Yaay! Spring is almost here! Don’t you just love this time of year? The days are getting longer, the birds are singing and Mother Earth is waking up from her winter slumber. The earliest spring trees are beginning to put on a show. I even have daffodils blooming right now which are always a wonderful payoff for the work done planting them last fall. I’m also starting to see the herbs being set out at the garden centers and grocery stores. Today I want to share my 3 FAVORITE and I think the EASIEST herbs to grow at home!
My Love of Gardening
I have been an avid gardener since I was about 20. My very first plant was a pink geranium in a white, urn shaped planter. I literally started with one plant! I definitely didn’t have much confidence in my ability to keep it alive but I felt so grown up going out there to water it every day. We all have to start somewhere, right? It was the beginning of my life long passion for gardening.
I was blessed with two set of Grandparents who were all avid gardeners. Watching them as a young girl definitely inspired me. Their thriving vegetable and flower gardens were EPIC! I definitely grew up eating some delicious home grown goodness. When I think back on it now, I’m amazed at what they were able to produce. The deep red tomatoes, the endless baskets of squash and green beans for days! How did they make it look so easy? I have yet to master any vegetable growing. The one and only time I tried growing a squash plant it was a disaster…lol!
This is an example of the graceful Southern gardens I grew up around. How amazing is this giant blue hydrangea in the garden of my sweet Aunt Carol. This was a 100 year old home she owned in Conway, AR. I would give ANYTHING to be able to successfully grow hydrangeas here in Dallas, but even after trying for 15 years it’s just not the same. It’s way too hot for them here!
While most of my gardening experience is with flowers (annuals & perennials), shrubs and trees, I must admit that there’s something about growing herbs that just make me happy. I love seeing them in their little terracotta pots, going out into the garden to clip some basil for a recipe and watching the bees dance around the rosemary working their magic. Being able to bring something in from your own “kitchen garden” just seems so nostalgic and wonderful. Buying your herbs at the grocery store can’t even compare!
Why Grow Herbs?
This may seem like an obvious question but for those of you who have never grown your own herbs, I’ll give you MY top reasons why you should give it a go!
- FRESHNESS – When you grow your own herbs, you can walk outside and clip what you need directly off of a living plant. It’s at the peak of freshness. This ensures optimum taste and the nutrients haven’t had time to start degrading. Grocery store items are typically cut long ago and packaged in plastic for their ride to your grocery store.
- SAVES YOU MONEY – You can spend about $3-4 for a potted basil plant that should last you ALL season or you can go and spend that same about of money EVERY time you need basil for a recipe. Plus, if you’re like me and usually just need a little bit at a time, the rest of the container spoils before I really have time to use it up.
- SENSE OF CONNECTEDNESS – You just can’t duplicate the feeling you get when you nurture and care for something. Whether that’s a human, animal or plant. Nurturing another living thing is good for us. Being connected to nature even if in a small way adds to our well being. You may not have a full blown vegetable garden (I certainly don’t) but you can still participate in the cycles of life by growing and eating your own herbs. It can help keep you grounded in a small but powerful way.
The 3 Easiest Herbs to Grow at Home
While there are many different herbs to choose from, today I’m going to share with you my 3 favorites. These are the herbs I personally get the most use out of. They also happen to be SUPER easy to grow! My top 3 herbs are Basil, Rosemary and Cilantro.
I typically grow my basil and cilantro in pots each spring. I get my rosemary from my GIANT rosemary garden in my tiny back garden. Rosemary seems to love our Texas soil, summer dryness and heat. I will NEVER run out of rosemary. Please come over and cut some!
While being super aromatic, rosemary is just so versatile. I love using it when I cook salmon and it’s especially yummy slathered on a roasting chicken with lemons stuffed inside. This is my favorite way to roast chicken. Just take a few rosemary sprigs and lemon slices and stuff them inside the whole chicken. It’s so delicious and smells amazing!
I also love adding rosemary to my cauliflower mashed “potatoes”. Just add a tbsp of rosemary to the cauliflower while in the food processor, and of course with some butter, salt and milk. I need to post that recipe, don’t I! Coming soon, I promise!
I also use the rosemary to simmer on my stove top for a wonderful fragrance in your home. (You can read my post “How to make your home smell like Williams Sonoma” here) It is heavenly and a MUST-TRY! Plus, if you’re like me and have a ton of rosemary, you might as well put it to good use.
Who doesn’t love a caprese salad with fresh basil, tomato and mozzarella in the summer time? I know I sure do! Basil is just so yummy and is one of the easiest herbs to grow at home. I typically buy a few small plants at my local garden center and come home and repot them in terracotta planters. Like all the herbs, it will need a warm sunny spot that gets sun at least 6 hours per day to thrive. Water it when the soil feels dry and then every day when the temperatures get high. I find watering early in the morning is best.
I LOVE making a homemade pesto out of my fresh basil. This is definitely a classic herb that you’ll use all summer long. Here are a few pruning tips to get the most out of your basil plants:
- You don’t need to prune basil plants when they are still small; wait until the herb is about 6 inches tall before trimming basil leaves. The more often you prune the basil plant, the bushier and leafier it becomes.
- As soon as flowers become evident, pinch them off so the energy in the plant stays diverted to foliage growth. If the basil plant is growing vertically, pinch the leaves from the top to encourage lateral growth. Use the pinched leaves or dry them, so there’s no waste. Basil grows quickly, so even if you don’t want to use the leaves right away (gasp!), keep trimming back the plant when it gets large and bushy.
- To harvest basil, cut the herb back about ¼-inch above a node, 3 inches from the base of the plant. Leave a few inches of leaves on the plant after pruning. You can be quite aggressive when pruning basil plants since, as already mentioned, they are rapid growers. Even after a major cutting back, the herb will be ready for pruning again in a few weeks.
My last favorite herb to grow at home is Cilantro! I LOVE to use it in this Mexican Tortilla Soup I found in the book, Wheat Belly. It’s also yummy on homemade bean quesadillas or any of your favorite healthy Latin or Asian dishes.
Again, make sure you give your cilantro plants plenty of moisture and lots of sun. I haven’t tried growing this inside since my kitty will eat it but I’ve heard it’s pretty easy to grow in a sunny windowsill.
I hope you’re getting inspired to head to your local nursery and grab some of the best herbs to grow at home! They’re all super easy to grow. You’ll have amazing fresh and delicious herbs on hand any time you need them. I find growing herbs to be extremely rewarding and grounding. Plus, it saves you some money!
What about you? Do you have your own herb garden? What are your favorites? Let us know with a comment!
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