There are so many herbs that can be used in cooking and most people have at least one type of dried herb lurking at the back of their kitchen cupboard. However it’s much nicer to have a plant in your garden that you can go and snip a bit off of when needed. You will probably find that you will use herbs more when you grow them yourself.
One of the greatest things about growing your own herbs is you don’t have to have a garden to grow them in. You can have a mini herb garden on a windowsill or on a balcony. Most herbs are quite happy to live in pots and with mint it is actually highly recommended to keep them in pots as it can be quite invasive.
Basil - I generally buy a small plant from my local supermarket and then harvest leaves as and when I need them. Make sure you keep pinching off the flower heads so that the plant will keep throwing out new leaves all season. I've not tried planting from seed because I've had quite a bit of success growing more plants from cuttings.
Favourite uses: Everything - Salads, pesto, pizza, bolognaise and with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella.
Mint - I strongly recommend growing this in a container; it will take over any space it can. It’s another one I buy from my supermarket and then keep taking cuttings off.
Favourite uses: Tea, desert decoration, in iced water with and without lemon slices.
Rosemary - If you grow it in a pot, it will happily move inside when the weather gets too cold if you live in a cooler climate. It likes to dry out between watering and likes to have its own space.
Favourite uses: small sections poked into the skin of a lamb roast or sprinkled along with garlic over potatoes for roasting.
Chives - Mine is happy in its pot, I give it a haircut whenever I need it for cooking. Chives grow best in sunny well drained spots and look really good in your flower bed as well as a herb garden, thanks to their pretty flowers.
Dill – The tangy flavour is synonymous with pungent pickles. You can use the seeds, flowers, and ferny foliage. The leaves can be harvested whenever they are needed, the flowers are best as they open, and the seeds just as they ripen. Dill likes to be in full sun. If you leave some seeds on the plant, it will self-seed and new seedlings will appear in the garden the next year.
Favourite uses: Sauces, with fish and sprinkled over baby carrots with melted butter.
Fennel – Has a fine textured foliage which resembles dill leaves. It’s really easy to grow and the herb provides a soft, nutty version of anise in the kitchen.
Favourite uses: with fish and in sauces
Oregano - This plant also acts like a ground cover but it is generally polite and doesn't spread too aggressively. The 'Greek' variety is more like the oregano flavour you expect.
Favourite uses: Sprinkle liberally (fresh or dried) over fresh homemade pizza, add to the pot when making sauce from fresh tomatoes and to bolognaise.
Parsley - Another supermarket buy for me. The flat-leaf type is commonly used for cooking and the curled version is more often a decorative garnish. Grow parsley in full sun to partial shade.
Sage – Can get very big and very woody if allowed to so planting it in a container and cutting it back more regularly would control this. Grow sage in full sun with well-drained soil.
Favourite uses: with pork dishes and sauces.
Thyme - Is a low growing plant and lemon thyme is a really good ground cover. It is great for edging beds or placing in the front of a mixed container planting. The plant is also really hardy.
Favourite Uses: wintery stews and summery meat grilling marinades.
Please do let us know in the comments below which herbs you grow at home and what are your favourite uses?
N.B. This article has been written for Australian gardens. If you're reading this from around the world, we do hope you've found it a useful stepping stone for your own further research.