How many times have you started cooking and said to yourself, “Oh, I forgot to get basil at the store…”? Well, if you’re like the rest of us it has probably happened at least once. I’ve learned my lesson and try to the have the most commonly used herbs on hand, which I grow myself. Growing herbs is surprisingly easy because they do most of the work themselves.
You have two options to choose from:
- Growing from seed
- Growing using a start (A start is a plant that already has an established root system.)
You can buy seeds and starts from any local nursery or home improvement gardening center (Lowe’s and Home Depot have some of the best priced for start plants. The following are websites for your gardening needs.
Many of these herbs do well indoors, but depending on your Zone/region you may have better luck growing outdoors.
Here is a list of commonly used herbs that are necessary for cooking (no matter what type of cuisine you make):
- Genovese Basil (cultivar of ‘sweet basil’)
- Purple Basil (popular in Asian cooking, has several varieties)
- Coriander Seed (popular in Asian cooking)
- Cilantro (the plant part of coriander seed, also popular in Asian cooking)
- French Tarragon
- Garlic Chives
- Green onions (scallions) – even those these are not classified as an herb or spice they are extremely easy to grow and can be done so by using store bought ones and cutting off the bulb, leaving about an inch or two above the bulb. Place in water to hydrate the roots for a few days then transfer to a pot or planter.
In most Mediterranean cooking there are just a handful of herbs that will be used for almost every dish.
- Genovese Basil
- Garlic chives (great for garnishing, salads, and panini)
I have found that in parts of Zone 9 and 10 (where I live in Florida) Oregano, Rosemary, and Thyme grow much better from starts rather than seed.
USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map:
There are a variety of books from your local library or bookstore that discuss growing, but sometimes it’s trial and error, as it was in my case. You can even take some classes from your community college or look to volunteer at a co-op to learn more.