Growing Herbs: A Little Goes a Long Way

Start an herb garden and soon you will be cooking with herbs, drying herbs and using herbs for health.

  • Herbs for the Garden
    Herbs complement all sorts of meals and are a great addition to any cook's garden.
    Photo by Fotolia/Jamdesign
  • 002-033-01
    An old wagon wheel makes a great divider for herbs.
    Illustration by MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
  • Variety of herbs
    Herbs vary both in shape and flavor. Grow a large selection and experiment.
    Illustration by MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

  • Herbs for the Garden
  • 002-033-01
  • Variety of herbs

My husband, Ed, used to be a little sarcastic about my herbs, referring to my herb garden as "the weed patch." He claimed he couldn't tell seedlings from weeds.

But since he's seen to what good use I put my few herbs and how little trouble they are, he has a new appreciation of them. Herbs really fall into the woman's department. For although herbs offer a fascinating and learned hobby and can be grown as flowers for beauty, for fragrance, for dyes, vinegars, tea and incense-making, the main use on a homestead is in cooking.

Although I've heard a number of women say their husbands didn't like herbs in cooking, I'm inclined to think that this is one of those preconceived notions that men have about food and ought not to be taken too seriously, especially, when they say it after a dinner they've relished where herbs have perhaps been used without their knowledge in poultry stuffing, soup, tomato cocktail, iced tea and fruit cup!

I think the reason more of us don't use herbs regularly is because there is so much mumbo-jumbo mixed up in most herb literature just as there used to be about serving wines. Once people discover, as they have about wine, that you can use any herb you like in cooking, then a lot more of us will use herbs. Of course, certain herbs seem to be "just right" with certain foods.

Any cookbook worth owning, even conservative Fannie Farmer, has something on herb cooking. Usually for the beginner it's too much to take in all at once. So, unless you're an accomplished herb-cook, I suggest you start your herb cooking from the angle of what's easy to grow in a small herb garden.

Herbs take practically no space and, because most herbs don't need any complicated soil preparation, you can grow them without even bothering your husband by asking him to prepare the ground. Because you need only about a dozen plants altogether; you can probably plan your herb garden and dig it up yourself. Herbs shouldn't be planted in a wet place. A good mix for the soil for herbs is equal parts of compost and loam and double parts of sand all sifted together.

5/25/2018 4:05:04 PM

Thank you Harriett, you said everything I was thinking. I couldn't cook without both cilantro and corriander. Also, when the plant blooms, the little flowers attract all kinds of beneficial insects to your garden. I plant it all through my garden.

5/25/2018 8:27:26 AM

I am surprised the author has dismissed half of the plant that produces coriander seeds. Cilantro is used in a large part of the world in cooking. It is doubly useful because the leaves and seeds are tasty. There are many who can't eat the leaves without getting the taste of soap, a chemical reaction in their saliva, that's not a failing onthe part of the person or the plant. My concern is, this article is teaching people about good culinary herbs and growing them. Please don't dismiss tge leaves if you can't eat them, just educate about the plant instrad of stating odor is unpleasany, I really like it and so do many I know. Unlike many herbs it is ore than like or dislike, it is physical, please educate fully. One other point, the plant will not grow in heat, plant seeds in fall or late winter to harvest leaves, the seeds will mature after the leaves are not edible any longer. Time it like maybe spinach or lettuce.



Fall 2021!

Put your DIY skills to the test throughout November. We’re mixing full meal recipes in jars, crafting with flowers, backyard composting, cultivating mushrooms, and more!


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