seed, but it’s typically best to grow from the parent plant. You can take a cutting from any plant and grow it in your garden.
Mint needs to grow in full sun or partial shade. To encourage the plant to grow larger, pinch off any flower buds. You’ll find that more leaves grow.
Oregano plants love warm, sunny areas of your garden, especially in light soils. When they’re full-grown, these plants have pink flowers, and they sprawl out, making it an excellent ground cover for borders.
Sow the seeds in the spring until the soil warms up, or you can germinate the seeds in pots indoors. Then, when the last frost day passes, you can plant the seeds outside.
If you plant oregano in a container, you can overwinter oregano in an unheated garage or shed, even if you live in a cold climate.
Don’t think that rosemary is too difficult to grow. In some areas, rosemary is a perennial plant, which means it’s a hardy herb and a classic medicinal herb as well as a culinary herb.
Rosemary loves sunlight, but it also grows in shade as well. It’s not too particular about the soil type, but it doesn’t enjoy wet soil.
One thing to note about rosemary is that it can be a vigorous grower. You need to keep it trimmed to ensure that it keeps its shape. Make sure to trim it in June or July or it’ll become too woody.
When I moved into our home, chives grew in our back garden bed, but I had no idea what they were. Who even uses chives?
Soon, I found ways to add chives to my dishes, and I learned that this plant is a perennial. No matter what, I can spot the regrowth in the spring.
Chives is a relative to the onion family, but the plant resembles grass with fuzzy pink or purple globe flowers on top.
If you’re planting chives for the first time, sow the seeds into the ground in either March or April. This plant handles the cold weather well, but it does need a sunny location with rich soil. Chives need plenty of water, so keep the soil moist.
If you want to use seedlings, plant chives as soon as the danger of frost has passed. Then, make sure you trim the plants regularly to encourage a larger harvest.
Every few years, you can divide and replant clumps of chives to encourage more growth. Then, you can give chive plants to your friends and family. Dividing plants is a great way to get free plants!
I know; cilantro is a bit controversial. You either love it or hate it, but if you love it, you’ll be happy to know its one of the easiest culinary herbs to grow.
You can plant cilantro in spring and again in the late summer. You can either sow the seeds directly in the garden or start them inside.
If you do decide to start seeds inside, quickly transplant them outside. Cilantro is damaged by transplanting.
The awesome thing about cilantro is that the entire plant is edible. You can eat the leaves, and the brown, ripe seeds are an orange-scented spice known as coriander. You can even eat the roots by tossing them in soups and stir-fries.
Thyme is a hardy evergreen plant that you can grow from seed, seedling, or a root step cut. It’s a fantastic herb to grow if you want to increase the flavor of your meat dish or you can make a thyme vinegar, which tastes delicious.
Thyme needs plenty of sunlight to grow, and it can be quite prolific if you spend me cutting back the blooming branches. Doing so increases the production of leaves.
Culinary Herbs to Grow in Your Garden
Growing an herb garden is one of my favorite parts of gardening. I keep a lot of my herbs near my patio so that I can smell them when the wind blows.
For new gardeners, don’t be worried about growing herbs. Try one or several of these easiest culinary herbs to grow. You’ll be surprised how fast herbs grow with little help from you.