When we’re starting off our herb gardens, it can be best to start with plants that are easy to grow.
Kitchen herbs are a great thing to have and don’t need to take up a lot of room in our backyard or gardens.
Here are some great herbs to start with when beginning a herb garden.
Grow It: Start basil seeds or seedlings, a warm-season annual, after the last frost. When flowering tops appear, cut them off to encourage new leaf production. You can sow a second planting of seeds directly in the garden in early summer.
Eat It: Basil is best fresh. Always toss it in at the end of cooking—heat damages its flavor.
Recommended Varieties: Genovese is best for cooking; specific varieties for spicy flavor, or compact growth habits also available.
Grow It: A mild onion-flavored perennial, chives produce edible flowers in spring and early summer. You can grow chives from seed, but it’s faster to start with plants. Plant as soon as the last frost has passed.
Eat It: Toss chives into almost any dish—add at the end of cooking or they become bitter. You can freeze excess chives; use them as you would fresh.
Recommended Varieties: Compact Grolau is great for containers; Grande features big, broad leaves.
Grow It: A fast-growing annual, cilantro can be planted in spring and again in late summer. Cilantro is among the easiest herbs to start from seeds, but it suffers badly when transplanted.
Eat It: The entire cilantro plant is edible. Enjoy leaves, the brown seeds (coriander) and the roots. Toss the flower heads in salads.
Recommended Varieties: Santo lasts longer than most varieties; Delfino has lacy leaves.
Grow It: You can grow from seed, but seeds are slow sprouters. Plant seedlings in spring, handling roots gently.
Eat It: Parsley’s flavor is best fresh and used at the end of cooking to enliven flavors. To preserve, freeze leaves.
Recommended Varieties: Curly parsley is a lovely edging plant, but cooks prefer the flat-leafed version, often called Italian parsley.
Grow It: This 20-inch-tall woody perennial is pretty cold-hardy, but new plants should be started from rooted stem tip cuttings every other year.
Eat It: Preserve an abundance of sage by drying it, packing it in salt, or mashing it to create a flavorful butter. The sweet flowers are an ideal accompaniment to dishes with light flavors.
Recommended Varieties: Compact Berggarten is great for tight spaces; White Dalmatian features silvery leaves; Tricolor foliage has pink and white stripes.
Grow It: Start with transplants, French tarragon will grow to 24 inches tall with stems that tend to sprawl. If a stem rests on the soil, covering it with soil often coaxes it into developing roots. In midsummer, cut back plants to stimulate new growth.
Eat It: The leaves have an anise flavor that is sweeter earlier in season. In spring, use the entire sprig. Later in summer, the leaves benefit from long cooking, as in stews.
Recommended Varieties: There is one true French tarragon, which must be purchased as a plant. Nibble a leaf before you buy—it should have zingy licorice flavor.