♪ Parley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme ♪
Sorry, that song just popped into my mind! Other than that old Simon and Garfunkle song, when we think of herbs, we usually think of them being used to add flavor to our recipes. But they also contain many phytochemicals, making them very healthy additions to our diets. They have been used as medicines, perfumes, to make teas, and in spiritual ceremonies.
Although there are many different herbs available, some are more difficult to grow than others. As a beginning herb gardener, you may wonder which types of herbs you should grow. The good news is, there are a few types of herbs that are especially easy to grow for beginners. These are generally more hardy plants that don’t require a lot of fertilizer or special work. Here are 7 herbs that you can start with.
Although parsley is often thought of as a simple garnish for your food, it is actually a lot more than that. Health-wise, parsley is a great source of vitamin C, is a wonderful anti-oxidant, and helps protect against things like heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
Parsley is a relatively hardy annual in zones 2-11. Both flat-leaf and curly varieties are easy to care for and grow very well without a lot of extra care. It can do well in full sun to light shade, and needs rich soil that is well-drained but moist. It doesn’t do particularly well in heat.
This herb is an extremely popular herb, and it goes well with many different types of foods. It is commonly used in tomato-based pasta dishes, chicken dishes, and pork dishes. Hard in zones 5-9, oregano does well in raised beds, rock gardens, alongside roads or pathways, or just about anywhere! It needs full sun and well-drained soil, but it actually does better in poor, rocky soil!
Also known as coriander – this annual herb doesn’t need exceptionally rich soil, and isn’t extremely particular about sun and shade. It can do well in full sun or light shade. It is relatively easy to care for, and does well in almost all zones.
Thyme is a perennial herb. It is hardy in zones 4-6. It’s a small, shrub-like herb that requires full sun and moist, well-drained soil. It is quite hardy in its standard zones, and doesn’t require much care at all.
Basil is most commonly used fresh in cooked recipes, especially in Italian cuisine. It is usually added to recipes at the last moment, as cooking quickly destroys it’s flavor. The fresh herb can be kept for a short time in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, or for a longer period in the freezer, after being blanched quickly in boiling water. Drying the herb will cause it to use much of its flavor, and what little flavor remains tastes very different than fresh basil.
Basil in a warm-weather annual herb, although there are a few varieties that are perennial. It is hardy in most zones, but it requires hot, dry conditions to reach peak flavor. It needs full sun, and very rich, moist soil. The only major issues with growing basil are slugs and cool conditions. As long as basil has enough light and heat, and its soil is allowed to dry out between waterings, it usually requires little additional care.
Chives are a perennial herb. Chives can grow well in almost any soil, and almost any conditions. Chives have been known to be seen growing in old gardens that haven’t been tended in many years! It’s hardy in zones 3-9, and prefers full sun. It does do better in rich soils, but doesn’t need it to survive. Chives have a rich, oniony flavor, and they taste great on baked potatoes.
Chives, with Tomatoes
Although it is a type of shrub, this is actually a very good herb for beginners to grow. It’s hardy in zones 8-11, and is remarkably hardy in those zones. It needs full sun to light shade, and rich, well-drained soil. It will tolerate variations in conditions rather well. Just remember, bay leaves reach their full flavor when dry, so be sure to press them between layers of paper towels inside heavy books for a few weeks before you use them.
Remember to be careful about the zones. Although many of these herbs are hardy, they do much better when kept to their hardiness zones. As long as you grow them in the zones in which they do best, most of these herbs will be very easy to care for, and shouldn’t need a whole lot of extra work to take care of them.