You can grow herbs for culinary purposes, or for their medicinal properties. Herbs are also wonderful grown as a ground cover or as shrubs to fill in spaces in your gardens.
Deciding which herbs to grow is sometimes the hardest part though. There are literally hundreds to choose from. The best place to start is to choose the herbs you use regularly in your cooking, or for any medicinal or cosmetic purposes.
You might just want some fresh mint, thyme or basil for your cooking.
Perhaps you like a sip of herbal tea and want to grow your own organic herbs especially for your brew?
Or maybe you want to start creating your own beauty products, using only natural ingredients?
If you’re still stuck for inspiration, let me give you somewhere to take off from with this list of 10 Must Have Herbs for your edible garden:
Mint is a wonderful herb used to make sauces (think lamb roast), teas and as a compliment to all sorts of delicious salads, so it’s well worth having your own patch of this versatile herb so you get that delicious mint taste fresh from the plant. Mint needs plenty of sun and water but one thing to be aware of is that mint spreads very easily so plant it in it’s own pot to control it’s invasive nature.
Rosemary is another extremely versatile herbs, doing just as well in cooking, medicines and beauty products and as an ornamental garden plant. Easy to grow from cuttings, Rosemary will do well in dry soils as well as in pots and can be clipped to create attractive, quick growing topiary displays.
Basil provides the base for many delicious spreads and sauces and has raised in popularity as a home garden herb. This herbs needs plenty of sun and warmth to grow well and won’t tolerate frost or strong winds. It can be grown inside on a sunny windowsill though and if planted outside around your tomatoes it will repel insects.
This curly leafed herb is well known for it medicinal values and as a source of vitamins. It can help with bad breath, and stomach complaints and makes a lovely garnish sprinkled over a dish. Parsley should be grown in well drained soil, and be watered regularly. It won’t tolerate frosts.
Both the leaves and seeds of this herb are used in cooking, particularly in Indian and Middle Eastern food. It has also been used as an insect repellent (for plants and people) and as a digestive aid. Does well grown in well drained soil in a partially sunny, frost free location.
Often used in stocks, stews and stuffing Thyme is the perfect ingredient to grow in your garden. And, particularly in it’s creeping varieties, makes an excellent ground cover. Thyme is frost tolerant and grows best in free draining soil in a warm space in your garden.
Chives are a delicious addition to so many dishes and can be a great subsitute for Onions in salads if you prefer a lighter, milder taste. Chives like a warm, well drained spot and when it’s time to harvest them, chop then right off to about 2cm from the ground.
Sage is known for it’s healing abilities for colds, sore throats and mouth sores. It’s also commonly used in soaps and perfrumes. Sage grows best in a warm, dry spot and will do well in post. Keep it compact by pruning it back after it has flowered. This also encourages new, soft shoots that have even more flavour.
9) Lemon Grass
If you love to cook asian food, then you definitely want to grow Lemon Grass in your edible garden. Can also help with stomach issues, and depression, and has wonderful antiseptic and antibacterial qualities. Lemon Grass likes a warm, moist soil and prefers to be protected from the winds. Also grows well in containers.
10) Marjoram (Also Known As Oregano)
Marjoram is a favourite for many cooks, lending itself to Italian and Spanish cooking, as well as bouquet garnis. It has been known to help with nausea, and will also remedy colds. Marjoram likes a warm, sunny and well drained spot and will grow well in containers.
Ready to get planting now?
Start with one or two of these herbs and then expand your collection as you master the growing of each one. Soon you’ll have a lovely range of fresh herbs to enjoy.
Got a favourite herb that we haven’t listed here? Share in the comments below which herb is a must have for your garden and why.
Picture attribution: A number of images provided by Hans