my list of culinary herbs-grow them for your kitchen

December 20, 2021

With A Useful Herb Chart

The culinary herbs we savor in both our gardens and our kitchens are aromatic and edible plants that everyone can grow and use. Plant some because they enhance your environment and because they will change your meals from so-so to special!

Take Your Planting Ideas From What You Like To Eat

List of Culinary Herbs To Choose From

Use this list of herbs to enhance your garden and your kitchen, Our own herb gardens provide beauty, flavor, and fragrance. Moreover, the herbs from our gardens are essential to cooking, both around the world and down the centuries.

Our Herbal Connections

History tells us that we are eating the same herbs today that people before us, used 5000 years ago. We have all loved the fresh taste and scent and they are healthy alternatives to fat, sodium, calories, and artificial flavors.

This link will take you to the Mayo Clinic site and its recommendations for the healthy use of herbs in cooking.

Which Herbs To Grow?

Choose your favorite cuisine, favorite chef, or source of recipes. You will find herbs and spices in all kinds of food. From the chart below, you can link to articles on specific herbs with growing advice and recipe ideas for each.

How To Grow A Culinary Herb Garden

Herb garden planted in rows

Gardens can become vital elements in our lives. Gardens are a place for contemplation, a place to entertain, a place to exercise or produce our food. Throughout history, poets, theologians, historians, and philosophers have all made the point that gardens are an essential part of a full life. Cicero said that “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”

Grow A Herb Garden For The Kitchen-Wherever You Live

Herbs are beautiful, scented plants of primarily small size. This means that everyone can grow fresh flavor for the kitchen. A small plot of land near the kitchen door or pots and hanging baskets on the patio or the balcony will fill your kitchen. Many herbs can be brought Indoors in Winter to live in a sunny window. Perennial herbs, planted once, will return for years to come, and they are remarkably drought tolerant once established.

Shakespeare’s Knot Garden-My Definition of a Perfect Garden!

The garden pictured at the top of this post is a recreation of what we think William Shakespeare planted. It is located at the site of his home, “New Place,” in Stratford Upon Avon. Here is a fuller description of a visit to 5 gardens related to his life. Tudor gardeners liked to combine culinary herbs with ornamental plants in decorative “Knot Gardens.”

A perfect garden? My definition is beautiful around you and enhances life; being useful to people or animals. What’s yours?

Take the advice of a 16th-century digger, herbs blend well with flowers and shrubs they are edible and beautiful to look at. Shakespeare’s generation loved to entertain in the garden, with story and song. Why not us?

Learning From Our Gardens

Historically, gardeners have been older and wealthier than the average population. That does appear to be changing. We love to travel, but all of us have been stuck at home for much of two long years. More of us have turned to the garden.

We have adapted and so have our outdoor spaces. Recent national studies tell us that backyard gardening is increasing throughout the country and also that gardeners are getting younger.

  • 77% of American households have a garden
  • Older gardeners are holding steady at 35% of the total
  • 29% of all gardening households are aged 18-35

We also know that gardeners are willing to pay for their hobbies. American households spend $47.8 billion on lawn and garden goods. Source

The Kitchen Garden

When we couple those facts with our growing interest in eating well and making our meals from healthy and fresh ingredients, we are led directly to the kitchen garden.

93% of consumers want to eat healthily and 63% say they try to eat healthily most of the time. Source

Sun-Water-Soil!

3 Rules to the Successful Herb Garden

Bundle of chive hebs
Chives Ready To Eat

When planning your garden keep these simple facts in mind. Most herbs are sun-loving plants, with Mediterranean origins. They require three features in a garden;

  • the sun,
  • reasonable water,
  • well-draining soil,

Herbs, Their Beneficial Health Effects

We learn that eating herbs may help with heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. It also appears that herbs may help reduce blood clots and have anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties.

Herbs are simple to grow and become useful to us in small amounts of time. I can buy a small and inexpensive bright green basil plant and within a few weeks, our family will be eating fresh pesto!

Cost and Convenience: Becoming A More Inventive Cook

Every herb grower I know says the same thing. If I have them fresh in the garden, I always find ways to use them. They say I am a more inventive cook. Try it; it’s true.

Growing your own is cost-effective: Many herbs are easy to propagate, We take small cuttings and create new plants. Here’s an example. I use a lot of fresh basil, and the plant I bought long ago is now many new plants and many meals are long since eaten!

Uses For The Herbs You Grow

bread with herb butter

The way you cook and how you like to eat should dictate your choices in the herb garden. Do you like Mediterranean food? The group of herbs originating in that region will be useful to you.

Are you a baker? Herbed bread is delicious, and you can accompany them with your own compound butter? How to make compound butter.

Your roasts and barbecue and soups, salads, and fruit dishes will benefit.

Herbs In Your Garden

Herbs in your garden

Place the garden where you have sun and space. If you have no space, plant in your flower garden or in pots on your patio.

