Growing a kitchen herb garden is a rewarding hobby. The plants add style and color to the home and offer fresh flavors for the kitchen. Most herbs will thrive in a sunny windowsill, and gardeners can propagate plants inside or out. Choosing a variety is one of the first things to do, and there are several great options. Here are a few easy to grow varieties that are perfect for cooking.
Basil: Basil comes in a number of different species. The plant is used in the kitchen for its spicy flavor. Basil has a mild pepper taste with traces of clove and mint. The herb is an annual plant in the mint family. Basil is usually identified by its square, hairy stems, and there are more than 40 varieties. Gardeners have several propagation choices, and seeds are a great way to start. The plant should be sown indoors and kept about 70 degrees F. After a week, gardeners should see seedlings. When the seedlings reach their second set of leaves, they can be transplanted into larger pots or put outside. Basil likes the sun and needs a rich soil.
Oregano: Oregano is famous in Mediterranean and Mexican dishes. The plant is related to sweet marjoram and grows into a small bush. It develops pink or white flowers. Oregano is a perennial plant in Europe, but it usually lives as an annual in North America. Gardeners can easily start the plant from seeds during the spring. The plant prefers a little bit of shade and can grow 30 inches high. Harvesting can start when the plant is four inches tall, but the leaves have the most flavor during the flowering period. Basil can grow indoors or out, but it requires a fertile soil that drains well.
Rosemary: Rosemary is another staple in Mediterranean cuisine, and this is an ideal plant for a kitchen herb garden. Rosemary is hard to propagate from seeds, and most gardeners rely on a nursery plant to begin. Rosemary can also be grown from cuttings. To take a cutting, snip about two inches from a mature plant. The stem should be dipped in rooting hormone and put in a mix of moistened potting soil. After two weeks, roots should develop, and the plant can be put outside. Rosemary prefers a warm environment, and it can survive the winter if it is brought indoors. For this reason, many gardeners keep their rosemary plants in a container.
Chives: Chives are used in sauces and salads and are known for their mild onion-like flavor. The plants have flat leaves that are easily chopped and added to dishes. Chives are a hardy plant, and they will return to the same spot each year. The shoots are topped with a purple flower that adds some color to the garden. Chives need full sun and rich soil. Gardeners can propagate chives from seed. The plants can also be purchased from a local garden store or transplanted from a neighbor’s garden. A small clump is easily dug up and moved. The plants thrive in most settings and will quickly take root in their new home. Chives need little regular care, but flowers should be removed from the plants to prevent seed formation. The tender shoots can be harvested after six weeks. Regular harvesting is ideal and promotes rapid growth.
Cilantro: Cilantro is common in Mexican dishes and has a light flavor with citrus overtones. The plant thrives in an indoor garden and does well outdoors as well. The plant does not like hot weather, and even 80-degree days will cause the plant to go to seeds. Seeds should be sown in the fall or winter, and abundant leaves will usually be available in the spring. Once Cilantro has been started, it will return to the same spot each year. Fresh leaves taste the best, but frozen cilantro is also used in the kitchen.