Looking for Easy Plants To Grow? Try Growing Herbs!
Fun, useful, and easy to grow, herbs are a great way to begin if you’re new to growing food!
Most herbs grow easily in small spaces—tucked between crops in the garden or planted in pots outside or on a windowsill. Some prolific growers like mint, oregano, sage, and lemon balm are better suited to pots, which keep them from taking over the entire garden. I learned this lesson the hard way after I ignored this sage advice and planted a small mint plant in my garden. Sixteen years later, that mint was popping up all over the garden!
Growing herbs can save you money if you’re cooking on a budget. A small bag of seeds will cost you a few dollars and reward you with tons of herbs. Most herbs are “cut and come again,” meaning you can harvest them, and they’ll continue to regrow throughout the season.
Herbs are packed with flavor, smell lovely, and are loaded with nutrients; they even have medicinal properties.
Mint improves digestive health, boosts the immune system, and helps with brain function.
Basil reduces inflammation and stimulates digestion.
Thyme lowers blood pressure, boosts the immune system, and is anti-viral.
Parsley is rich in iron and fights bad cholesterol and inflammation.
Lemon balm promotes digestive health, detoxifies the body, and reduces anxiety.
Cilantro contains antioxidants, cleanses the body of heavy metals, and helps soothe digestive issues.
We grow herbs year-round to make homemade teas, medicinal preparations, and household cleaning supplies. Of course, we also use them for culinary purposes—basil and oregano in tomato sauce, cilantro in salsa and guacamole, and basil in strawberry lemonade. We make vitamin water, pesto, and sprinkle fresh herbs on many dishes.
Here is our youtube video about growing herbs and how to use them:
Growing Herbs in Pots
Since most herbs have small, fibrous roots, you can grow them in any container with good drainage. They grow well in smaller containers; you can even grow multiple herbs together in the same pot. Just make sure you grow them according to their needs. Many herbs, like chives, parsley, and mint, grow well in self-watering containers.
Be sure to plant herbs in high-quality soil. There’s no need to add a lot of fertilizer, but I like to grow my herbs in soil mixed with a bit of compost or compost tea. I don’t fertilize the herbs anymore than that. Herbs need lots of sun, so be sure to grow them in a bright, sunny spot.
Check out this helpful resource if you’d like to grow herbs from seed.
About Growing Garlic
Garlic bulbs require more space and time, but there’s good news for garlic lovers—you can grow garlic as an herb and use only the greens! Garlic greens are the young garlic shoots that form before the bulb. They’re great tasting and a lot milder than garlic cloves. To grow garlic greens, plant a couple of garlic cloves in soil in a pot. As the greens grow, you can cut as needed, and more will grow!
Here are some of my favorite tricks for using and storing fresh herbs:
- With a store-bought pizza crust, I can make the most brilliant homemade pizzas. In the summer, instead of using bagged spinach, I top them with chopped fresh herbs. (I also add roasted eggplant, chili peppers, and fresh tomatoes from my garden.)
- Add them to your regular salads. A 100% herb salad may be too much for some people, so adjust accordingly. I like about a 50/50 ratio with salad mix.
- Got lots of parsley? Make tabbouleh, a refreshing and nutritious Middle-Eastern dish with bulghur wheat, parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil.
- Substitute fresh herbs for lettuce on sandwiches. Trust me: they add crunch, vitamins and a deliciously unexpected flavor element to any deli sandwich or wrap.
- Got lots of basil? Make pesto. And you can mix up the herbs in pesto, too. Last year, I made a five-herb pesto with basil, mint, oregano, parsley, and thyme. It’s amazing – I’m still hoarding some. Herbs other than basil in pesto also help maintain a more vibrant green color. Pesto is also great for those homemade pizzas
- Make compound butter. Let a stick of butter soften to room temp, then mix in several tablespoons of chopped herbs and a teaspoon of good salt. Slap the mixture onto a sheet of parchment, roll it up into a tube, twist the ends, and chill in the fridge or freezer. Slice into rounds and serve on top of veggies, fish, meat or toast.
- Make infused oil. My mom has always made her own delicious salad dressing with extra-virgin olive oil, crushed garlic, good salt and massive amounts of fresh herbs. It’s also perfect for dipping crusty bread into or for drizzling over roasted veggies, meats, or bruschetta.