These beautiful and decorative chives are sharing the garden with flowers.

How To Get Started

Laying Out The Garden

Convenient

Choose a convenient location. This might be the most important feature of the herb garden. If it is easy to reach the herbs, you will use them daily. If your sunny location is not near the kitchen door you can add a few herbs you like the most, to a pot near the kitchen.

Sun

This is the second most important feature. Herbs grown in sun, have richer color, better flavor, and more essential oils. In most climates, this means six to eight hours of sun. In my south Florida climate, we look for afternoon shade for our herb garden.

The layout can be as simple as a few plants in containers or raised beds. Herb plants are attractive and share the same growing conditions as much of the flower garden. If the flower garden works for you, use it. Here is an article published by Sunset magazine. It has some useful examples.

Choosing What To Grow

You will want to grow herbs that enhance the food you like to eat. Trying a few new herbal flavors may give you some good ideas. How to find the flavors you want and from plants, you can grow successfully?

There are posts on this site that provide detailed information on each specific herb, the chart that follows should help you find herbs that enhance your meals and will grow in your local garden conditions.

Annual, Perennial, Biannual-See The Chart Item 3

  • Annual-Plant completes its entire life cycle, seed, to flower, to seed, in one growing season. You will start a new plant each year.
  • Perennial-Plant will persist for many years. Usually, the top part dies back in fall and reappears next spring.
  • Biannual-Plant leads its entire life cycle in two growing seasons.

Gardeners living on the edge of plant hardiness zones can have slightly different experiences. So for my humid south Florida garden, some Mediterranean sun lovers fail in summer. These tend to be Oregano, Lavender, Thyme, and Cilantro. Summers vary, but these are our risks.

Can I Bring My Garden Herbs Indoors For The Winter?

Try it; you will at least extend your months of eating cost-effective fresh herbs. Here are my best ideas for doing just that.

The single biggest factor in your success will be providing the 6-8 hours of sun that most herbs need. Your south-facing windows may be sufficient. Otherwise, look into grow lights. There are versions you can attach to the bottoms of kitchen cabinets.

The second factor is water. We tend to be guilty of overwatering and my best ideas are in the article.

My Winter Herb Garden

In our zone 10a. South Florida herb garden winter is our most productive period. The cool weather improves our chances with delicate herbs and we grow cilantro, chervil, and dill with abandon. Here is “December in the South Florida Garden” to show you how it works. If you have, or might like to have a little place in the sun this will help you.

Herbs in your kitchen

Use the chart below to identify features you can use in the kitchen.

Culinary Herbs and their Features

How To Use The Chart Below

  1. Name-click for more.
  2. Plant size/grow in container-Yes/no
  3. Growing zone-annual, perennial, biannual. Here is the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, to find your zone. Remember, low numbers are colder zones, high numbers are warmer.
  4. Light and soil needs-Full Sun=FS. Part Sun=PS-Indoors-BL=bright light (also near window/ grow light)
  5. Water and fertilizer-WD=water deeply, WWD=water when dry, M=keep moist-LF=light fertilizer
  6. Flavor profile
  7. Companion plants, Grow indoors-Y=yes,N=n, SI=good plant to start indoors
  8. Sources I trust

Herb Features Chart

Match the column numbers below to the explanations above.

