We’re all familiar with the saying farm-to-table but there’s something more rewarding when you put in the time and effort to plant, grow, and prepare what you eat. From perennial vegetables to the easiest herbs to grow, embracing sustainability and eco-friendly practices enables you to minimize your environmental footprint, live a healthier lifestyle, and foster a greater appreciation for the natural world.
In addition to improving quality of life, a newer study found that common herbs like thyme and oregano may hold the key to anti-cancer compounds. With cancer as the second-leading cause of death in the U.S., the important compounds in herbs may open a path to synthesizing plants for medical use. Another study found that the herb rosemary fights COVID-19 along with other inflammatory diseases like Alzheimer’s.
However, the powerful and seemingly magical powers of herbs don’t stop there. According to a recent study, adding about a teaspoon and a half of herbs and spices in our daily diet can lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure after four weeks. This is significant news, as these findings offer people a simple and tasty way of improving heart health without major diet changes.
Offering a cornucopia of benefits, growing your own herbs doesn’t have to be rocket science. Whether your herb garden is perched snugly across a windowsill or stretched across the garden, the easiest herbs to grow will elevate your culinary dishes, promote sustainability, and have you wishing you would’ve started sooner. For these reasons, we’ve compiled a list of the easiest herbs to grow and sustain. Don’t happen to see your favorite herb? Let us know in a comment below!
The List: Easiest Herbs to Grow, According to Experts
“Playing a key role in Italian cuisine, basil leaves preserve exceptionally well in oil or by freezing,” writes Herbs At Home. With its burst of freshness and vibrant green leaves, “basil plants naturally grow well outside when planted in the late spring as they thrive during hot summertime conditions.” With abundant flavors and varieties, basil is a must-have in every household.
Southern Living says, “If you try growing just one herb, make it basil.” A complementary herb for nearly every cuisine, “this herb loves the heat and is among the easiest to grow and the most widely used in the kitchen.” When cultivating, “basil can be started from transplants or directly seeded after the threat of frost has passed.” For best practices, “harvest foliage regularly to prevent plants from blooming as flowering leads to woody growth and more bitter flavors.”
“Basil is a warm weather annual herb that is especially well-suited to container gardening and window boxes,” mentions Gardening Channel. Similar to most herbs, “basil plants respond well to repeated harvesting.” To maintain the potency of the flavor and aroma of basil, “cut off flowering tops when they appear to encourage new growth.” When cooking with basil, it’s best added to dishes “at the end of cooking to preserve flavor and potency.”
“Parsley was once relegated to the corner of plates but now takes center stage for its flavor,” describes Herbs At Home. As a classic Italian herb, parsley comes with curly or flat leaves with “curly leaf parsley being used primarily as decoration and flat-leaf parsley being known for its robust flavor.” Best of all, parsley can tolerate growing in sunny or partially shady conditions and can be harvested multiple times all season.
Better Homes & Gardens states: “Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is available in curled and flat-leaf forms and is used as a garnish, breath freshener, and food flavoring.” Growing up to 1 foot tall, parsley is an “easy to grow herb that requires well-drained soil.” In addition to supporting digestive and breath-freshening properties, parsley offers a rich source of iron, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and K.
How To Culinary Herb Garden says, “Parsley has a clear fresh palate-cleansing flavor somewhat reminiscent of celery.” As a biennial plant, parsley goes to seed and then dies in the year after you plant it. “It’s a bit tricky to start from seed, but parsley will self-sow readily if you let plants go to seed.” Depending on the variety chosen, “parsley may grow nine to eighteen inches high and spread six to nine inches.”
“Related to onions and garlic, chives (Allium schoenoprasum) lend a delicate onion flavor to recipes,” explains Better Homes & Gardens. “Both the slender, tubular leaves and pinkish-purple flowers are edible.” Compared to other herbs, chives have a consistent growth pattern with abundant and continuous harvests that “grow quickly from seeds or small bulbs in beds and containers.”
“Chives are the cousin of scallions, garlic, and leeks, and can be identified by the cute pink pom-pom atop their hollow stems,” describes House Beautiful. Famous for taking over gardens, “chive flowers hold tons of seeds while the stem can be harvested three to four times a year.” For people with a low tolerance for garlic, there are multiple varieties of chives to choose from.
Homes To Love states, “This perennial herb flourishes in pots or the garden.” From soups and omelets to savory spreads and garnishes in Mexican cuisine, chives are a milder alternative to onions “and their onion-like flavor makes them ideal for salads and garnishes.” Even mason jar planters work well for growing chives, as they can flourish in sunny and partly shady conditions.
Real Simple says, “If you’re new to the indoor gardening game, thyme may be the perfect plant to try growing first in your indoor herb garden.” As a hearty, low-growing plant, “thyme loves a lot of direct sun and plenty of water.” With its aromatic leaves and earthy flavor notes, thyme produces abundant harvests and requires minimum maintenance outside of ensuring the “top of the soil remains dried out to prevent root rot.”
“Plant thyme in clay pots to let the soil dry out between waterings and routinely prune back woody stems and the tips of the plants to encourage new growth and bushy plants,” writes Herbs At Home. Used in a variety of dishes, the “flavor of thyme depends on the variety chosen.” Additional benefits of thyme include its strong antifungal and antimicrobial properties.
“Thyme is a quick growing perennial that can even be planted outdoors in the winter,” claims House Beautiful. With its ability to withstand cold conditions, “thyme is the perfect plant for any season with the versatility for winter soups and summer salads.” To add, thyme’s strong scent naturally deters garden pests which makes it an excellent companion plant for warding off pests across the garden.
“This favorite Italian herb is a perennial plant that’ll do just fine indoors as well as outdoors,” explains Real Simple. With similar light and watering preferences to thyme, “oregano can be buddied up in the same planters facing a sunny window, preferably from south to west.” Known for plentiful harvests, oregano is low maintenance and requires minimum attention apart from ensuring “the soil is dried out completely between waterings.”
“When grown outside it acts as a perennial plant, coming back every spring,” explains Herbs At Home. Accentuating many Mediterranean and Mexican dishes, Oregano “is a popular specimen in indoor herb gardens that likes light, well-drained soil with little, if any, fertilizer.” In addition to complementing our favorite cuisines, oregano has digestive, respiratory, and immune-boosting properties.
“There’s good reason Oregano is so popular in Italian and Greek culture: it grows best in dry, warm climates,” says House Beautiful. Like basil, “it needs less water than most plants and grows faster when trimmed.” As a universal companion plant, oregano “helps nurture other species it grows with” while its yielding varietals offer a wide range of culinary uses. For the best of both worlds, “divide and conquer by having indoor pots for quick picking and outdoor stems to boost harder yielding varietals.”
You may also be interested in:
- Real Simple
- Herbs At Home
- House Beautiful
- Southern Living
- Homes To Love
- Gardening Channel
- Better Homes & Gardens
- How to Culinary Herb Garden
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