5 Herbs You Should Consider Growing This Year

5 Herbs You Should Consider Growing This Year Written my Karen @ To Work With My Hands, Contributing Writer

If you’ve never grown herbs before, let me encourage you to make this the year. Herbs are amazing!

There’s so many wonderful herbs to try, and it can be overwhelming when you first decide to grow them. One eager browse through an online seed catalog can have you with a loaded cart before you know it.

But, if you’re just getting started, you’ll be more successful if you keep things simple and grow just a few new herbs each year, giving yourself plenty of time to get to know each one, its growing preferences, and the many ways you can use them. 

So, I’ve created a small list of just…

5 herbs you should consider growing this year:

The herbs on this list are basic, easy to grow, and practically trouble-free.

1. Basil

Basil is probably my favorite herb to grow. It’s flavor is amazing, and the uses are nearly limitless.

From the classic pesto, to adorning your homemade pizza, seasoning homemade broth, or homemade fresh herb whole wheat bread, basil is sure to become a favorite. At our house basil always makes it into a batch of homemade herb butter, and my daughter loves to gather it fresh, have me chop it for her, and add to her buttered scrambled eggs.

Basil is easy to grow and propagates readily. Because it’s an annual herb, it dies each winter. In fact, basil doesn’t do very well when temperatures drop below 50 degrees. If you choose to grow open-pollinated varieties or propagate your plants yourself, you’ll only buy seeds once! Year after year you’ll have your very own supply.

Fresh Herbs in a Jar

2. Parsley

Parsley is a real nutritional powerhouse – and why I always try to keep in in my garden. It’s virtually loaded with vitamin K, and an excellent source of vitamin C.

Although it’s an easy-care herb, parsley does take some patience when you start from seed. It can take between 5 and 8 weeks to germinate. There’s a very good reason for this though: parsley is a biennial herb.

Biennial plants are the middle ground between annuals – which must be regrown each year, and perennials – which live for many years. Biennials are unique in that they have a two-year life cycle.

During the first growing season, parsley produces masses of useful foliage, and during the second year it bolts, flowers, and produces seeds before dying. You can keep a steady parsley supply by starting new plants each year.

Parsley is a wonderful herb to adorn fresh spring potatoes, and is a healthy and delicious addition to soups and stews. You can choose from the flat-leaf Italian parsley, or the popular curly leaf that’s common as a garnish.

In addition to its culinary uses, parsley can become a key player for a fun science project. Watch your plants closely. If you happen to notice a hungry caterpillar munching your parsley, it has likely become the host for the swallowtail butterfly larvae.

I remember fondly the summer my oldest boys were still young and discovered one of these caterpillars on our parsley. We picked some strong stems, brought them indoors, and put them into a large glass jar, along with the caterpillar.

We kept it supplied with plenty of fresh parsley until one morning we found it all bound up in a chrysalis.

A few weeks later, the boys watched in wonder as the butterfly struggled to free itself from the chrysalis and practice opening its gorgeous wings. Later than morning we released it outdoors, and the boys enjoyed watching their very own butterfly fly away.

3. Rosemary

Rosemary is such a wonderful herb. The sharp, full flavor is perfect for flavoring meats and marinades. Once the needles are stripped, you can use the stems as skewers for grilling meat and vegetable kabobs. One of my very favorite ways to use it is in a homemade infused olive oil.

Rosemary is a perennial herb, so once it’s established, you can enjoy it for many years. Unpruned rosemary can grow up to six feet tall in zones 8 and higher, but you can still enjoy it’s beauty if you live in a cooler zone by growing it in a pot and moving it indoors during winter.

Rosemary makes a wonderful hair tonic to strengthen, soften, and encourage growth. Simply brew a few springs in water, allow to steep, then transfer to a spray bottle and use as a leave-in conditioner.

Although there are many ways to use rosemary, I also simply admire it’s beauty as a gorgeous and stately addition to the herb garden.

Fresh Herbs in a Basket

4. Oregano

I’ve lost track of just how many years I’ve had my oregano plant. This easy-care perennial is truly a no-fuss herb, hardy in zones 5-9. Oregano prefers well-drained soil and doesn’t need to be fertilized.

Because it tends to trail and root where stems touch the ground, I like to grow it in a large pot all year long, with trailing vines spilling over the sides. The trailing vines are perfect for cuttings to bring into the kitchen. In cooler zones it can be cut back to the ground and mulched before winter for new growth the following spring. 

I nearly always pair oregano with basil for topping pizza, making herb butter, and in homemade pasta sauce. It’s also a great addition to egg dishes, pasta salad, and homemade herbal vinegars

5. Thyme

I love the tiny, delicate leaves and flowers of thyme almost as much as I love to rub my fingers across the stems and release the fragrant aroma.

This woody perennial has been a favorite in my herb garden for as long as I’ve grown it. The blooms attract pollinating bees to the garden, and it’s Mediterranean habit, which prefers a somewhat dry and sunny location with little fertility in the soil, makes it easy to grow – regardless of your soil. It will grow in richer soil, but won’t be as fragrant.

Thyme blends well with basil, oregano, garlic, and other Mediterranean flavors such as olive oil and tomatoes. You can easily zip the tiny leaves off the stems by holding the end of the the stem tightly between your thumb and finger, then running the thumb and finger of the other hand down the stem from top to bottom. Once you have enough thyme, simply chop with a large knife – no stems!

There’s a lot more to know about these herbs, but I hope you’re inspired now get to know them yourself. They’re all wonderful and perfect for starting an herb bed. Pick two or three that appeal to you and give them a try in your garden this year! You can also dry these herbs for long-keeping. 

Do you grow herbs? What are your favorites? What would you like to grow this year?

 

About Karen

Karen is a blessed wife and grateful mom to 7 sons and 1 daughter. When she's not homeschooling her 5 youngest children, she enjoys trying new bread recipes, working on DIY projects, sipping a hot mug of tea, or seeking to find the beauty in everyday life. She loves gardening and is passionate about growing from heirloom seeds. Visit her at To Work with My Hands. 

Comments

  1. I am so anxious to get going on my garden this year! Last year I tried some herbs and didn’t do so well – the weather here in Wisconsin didn’t cooperate and gardens around here kind of tanked. My basil did ok, the rest not so much. This article helps and I will refer to it this year as I start my garden. Thanks for the tips.

  2. Adding herbs to my garden is one of my goals this year!

  3. Lemon balm is one of my favorites. I also like lovage which is a cross between celery and parsley.

  4. I love growing my own herbs – these are some of my favorites. I also love lemon verbena, tarragon, dill and cilantro.

  5. I would love to grow all of these! We tried to grow a few indoors, but we kept killing them by not watering them. Oops.

  6. I definitely need to grow parsley again this year, and I can’t wait to start my basil this year, we’re out of homemade pesto already!

Trackbacks

  1. […] is such an amazing herb, and one that I think every herb gardener should grow. I’ve really gotten to know a lot more about it by growing it myself instead of just picking […]

  2. […] not as high on the list of common herbs as basil, oregano isn’t far behind. Nearly everyone is familiar with this classic “pizza […]

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