NAMEPLANT
SIZE
CONTAINER?
ZONE
ANNUAL
PERENNIAL
BIANNUAL
LIGHT
&
SOIL
WATER
&
FERTILIZER
FLAVOR
PROFILE
COMPANION
PLANTS
GROWS
INDOORS?
SOURCES
I
TRUST
1.2.3.4.5.6.7.8.
Basil12-24″H
yes
10 & Above
Annual Elsewhere
FS
Rich, moist
pH5.1-8.5
Moist,
Fertilize
every
4-6 weeks
Fresh, Subtle,
Pepper,
Mint
Oregano,
Chive
Y
Basil
Chervil1′-2′ H
yes
Hardy Annual ReseedsFS/PS
Moist,
Light Fert.
pH 6.5-7
Keep Moist,
Light
Fertilizer
Delicate,
Anise
Helps Lettuce,
Broccoli
Y. YI
Chervil
in Cooking
Chive12″x 12″
yes
Onion 3-9
Garlic 4-9
Perennial
FS
Well Drained Rich
pH6.0-7
Water Deeply
Light Fertilize4-6
Weeks
Subtle
Onion or
Garlic
Versatile
Yes, BL
Chive
Cuban
Oregano
12-18″,
yes
9-11
Perennial
PS
Fast Draining
neutral
pH
Water
When
Dry 2′
Down,
Light Fert.
Very Strong Oregano Scent/TasteHosta, Thyme,
Mint, Lemon
Balm
Y
Cuban Oregano
IFAS
Dill18″-5′Winter 9-11 Summer 3-7
Biennial, self-sows
sunWell-drained, neutral to slightly acidicAnise with
citrus hint
Many, avoid
carrot
family
Y-BL
Dill
from UF/IFAS
Lemon
grass
2-2.5’HPerennialSunWell-drained organicMoist, Fertilize with nitrogenlemon, citrus, mint, basil,
thyme
Lemon
grass
UF/IFAS
Marjoram1-2′
yes
Annual
(Perennial zones 9-10)
SunWell Drained
average soil
WWD,
light water-soluble
fertilizer
Delicate, floral, sweet, woodyMarjoram
Oregano2’H, 18″W
yes
5-12
Perennial
x full sunwell-drained average soilWater fully, not often little fertilizerbold, earthy,Bon Appetit
Fresh Oregano
Parsley12-18″
yes
4-9 Biennial6-8 hrs. in AMmoist, well-drainedwater 2-3 x per week 5-10-5 vegetable fertilizerbrightens food flavor mildly bitterParsley
Rosemaryto 3′zone 9 and warmer
Perennial
Full Sunaverage soil accepts rocky soil, well-drainedwater deeply and rarely, 1-2 weeks apartsharp, piney, can overwhelm the foodFarmers
Almanac
Sage12-24″ T&W
yes
5-11
Perennial
Full Sunsoil with organic matter & well-drainedlight amounts of water & fertilizerstrong, sweet & bitter with citrusSage U Md
Savory1-2′ TSummer -annual
Winter Savory to zone 5
Full Sun fill with organic matter & well-drainedWater to start. Drought tolerantslight peppery noteSavory, from a Seed grower
Tarragon2-3’Tx12″W
yes
4-warmer
Perennial
full/part sunsandy/loamybitter/
sweet
anise-like
Tarragon. Fine Gardening
Thyme6-15″
yes
2-10
Perennial
sunwell-drained


little waterpungent, taste of cloveU FL


Summary,

The Value Of Herbs As An Attractor Of Beneficial Insects

All gardens are victims of damaging insects at one point or another. Herbs have additional value in our environment by being Insectary plants. That means that they are capable of attracting those insects that are natural enemies of the pests that damage our flowers and food. Here is a discussion of Integrated Pest Management and its use of beneficial insects from the University of California.

How This Works

The herbs provide nectar and pollen to the adult insect, the garden is paid back for this service by the offspring of the insect who are in need of dinner. They are either predators or parasites of the bugs that damage the garden.

Here are some ideas that may work in your garden.

Ladybugs

Ladybugs eat damaging aphids. scale, mealybugs, leafhoppers, mites, and other insects. They are attracted by dill, cilantro, fennel, oregano, thyme, and yarrow.

Lacewings

These are beautiful green insects with translucent wings. Their larvae are voracious eaters of aphids and beetles, so much so that they are called Aphid Lions. Lacewings are attracted to angelica, caraway, tansy, yarrow, dill, fennel, and cilantro.

Parasitic Wasps

Fortunately, not stinging, parasitic wasps are small and they attack predators by laying their eggs in or on the predator. If parasitic wasps were movies, they would be horror movies! The eggs hatch and then eat their way out! They will attack tomato hornworms, cabbage worms, bagworms, squash vine borers, and Japanese beetles.

Parasitic Wasps look for dill, fennel, lemon balm, thyme, cilantro, and yarrow.

Hoverflies

hoverfly
Hoverfly, A Beneficial Insect Attracted To Herbs

Hoverflies look like little wasps with yellow bands. Their larva will eat aphids, mealybugs, and other caterpillars. They hover, hummingbird style as they drink nectar from herbs. Their favorites include yarrow, cilantro, dill, fennel, feverfew, and lavender.

Beneficial insects will stay in the garden and produce offspring if there is something to eat. If you see, for example, aphids wipe or wash them off and wait a bit on the insecticides. Beneficial insects will often show up.

The Real Value Of The Herb Garden

The herb garden is perhaps the smallest, simplest garden that gives us a sense of self-reliance. We have the active benefits of life in the garden, plus we bring home our produce and feed the family.

Hesiod, The Farmer Poet

I like to read what smart gardeners have to say and one of my favorite garden writers was a Greek poet called Hesiod who lived 3000 years ago. (That’s several hundred years before what we call “Classical Greece”) He was a philosopher and wrote about the beauty of farming life. His most famous work, studied by scholars today is called “Works and Days.”

Historians, and gardeners, value the stories today because they provide us with a view of what a farmer’s life was in primitive times and so much of it applies to us today.

It consists of advice to farmers; when to plant, when to harvest, how to read the skies, how to take good care of animals. It is also his philosophy, his belief that it is work (he didn’t believe in sleeping even until dawn) that creates success. To him, it was diligence, the actual ethic that created a surplus.

Hesiod said that “work is no disgrace-the disgrace is idleness”-he admired the diligent digger, it was his view of how to lead a good life.

Happy digging