A Beginners Guide to Growing Your Own Herbs for Cooking

Growing your own herbs is one of the most easiest and pleasurable ways to add a burst of flavour to your meals. Not only does it taste great, they present beautifully and make your meals pop on the plate.

Nothing beats the feeling of ducking out to your garden or pot plant to pick your own fresh herbs. Besides, I choose fresh herbs over a few dried sprigs and a squeezy tube any day.



You will be surprised how easy it is to grow and maintain your very own herb garden bed or indoor pot plant at home. For little effort and a few dollars, you too can enjoy fresh herbs at home without the trip to the supermarket. Here’s how:

Choose what you like to grow

Here are some popular herbs used for home cooking. Each one has its taste and aroma so happily experiment with your dishes. TIP: The best way to have a successful first herb garden is to start small. Plant a few that you know you’ll use regularly then get more adventurous from there.

  • Basil

Widely used in Italian cooking and perfect for soups, sauces and salads. Basil is simple to grow from seed but requires plenty of warmth and sunlight. TIP: Fresh is best. Always toss basil at the end of cooking or in salads to achieve maximum flavour.

 

Basil & Mediterranean dishes are a marriage made in heaven. Photo credit: PEXELS

  • Oregano

The aromatic flavour of oregano makes it the perfect addition to Mediterranean and Mexican cuisines. Enjoyed fresh or dried, this flavourful herb is well known in pizzas and in a variety of dishes such as lamb, vegetables, stuffings.

  • Parsley

One of my favourite and easy to grow herbs. I personally enjoy the flat leaf kind especially in my tabouli salad. It’s extremely versatile and I love to toss plenty in my salads or as a garnish. Don’t hold back! TIP: Cut the outermost stalks just above ground level, which will encourage further growth.

  • Coriander

I enjoy using coriander in authentic Asian cooking. Perfect as a garnish, spice rub, or curry paste. It’s a fast growing herb that can be planted in spring and again in late summer.

  • Chives

Leaves have a mild onion flavour. They pair well with cheese, eggs or potatoes. I love to use them in savoury dishes such as garlic bread, savoury muffins or omelette, cream cheese.

  • Mint

I love mint for its freshness and prefer it uncooked in salads, rice paper rolls or beverages. TIP: Plant in the spring and keep contained as they can grow and spread quite easily.

  • Dill

Slightly distinct bitter taste, dill works deliciously well with picked cucumbers, salad and fish dishes. Simply slice and sprinkle the leaves.

  • Thyme

A delicate little herb used in a variety of Italian dishes. Think sauces, stews and stuffings. Its aromatic flavour is perfect to season meat such as poultry and pork.

  • Rosemary

This sprig like herb is wonderful pine like smelling. Leaves dry easily for preserving. Widely used to spice up Mediterranean dishes. TIP: Very easy to grow from stem tip cuttings.

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Decide where you want to grow

Your outdoor herb garden will thrive in a sheltered sunny spot. Preferably somewhere accessible and close to your kitchen. If planting indoors, remember that herbs need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight.

Position your pot near a window (such as northwest facing) or rotate to another window. This will ensure your precious herb gets enough natural sunlight.

Always keep herbs close to the kitchen for that last minute garnish or flavour hit. Photo credit: PEXELS

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Lets go shopping!

It’s time to head to your local nursery or hardware store. There you will find some seeds or seedlings. If you want to get a head start, go for the seedlings as they have already sprouted and you will enjoy your harvest earlier.

You might also be lucky enough to grab some cuttings off family or friends. You will need a small shovel, gardening gloves and some compost. If growing indoors you will need a large clay or plastic pot, composting soil and plant fertiliser.

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Keep your plants happy and healthy

Next, dig holes deep enough for each plant approximately 6-12 inches. Most herbs don’t need deep soil to be productive. As long as it is well drained.

Water your herbs immediately after planting. Don’t go overboard - herbs only need re-watering if the soil gets dry, at least once a week. Pull surrounding weeds to ensure they don’t steal any nutrients.

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Harvest and Enjoy!

Pick or snip the leaves when ready to harvest. Handle with care and do not pick the stems bare to encourage further growth.

Rinse herbs in cold water and ta da! There you have it - fresh homegrown herbs ready to be served. Use fresh or you can freeze or even air dry for future use.


What’s your favourite herb? Do you have any suggestions on how to best cook with herbs? Our family favourite is my fail proof rosemary crumbed chicken. My kids love it and don't even mind the little flecks of green. Go on, get creative!

 

How to Grow Your Own Herbs for Cooking


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