Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Five Popular Herbs to Grow at Home

Fresh herbs are a beautiful thing.  They are miracle workers in the kitchen transforming the simple and plain into the sublime.  Do you use fresh herbs in your cooking?  If you don't, you really must start now.  There are five popular herbs I consider essential in my daily cooking.   They are chives, parsley, basil, rosemary and mint.

You'll find these herbs readily available at your local grocery store, but they are easy to grow in your home herb garden or in pots on a patio, deck or terrace.  I've been growing these herbs for several years in pots on my deck.  That keeps them handy for watering, they provide texture and greenery, they smell great whenever I brush against them and they are handy for snipping and adding to recipes.

Chives Growing In My Garden
Chives are the easiest of all these herbs to grow.  This is one herb you can plant and forget.  It's a perennial herb and once established chives will grow year after year with very little effort on your part.  They provide a subtle hint of onion flavor and a delightful fresh, green color to your dishes.

How do you use chives?  Snipped and mixed with sour cream, chives transform a simple baked potato.

 Mix chives with cream cheese or some fresh ricotta cheese and you'll have a quick spread for crackers.  Add chives to soups, salads, anything.

Rosemary Wintering Over Indoors
Rosemary can be grown in frost free areas year round, but it's best to grow it is pots elsewhere.  Rosemary is difficult to start from seeds, so I always buy a potted plant from my local garden center. 

Rosemary does very well in pots, especially terra cotta pots.  That's because rosemary likes its soil to get a little dry between watering and terra cotta is particularly good for this. 

You can bring your rosemary indoors during the cold weather months.  That is what I have done with the plant you see in the picture. 

Use rosemary in marinades, soups and stews and roast chicken.  The woody stems make terrific skewers for kabobs on your grill.  A little rosemary goes a long way.

Flat Leaf Italian Parsley
Parsley is a workhorse in recipes.  Add it to just about anything for flavor and color.  Toss parsley and butter with boiled red skinned potatoes and add parsley to just about any pasta dish before serving.

You can add the parsley leaves to a salad for extra flavor or add chopped parsley to a simple vinaigrette for added pizazz.

A New Basil Plant
Oh, how I love fresh Basil.  It is a wonderful addition to most tomato based recipes.  We make a wonderfully simple summer tomato salad with tomatoes, red onion and basil. 

An abundant basil plant ensures plenty of basil for pesto that can be frozen and used throughout the fall and winter months. 

There's nothing better than caprese salad with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil!

Mint is essential for summer beverages.  A couple of mint leaves, seltzer and a squeeze of lime makes a refreshing summer drink.  Add it to hot or cold tea for some zing.   Let's not forget the mojito!  Mint is essential for mojitos.

Be sure you plant mint in a pot.  It grows profusely when planted in a garden.  It sends out shoots and grows and grows.  If not contained you'll have mint growing everywhere!  Keep it by your back door and relish the aroma when you brush by it as you go in and out the door.

Are you planting a garden this year?   Plant these five popular herbs this season for added flavor in all your summer cooking.  They are easy to grow, require very little care and will reward you over and over again.  



  1. Sadly I've tried to grow chives because I love them and I managed to kill them off as well. Nothing lives at my house :/

  2. I keep saying that I'm going to grow herbs so I can use fresh herbs in my recipes. I think you have inspired me! Doesn't mint keep deer away? That is a BIG problem for me where I live:(

  3. Found you through comment hour - Love these suggestions. In a very, very sad plant-free home, this seems like a good place to start growing.

  4. A friend of mine has a great herb garden & she uses it to cook all the time! I'm totally going to start! Thanks for this post!

    Stopping by from #commenthour tonight!

  5. I am SUCH an Herb Enthusiast! Everyone needs to grow them!!!!!

  6. A young woman I know has a godmother who has been growing many of the herbs that you've listed here, and she finds it so easy and surprisingly invigorating to manage fresh herbs rather than defaulting on buying them from the market.

    visiting from #commenthour


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