We are day away from the smell of freshly tilled garden soil and harvesting the fruits of our labor. Gardening, much like cooking can be a hobby for any level of skill. You don’t have to be a master landscaper or five star chef to till away in the kitchen or backyard. Start simple, start small and the creations will come. Check out my list of essential herbs for each level of experience both with a shovel and a spatula.
Herbs for the Novice Cook
In The Garden: The perfect first time herb for any garden. Oregano will grow in pretty much all conditions as long as it gets full sun exposure. It grows so well in fact I recommend you keep it contained to a pot as it will take over any space you give it.
In The Kitchen: Snip a handful of leaves off the plant, and stir it into a pot of tomato sauce. Add some minced garlic, diced onions and a dash of salt and your neighborhood nonna will be kissing both your cheeks.
In The Garden: Choose between curly or flat leaf parsley and sow the seeds directly into rich, moist soil under full sun. A bonus is that parsley also attracts butterflies.
In The Kitchen: You don’t actually have to cook with parsley to look like a gourmet. Snip a few stems and chop up roughly and use it to garnish anything from soups to roast chicken.
In The Garden: If you are going to have any plants in the kitchen make sure it’s a pot of basil. Keep in full sun on a window sill for easy cutting. Quick to regrow after snipping it’s super versatile.
In The Kitchen: Next time you order a pizza to your house chop up a bunch of leaves and sprinkle it on top. Guests will be impressed and you will never eat a pizza the old way again.
In The Garden: Chives need a partially shady spot but once they are planted they will be happy little growers. If you don’t use them fast enough they will shoot up pretty little flowers that are also delicious.
In The Kitchen: Snip a bunch of these little tubes of oniony goodness over top of potato salad or macaroni salad at your next BBQ.
Herbs for the Experienced Cook
In The Garden: For those who don’t taste soap when they eat cilantro this is a great addition to any herb garden. Let it go to seed, dry them and you have coriander. Spread the plants apart in moist, well draining soil in a partially sunny location and snip as you need.
In The Kitchen: Chop up some tomatoes, onions, garlic, jalapenos, squeeze of lime and a handful of chopped cilantro and you become the salsa master.
In The Garden: Plant sage in sandy, loamy soil with lots of sun and let it do its thing. The soft furry leaves can come in a variety of colors of green, gray and light purple making them visually appealing in any garden as well.
In The Kitchen: Wow guests with this simple trick. Brown butter in a fry pan and add full sized leaves. Cook until crisp and then toss with warm gnocchi and grated parmesan.
In The Garden: The soft, frilly leaves are a beautiful addition to any kitchen garden but dill does need a little more pampering. Plant in a sheltered area with lots of sun and well draining soil. Strong winds could snap their delicate stems.
In The Kitchen: Yes dill is used for pickles but why not mix it with yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and salt and have Greek tzatziki?
Herbs for the Advanced Cook
In The Garden: Rosemary is one of the hardiest of herbs to grow. With a solid structure similar to evergreen shrubs Rosemary will produce it’s fragrant stems year after year. Make sure they have lots of space as they can grow up to 4 feet tall.
In The Kitchen: Perfect for roasting chicken or pork. If you want a challenge try making some rosemary focaccia. The time and effort is worth it.
In The Garden: This low spreading perennial is the perfect ground cover in any flower bed but the fact it is edible makes it a sure hit. Give it plenty of bright sunlight, well draining soil and let it take off.
In The Kitchen: One of the best meats that shines when cooked with thyme is lamb. Roast or chops, use this herb generously for a gourmet main dish.
In The Garden: While considered more a perennial flower, lavender also has a place in the kitchen. Incredibly fragrant, with stately purple flowers on top of silver green leaves this plant is for every garden. Plant near a walkway so everyone can enjoy it’s pungent scent with lots of sun.
In The Kitchen: You can include lavender in a lot of baked goods and pairs wonderfully with anything lemon. Add the flowers directly or make an infusion to add to cakes, cupcakes and puddings.