What’s not to love about herbs? They’re super easy to grow, and perennial types come back every spring, many lasting through the first frost. Create a simple potager, or kitchen garden, and harvest your herbs for cooking, sprucing up lemonade, cocktails and tea or simply enjoy their cottage charm (and sweet smells!).
This old-fashioned herb isn’t seen that often nowadays, but it’s generally unfussy and can grow to several feet tall. Use fresh leaves for a light celery flavor in casseroles, soups, potato dishes, and poultry dressing.
Parsley is biennial, so it’ll be two seasons before they flower. Buy plants; you’ll lose patience waiting for seeds to sprout. It takes three to five weeks to germinate! Some cooks think Italian flat-leaf parsley has more flavor. Use it in salads, soups, sauces, and potato dishes.
Marjoram has rounded leaves and teeny flowers you almost don’t notice. It prefers sandy soil, but it has zero tolerance for a frost. Plant only in warm climates, or treat as an annual in cold regions of the country. It’s used in poultry dishes, soups, and potatoes.
Delicate, wispy leaves adorn this graceful plant. Some kinds grow up to four feet tall, so make sure it’s in the back of your border. Pollinators especially love the lacey yellow flowers. In most climates, it’s an annual, but it drops plenty of seeds so plants come back. Use leaves anytime or dry seeds to use in pasta dishes or sausage for a mild licorice flavor.
Mint has many different personalities: Spearmint tastes fresh and clean. Chocolate mint tastes sweet. Pineapple mint, well, you get the idea. If you don’t want it to take over the garden (and it will!), plant in a pot sunk into the ground to contain its spread. Add a sprig to lemonade, or chop and toss with home fries. Bonus: Mint is one of those plants that naturally repels mosquitoes.
Sorrel is another less commonly grown herb with long leaves and dark red veins. It likes lots of moisture. The leaves have a lemony tang, and it’s used in salads and soups or as a spinach substitute.
Long, slender leaves and pretty pink or purple globe-like flowers grow in clumps and adapt well to many different kinds of soils. The flowers drop seeds, so you’ll also have baby chive plants in successive years. Both the leaves and flowers are edible with a mild onion flavor. Snip off with scissors (pulling on the plants will yank out the roots) and use in soups, salads, or potato dishes.
Cilantro (the leafy part) and coriander (the seeds found in the dried flower heads) are the same plant. Technically, it’s an annual but let the seed heads drop, and baby cilantro plants will appear in cooler weather. The leaves, flowers, and seeds are edible and delicious in salsa, salads, and Mexican recipes. Side note: Some people aren’t big fans because they have a genetic predisposition to perceive a soapy aftertaste when eating cilantro.
Piney-scented rosemary is a fairly sturdy plant. It’s hardy in mild winters but can survive for years in cold climates if planted in a pot and brought indoors in winter. The tiny purple flowers are quite pretty, and dwarf or trailing varieties make a great addition to the garden. Chop up and top sauces, pasta dishes, and roasted meats.
Honestly, you almost can’t kill oregano. It’s hardy, spreads fast, and has little purple-ish flowers that last for weeks to attract pollinators. Use it in tomato sauce, soups, and pizza.