The Most Important Herbs For Your Kitchen Garden – Herbs in containers should be positioned close to the kitchen so they can easily be picked. Most are easy to grow and even a small container or trough will produce sufficient for everyday use in the kitchen.
Container herbs can be planned in three ways: small containers can be devoted to individual herbs – this is very satisfactory for plants such as mint that are very invasive; a large container can be divided up into compartments in imitation of the traditional herb garden; or a number of herbs can be planted together in one container, grouped for color and contrast.
Fresh herbs add delicious flavor to dishes and are generally sweeter and stronger than dried ones.
Oregano. A favorite perennial Mediterranean herb used to flavor stews and many pasta dishes, oregano is a bushy rhizomatous perennial that carries many flowers on upright stalks. These are most attractive to bees and insects and emerge pinkish-white from deep red bracts although there are a number of naturally occurring color variations. Many varieties have been bred for the kitchen garden among them Origanum vulgare ‘aureum’, gold leaves, ‘Aureum Crispum’, curly gold leaves, and ‘Compactum’, smaller in habit. ‘Heiderose’ is more upright and has pink flowers.
Rosemary. Charming rosemary herb (Rosmarinus officinalis) is the perfect container herb to have in your kitchen garden. It is thought to be originated in the Mediterranean region as a wild, strewing evergreen perennial shrub. Rosemary is a hardy bushy perennial shrub with aromatic, evergreen leaves and pale-blue flowers around the stem. Rosemary is easily propagated through cuttings, root division, and layering. However, it is most commonly grown from seed. Every part of you rosemary plant that is above ground can be used for flavoring your cooking.
Common Sage. The common sage (Salvia officinalis) and its varieties has been the best culinary herb for centuries and was formerly used in herbal medicine to treat many diseases. Fresh sage leaves added to salads and dressings. Sage is a relatively high-maintenance herb. To thrive, it needs plenty of sunlight, good soil, and a watering every other day.
Lavender. Lavender is a wonderfully scented evergreen shrub to grow in a container close to the house. It needs sun to show at its best. A low-growing variety can be used to fill a whole container or a selection can fringe a large container. Lavender was used as a medicinal herb in medieval times and is still used in infusions as a cure for coughs. Its chief use in the home is dried in pot pourris or in sachets for scent. Cut back plants hard in spring to within 2.5 cm (1 in) of last year’s growth. Trim lightly after flowering to keep neat.
Cilantro. Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) is both an attractive plant in the herb garden and a favorite herb in the kitchen. The leaves and berries are used in a wide range of Indian and Asian dishes. Cilantro is not the most suitable herb for containers, because it has a long tap root, and care must be taken where it is planted. Sow seeds in succession throughout the summer to ensure a regular supply of fresh leaves.
Basil. Basil is a favorite herb in the kitchen. In temperate zones it should be grown in a trough on a hot sunny windowsill or outside in a container. When outside in the summer it requires frequent watering that is best carried out in the middle of the day. In sheltered gardens it can be grown in the vegetable garden although it dislikes strong winds. Its uses are extensive and favorite dishes that include basil are Insalata tricolore with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella cheese and Soupe au Pistou. There are a number of varieties with different-colored leaves from dark red to light green.