When you want to grow herbs that will profit and prosper, perennials are the way to go. Perennial herbs will be a blessedly welcome sight in your garden come springtime, especially if you live in a cold Zone 3 or 4. Perennials return year after year and usually with advancing gusto as they mature.
For the sake of this article, we will be looking at culinary herbs, but many of them offer medicinal benefits as also.
Most herbs thrive where there are at least five hours of direct sunlight per day. Many are tolerant of poor soil conditions and some seem to downright enjoy neglect, so herbs make an ideal choice for the fledgling first-time gardener. An herb garden is also a great project for the kids. Good drainage is needed and most enjoy a ph of 5-7.
Herbs are generally slow to germinate, so if you live in a cold zone, you may do well purchasing plants from a nursery or starting seeds indoors.
Harvesting herbs is a lot of fun and most can be dried simply by tying up in bunches and hanging in a dry place. Many varieties can be used to flavor vinegars and butters. Pestos can be made and frozen in ice cube trays for amazing winter treats. Many agree there is nothing from the garden that is so satisfying as the evocative memories produced by the fragrance of the previous summer’s herbs
Chives are a member of the garlic family and have the same medicinal benefits. Chives are good sources of Vitamins A, C, calcium, phosphorous and iron. They produce lovely flowers and are easily grown on a windowsill.
While not known for its culinary contributions, no herb garden is complete without a lush, fragrant display of the queen of aromatherapy. Easy-growing, its medicinal use includes anti-fungal, -bacterial, and -inflammatory. Its fragrance has also been proven to be a sleep aid.
Be careful with this bully: it’s so easy to grow it will take over, but there is nothing like it in Mediterranean cuisine and Juleps.
This herb is almost more beautiful than delicious. It mounds up as it matures and is tremendously versatile in the kitchen. Soups, stews, meats and vegetables all benefit from its flavor and when made into a tea, is said to be a pain reliever.
Bolder than marjoram, this hardy plant will grow into a shrub or ground cover, depending on the type. Oregano is another essential in the well-equipped kitchen.
Some varieties of this top-notch aroma-therapy herb can grow up to six feet, but it can be equally at home in a container. Essential for pork and lamb dishes, its woody stalks can be used as skewers for kabobs. Fresh out of the garden, rosemary smells like Christmas.
This handsome, velvety herb is a beautiful addition to the garden. Try roasting a chicken with a handful of fresh sage in the cavity and you will never be the same again.
This ugly duckling of the garden turns into a swan when you add it to sauces and gravies and transports you to the French countryside. Its fragrance is without equal and is used extensively in vinegars, herb butters and teas.
While not a perennial, garlic has so many culinary and health benefits, it belongs in all herb patches. To grow, one simply separates a head and plants the cloves. Each clove will produce one plant, which in turn can produce up to twenty cloves. It’s fun to harvest and braid into a garlicky rope to hang in your kitchen all winter.
This premier herb will break your heart. It’s a tender annual in cold regions, and grown men have been known to break down and cry after the first killing frost. But there is no such thing as summer without it. Just brush by its shiny greenery and its glorious scent will follow you everywhere, like a loyal puppy. Basil’s culinary uses are limitless, and partnered with garlic, oil and pasta, there really is nothing else one needs to eat. Its visit to our gardens is brief, so take good care of it. Basil is a treasure.