I am going through my seeds, preparing to plant in the herb garden. I am not an herbalist, I just like to grow and use herbs. I mostly just cook with them, but there are a couple of herbs that are good for other things. I digress.....
I got to thinking about which herbs are the easiest to grow, and the most practical to have on hand. Lots of people think you have to buy the plant to have the plant, but in most cases this is not true. Herbs can be grown from seed very easily. The trick is to have patience; Herbs generally take longer to germinate.
This is a pretty basic list of herbs to grow for culinary use. I am going to list in number of plants, since most people will not grow from seed. In mild climates, this plan can be used now, for those of you with winter, you might want to refer to it in spring.
Chives, 3-4 plants. They don't take much room, and they multiply. Garlic chives are also wonderful, good to chop and sprinkle on fish or baked potatoes.
Bay- 1 plant. This is a must have. Also, this is a tree. It is very aromatic, bring it in the house for the winter if you have harsh winters.
Dill- 4-6 plants. You can do succession planting with dill, so that you have seeds when you need them and foliage when called for. Also, it will reseed fabulously!
Thyme, 4 plants. You can use English thyme, or common thyme. There is also lemon thyme, but it is not as practical as the common.
Fennel, 2 plants. One plant for you, one plant for the butterflies.
Tarragon, 4 plants. Be sure it is French Tarragon. Russian Tarragon has little flavor or aroma.
And if you are in Texas, well, Texas Tarragon isn't the same thing.
Oregano, Greek, 2 plants. This will spread nicely. You will use it for everything.
Mint, 2 plants. One good Spearmint, one good Peppermint. Grow them in pots, to keep them from taking your garden for their own.
Parsley, 4-6 plants or more. Curly variety and flat parsley. You will use a lot, and the butterflies will eat you out of parsley.
Rosemary, 1 0r 2 plants. If you live where Rosemary is not hardy, grow it as an annual.
Sage, 2 plants. Any variety is good.
Winter Savory, 2 or 3 plants. Very good in Italian cooking.
All of these will grow through our winters. They like it cool, and many will disappear when it gets hot.
There are a few other things you might like to add to your herb garden.
Garlic. You can plant garlic, it will grow and multiply. There are many varieties of garlic, and it is all good.
Onion. Multiplying, bunching, or green onions. A bucket full of multiplying onions planted in the herb garden is a wonderful asset. These are especially fun for children to grow.
Cilantro, a pack of seeds. Depending on how you cook, cilantro can be very valuable in the herb garden. It is especially used in Mexican cuisine. Another name associated with cilantro is corriander. The seeds of cilantro are known as comino, a necessity in preparing carne guisada. Cilantro is the plant with the little white flowers in my picture. It reseeds nicely.
In summer, I grow Basil. Lots of basil, from seed. It germinates very easily and quickly.
These next two are not for culinary use.
Comfry, you will only need one. This plant will multiply, and grow a large clump. It is used to make a poultice by pounding a few leaves, wrapping them in cheesecloth or such, and applying it to scrapes, scratches, cuts, and bruises. It is a very, very excellent aid in the garden, if you are clumsy like I am.
Also, I love lemon verbena in my herb garden too, but I don't know that it has any culinary uses. I use it when I am to teach a class or speak at a seminar. I get very nervous, and I cut a few leaves to keep in my pocket. Bruise a leaf and take a big whiff of the aroma. It smells delicious, and it is very calming, for some reason.
The last thing I favor in the herb garden is flowers. Calendula, snapdragons, and nasturtiums, as well as Laura Bush petunia are favorites of mine.