Herb Gardening: My Favorite Herbs and Uses for Them
Written by contributor Krissa Jeldy of More Than Mundane.
My dreams of having a full-on garden may not be a realistic option this year, but having a small herb garden is always a possibility. Choosing a few of your favorite and most used herbs to plant each year is something you can do no matter how limited your space.
I use pots on my back porch for a small herb garden, but you can also create an indoor herb garden if you don’t have any outdoor space at all. I love being able to walk out the back door and have a variety of fresh herbs available for my use, rather than having to buy those small bunches at the store for $2.00 or more every time I want some fresh herbs!
Choosing Your Herbs
Think about which herbs you most regularly use in your cooking or in other creations and plant those. These are the ones I’m planting this year:
Calendula (Pot Marigold)
Photo by Robert Verzo
Not only will calendula add some color and beauty to your garden, but you can also use it in many personal care products, such as this calendula salve, perfect for treating skin irritations, rashes, chapped lips and more. Calendula is mild and perfect for sensitive skin, so it works well for babies and kids also.
Lavender is another great one for making your own personal care products. Use the dried flowers to make a Simple Lavender Salve, or use them in a Lavender Sugar Scrub. You can also use lavender in your baking. Try one of these recipes for your next tea party:
Basil is a must have for me. There’s nothing better than making fresh pesto with basil from your own garden. Basil does best in warm, sunny climates and should not be planted until the weather is warm. You can start seedlings indoors and move them outside once the weather is warm.
Oregano also does best in full sun. Fresh oregano pairs well with tomatoes in recipes, and is often found in Italian dishes and other Mediterranean dishes like this Greek-Style Chicken Skillet Dinner. You can also use fresh oregano to make your own Oil of Oregano.
Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs. I use it in my cooking, or even to jazz up a drink, like in this Honey Rosemary Lemonade. Try one of these recipes using rosemary. Rosemary is also an herb that is great in personal care products as well, such as in this Rosemary and Lavender Softening Hair Rinse.
Cilantro is most commonly found in Mexican dishes and there’s nothing better than fresh cilantro in your homemade salsa. You can also use it to top tacos, enchiladas, or chicken tortilla soup. Or make some Cilantro-Lime Butter to top freshly grilled corn on the cob.
There are all types of varieties of mint. Mint is best planted in it’s own container because it has a tendency to take over. Fresh mint is great in iced tea, lemonade, and all kinds of refreshing summer beverages. We even like to add fresh mint to our coffee grounds when we’re brewing a pot of coffee to give our coffee a delicious minty flavor. This year I planted chocolate mint, spearmint, and my peppermint from last year is still going strong.
Additional Uses for Herbs
- To replace dried herbs with fresh herbs in cooking, use double to triple the amount. So if a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon dried oregano, use 2-3 teaspoons fresh oregano.
- No matter which herbs you plant, you can use them to make an herbal infused oil, either for topical use or for use in cooking. Fresh herbs are also great when making your own salad dressings.
- I also love to make herb-infused honey. You can infuse any herb you like in honey, but I especially love lavender.
- And any time you have an abundance of fresh herbs, compound butters are quick, easy, and wonderful to have on hand to spice up your cooking.
Picking, Drying, & Freezing: How to Preserve Summer’s Herbs @ Simple Bites
Start Crafting Your Perfect Crunchy Herb Garden-Now! @ Crunchy Betty
Do you plant herbs in your garden? What are your favorites?
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