A Step-By-Step Guide to Growing and Using Popular Culinary Herbs

Herbs make an ideal entryway into gardening for beginners, especially newcomers. Easy to grow and require minimal attention once established, herbs provide the perfect opportunity to garden.

Numerous herbs, including chives and cilantro, can be grown as annuals or biennials. Parsley, however, can live for two years before needing to be harvested again, although most herbs also reseed themselves or returned from rootstock if harvested regularly and correctly.


Basil is one of the world’s most revered culinary herbs. It is famously used to add its sweet yet fresh aroma and taste to many recipes, ranging from soups and sauces to pasta, fish, poultry, eggs, vegetables, and cheese dishes. Basil pairs well with tomatoes as a pizza topping ingredient. Harvest and consume fresh basil to preserve its flavors, as its volatile essential oils need careful handling to retain their aroma while harvesting and transporting.

Basil can be easily grown in your garden and containers. It thrives in warm, sunny weather with plenty of ventilation. Greenhouse growing is recommended during the UK summer; however, frost-prone environments will need protection with cloches or row covers. Basil is suitable for mixed vegetable plots or designated herb beds.

Basil leaves can be enjoyed whole or chopped into finely chopped leafy pieces for optimal flavor release. Plants should be regularly trimmed to encourage healthy growth and branching; when flower spikes develop, they should be pinched off to limit seed production while focusing the plant’s energy on creating flavorful leaves instead of seed production. Some cultivars offer colorful purple or pink blooms, which may remain intact if grown as an ornamental.

Basil can be used in many dishes as either an ingredient for pesto or as an aromatic seasoning. It pairs well with Mediterranean herbs like thyme and rosemary to add depth of flavor. Basil pairs particularly well with tomato-based dishes or grilled vegetables; its fresh aroma adds brightness to fresh salads!

Basil is packed with vitamin A and iron and makes an effective digestive aid. Reports say it helps with indigestion, cold symptoms, and stomach spasms. Furthermore, its anti-inflammatory properties may stem from its content of eugenol, which blocks cyclooxygenase activity—an enzyme inhibited by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like NSAIDs. A fresh infusion of basil leaves may even decrease fevers while soothing coughs.


Oregano is an easy Mediterranean herb to cultivate indoors and outdoors, in soil or containers. A versatile ingredient used in tomato-based sauces and pizza recipes, dried oregano has become a straightforward replacement; fresh leaves retain more flavor than their dried equivalent. To get maximum flavor from your oregano harvest, just before the plant flowers, as too many flowers could significantly diminish flavor and cause it to stop producing leaves altogether.

Oregano can be propagated from seed or purchased as an established small plant from your garden center or nursery. When starting from seeds, use a propagator or container filled with peat-free seed compost as a starting point. When seedlings become large enough to handle, they should be transferred into larger pots before being hardened off in an outdoor location; to expedite this process further, place pots inside a heated propagator for quicker results.

Once your plants are established, they don’t require as frequent watering sessions. Light shade is tolerated, but optimal growth occurs under full sunlight. Soil should be well-drained and slightly acidic to a neutral pH level. To amend your existing soil, mix in organic matter like compost or Miracle-Gro Performance Organics All Purpose In-Ground Soil.

Oregano is well-suited to other aromatic herbs, such as marjoram, sage, and thyme. It makes an attractive addition to a garden bed or herb container alongside these other sun-loving plants or in a mixed flower garden with ornamental plants like hollyhocks and daylilies.

Oregano is a perennial plant that lasts many years and requires proper care. It is tolerant of drought, and regular watering will ensure optimal growth. If grown outdoors, outdoor plants should be regularly trimmed back to prevent overcrowding; otherwise, they can easily be propagated from clippings. To get optimal results from pruning branches with lots of leaves while eliminating those without buds, cut stems at a 45-degree angle to promote new growth and boost your plant!


Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a beloved perennial herb known for its piney aroma and dark green leaves with silvery undersides. It adds texture and flavor to numerous dishes. This hardy perennial plant thrives outdoors and indoors, and seed germination can sometimes prove tricky; therefore, soaking or cold stratification may improve success rates for growing it from seed.

Fresh rosemary is used in cooking and baking, particularly in meat dishes. It can be used to add an aromatic flair to dishes featuring chicken, pork, lamb, turkey, or roast potatoes and vegetables; also used in making vinegar, salad dressings, or marinades; it gives baked goods like bread muffins scones their distinctive piney flavor; also added as an ingredient for cocktails as well as adding it to roasted nuts, desserts like cookies or cakes as an attractive garnish; used to flavor vinegar dressings marinades vinegar used in making vinegar used in marinades and dressings made with rosemary as an aromatic ingredient used as well as in making vinegar salad dressings and marinades as well as used in making vinegar salad dressings and marinades as well as used in marinades and marinades made with rosemary as an aromatic addition. Rosemary has long been prized as a fragrant ingredient used as seasoning agents in making vinegar dressings, marinades, marinades, or even adding piney notes in baked goods such as bread muffin scones, giving them that unique piney aroma that stands out among cocktails alongside roast nuts and desserts like cookies and cakes, as well as being added for that aromatic touch to be found only after being added by adding in making marinades with rosemary added.

Like bay leaves, rosemary goes well with grilled food like steak and chicken, tomato dishes, beans, and lemon sauces. When using fresh rosemary, ensure it has been rinsed well as it can be solid; use sparingly, as even small amounts can have an intense flavor described as piney, resinous, astringent, lemony, and peppery!

Rosemary thrives best when grown in full sun and dry soil conditions. Once established, it can tolerate drought, though containers should still receive regular irrigation. Rosemary can tolerate a wide range of temperatures but will become less vigorous at lower temperatures.

For optimal results, take cuttings of new softwood growth of rosemary. Select an inch-long stem and remove all but five leaves at its tips before placing it into a container of soilless potting mix with damp soilless mix and misting daily until roots begin forming in two to three weeks – this indicates roots have taken hold!

Once established in your garden or container, rosemary can be managed easily. It needs only regular watering and trimming to thrive. We suggest fertilizing rosemary each spring using a slow-release vegetable fertilizer.


Thyme is an exceptionally hardy plant with multiple culinary and medical uses. Its volatile oils add flavor and aid digestion, so it’s often included in meat rubs and marinades. Thyme’s antiseptic properties make it an effective treatment for respiratory conditions such as asthma. Thyme thrives even in dry climates and makes a wonderful addition to gardens and container gardens—it spreads quickly!

Propagating thyme from seed can be challenging due to its low germination rate, so for easier propagation, it’s best to divide existing plants or layer them instead. Layering involves taking sections from an existing plant, bending them over, covering them with soil, and gently tamping them until their new sections start growing roots after about 2-3 weeks. Ensure that the planting site offers sufficient sunlight and well-draining soil – as thyme tends to rot in moist environments.

Thyme cuttings can be quickly taken, provided their stem is green and flexible. Next, apply rooting hormone to any exposed ends before planting it in sterile sand or vermiculite for six weeks to form roots before transplanting to either containers or gardens – although spring-summer activity makes this most suitable; other mild climates might allow late autumn planting too.

As with other perennial herbs, thyme is relatively drought tolerant once established yet will benefit from occasional watering. If you are unsure which method would work best in your region, ask at your local greenhouse or nursery.

Once harvested, thyme can last several days in its natural state when kept tightly wrapped in a paper towel and stored in an airtight plastic bag or container. However, longer-term storage options can also be frozen or dried before use.

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