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© 2014 Shanna Lea
Fresh herbs are a great way to bring the flavors of your meals to life. Buying fresh herbs at the grocery store can be expensive though, and when I’m looking for a particular herb, they are always sold out or not in season. I love using dried herbs too, but there are just some recipes where only fresh herbs will do.
Another way to have fresh herbs available all year long is to grow them yourself! All you need is a small space. Below, I’ve listed the herbs that are easiest to grow as well as the most versatile for recipes. The following list of easy-to-grow culinary herbs will get you started.
Here are the 4 Easy-to-Grow and Versatile Herbs
Basil: Basil tops the list of herbs because it is so versatile and easy to grow from seed. All you need is a small pot and a sunny windowsill. Imagine, fresh basil at your fingertips all year long.
What’s better than juicy tomatoes paired with fresh mozzarella and fresh picked basil? You can make this for a delicious and easy lunch or dinner salad by topping with a balsamic reduction, extra virgin olive oil, a little sea salt, and fresh-cracked pepper.
And of course, basil is an important ingredient in pesto, which pairs beautifully with tomato-based sauces.
Or how about a grilled cheese sandwich with melted Brie cheese on sourdough and julienned basil added for a unique twist?
Try growing purple basil and make a beautiful and delicious purple basil jelly.
Cilantro (Coriander): This herb is a staple in Mexican cooking. Fresh cilantro is also a key ingredient for homemade salsa. Add it to salad greens for a unique flavor. And it is used in marinades for chicken, beef, pork and veggies. My favorite is to marinate fajita recipes!
Cilantro is easy to grow from seed. Keep the plant plucked down to extend its life and grow it in cooler areas. It will eventually “bolt” and form lacy flowers that will produce seeds that you can harvest. Those seeds can be lightly toasted and ground to a powder to create coriander. Coriander is more mellow in flavor than fresh cilantro and complements many recipes.
Rosemary: Although rosemary can be started from seeds, you may find it easier to pick up small plants from your local garden center each spring. They can be kept indoors during cooler weather, just make sure to keep them in a sunny window (southern exposure) and keep them moist so they are happy.
Rosemary is used for marinades for roasted pork, beef and chicken. It also gives a wonderful earthy aroma to roasted new potatoes and homemade focaccia bread.
Rosemary is a pretty plant; I loved growing it in my previous gardens. It has decorative appeal and adds structure to the herb garden with its upright growth habit. You can also easily shape it to look like a Christmas tree. This makes a beautiful gift for someone special during the holidays.
Thyme: This classic culinary herb is so easy to grow and a staple in many cuisines. It adds a distinctive flavor to meat-based dishes and is delicious in stews and soups. Try lemon thyme for a hint of citrus flavor to your recipes.
Thyme is another beautiful plant to grow and looks great next to taller herbs like rosemary. If you want to add a fragrant element to your landscape, grow it on the edges of walkways and paths. Just don’t use it from these areas for cooking, especially if you have pets.
Just scratching the surface….
These are just a few of the many easy to grow culinary herbs and plants that grow well in small spaces. They can be used in a diverse range of recipes and not only will you enjoy growing them, but you’ll love using them too.
Check out these small containers to grow herbs in and some books for references…
Containers for Gardening:
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