By: Santana Calo
Recently, I've started growing my own herbs. I love the convenience of being able to harvest as I need to and if I'm being honest, it makes me feel a little bit like a fancy chef. The flavor of fresh, homegrown herbs far surpasses that of the bland, tasteless, dried stuff you get at the store. If you have extra you can even dry your own to have a supply year round. All of these can be grown indoors which is especially helpful if you live in a colder growing zone like I do. Find your growing zone here. (here's the link: https://planthardiness.
Thyme is pretty easy to grow, and is super easy to use in cooking because the leaves are so small they don't require any chopping. Hello, time saver! An essential herb for seasoning chicken and very popular in French cuisine, Thyme would definitely get put to good use in your kitchen garden! Generally hardy to Zone 5, it may even overwinter in colder zones with some good mulching.
Basil is usually pretty easy to grow and will keep producing all season as long as you pinch off any blossoms. There are so many varieties, you can use it in almost anything! One of my personal favorites is Lemon Basil which has a very lemony fragrance once picked. I have even seen lime and cinnamon varieties! Sadly, basil only grows as an annual, but it's definitely worth it to plant some every year.
Parsley is so versatile and an easy way to add a splash of color to any dish! If you've never had fresh parsley, it's a far cry from the tasteless, dried, commercial stuff you get at the store. You can keep harvesting it over and over as long as you let it grow back between cuttings. It's worth the money for the packet of seeds, for sure! As a biennial, parsley lives for two seasons. During the second it will go to seed and be less flavorful, so you may want to plant yearly even though it's hardy to Zone 2.
Rosemary is an herb that kind of resembles a pine tree. The needle-like leaves have a pungent flavor and aroma. This is another one that's popular for chicken, but can hold its own when used on meats with a strong flavor. Unfortunately it has a notoriously poor germination rate if you grow it from seed. I would recommend buying a starter plant to save yourself the headache. Rosemary is only hardy to Zone 7, so bring it inside if you'd like to keep the same plant year after year!
Cilantro takes a little while to get started, but once it goes, it goes! And then it's done. It has a short life cycle and succession sowing is definitely the way to go if you want a steady supply. It's another herb that will come back after each cutting so you'll have a fresh supply for a few weeks. Plus, cilantro has a cool little two-for-one deal. If you let your plants go to seed, the seeds are actually coriander. Grind them down for your own spice powder and enjoy the full life cycle!
If you love Italian food you'll definitely want to grow some oregano. The perfect addition to complete your spaghetti sauce or a great seasoning for potatoes, oregano will definitely have it's uses in your kitchen! Depending on the variety, it can be hardy to Zone 4, although mulching below Zone 6 is recommended.
Chives are a staple in almost every kitchen garden. If you want a bit of onion flavor without having to cut onions, just add a few snippings of chives! They are hardy to at least Zone 4, which is great because you don't have to replant them each year. Chives spread easily, so be sure to remove the flowers or they could take over your whole garden.
Dill is one of my all-time favorites! The smell of fresh cut dill is way up on my list of favorite smells. It is a fantastic herb to use for fish, chicken, potatoes, homemade ranch... just about anything! The uses are virtually unlimited. If you make your own pickles, dill is definitely an essential! Depending on your growing zone, dill is usually good for two years, but may only last one if you're in a colder climate.
Any of these would be a great addition to your kitchen garden. All of them are very versatile and sure to take your home cooking to the next level! The only problem you'll have is getting addicted to growing every single herb you come across... like me. Happy herbing!
Santana Calo is a wife and mother to two infant daughters, and has lived in Wisconsin her entire life. She loves gardening and being as self-sufficient as possible--homegrown and homemade is what she's all about. Now she and her family are on their way to creating a more natural and sustainable lifestyle while teaching their children the value of hard work. She's also an entrepreneur who is in the beginning stages of starting an herbal body care business. You can find Santana on her blog, www.hogsbackhomestead.com or on social media on Instagram (@hogsbackhomestead) and Facebook