Great herbs to grow at home — and how to do it
Fresh herbs are relatively easy to grow at home even if you've never gardened before. There's a big difference in flavor between fresh and dried herbs but that's not the only reason to grow your own. Think about how those fabulous flavors can help you stay healthy by cutting some butter and cream out of your cooking and how keeping a few plants around can help you save money at the grocery store. Here are some great herbs to grow at home and some tips on how to do it.
How to grow herbs indoors
If you have an outdoor garden that's great but you can also grow the very same herbs indoors in small pots or window boxes. Jamie Oliver suggests buying pre-potted herbs at the supermarket or garden center if you're a beginner. If you have a green thumb you can try starting them from the seed too.
Oliver recommends choosing containers that have good drainage so your herbs don't get waterlogged and using a compost formulated especially for small-container planting. You'll need to water your herbs daily.
Giving them a trim regularly will stop them from bolting or producing flowers. Bolted herbs don't taste as good. Snipping the herbs at the top as you use them works well.
Make sure they have a good source of light such as a windowsill that faces south. You can also grow herbs indoors in a terrarium as Gardeners explains. Other options include window boxes grow tents and indoor greenhouses. Planet Natural suggests using fluorescent lamps to help the plants grow over the winter and to make sure the herbs produce the oils that give them their flavor.
If you are growing herbs outdoors you can snip as you need them but at the end of the season you may want to harvest what is left and store it.
Preserving and storing herbs
You can snip off all the usable leaves and use a kitchen dehydrator set to 95 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit (up to 125 degrees for higher humidity) to dry them before storing them in airtight containers says the National Center for Home Food Preservation. You can tie heartier herbs like rosemary thyme and parsley into bundles then hang them upside-down to air-dry.
You can freeze herbs to preserve them too. Freeze them in oil suggests The Kitchn to reduce browning and freezer burn. Chop the herbs and place them in an ice cube tray then cover them with oil and place them in the freezer. This method works best with heartier herbs.
The best herbs to grow at home
Many herbs grow both outdoors and indoors but chives parsley basil coriander marjoram dill and mint are particularly suited to indoor growing says Thompson & Morgan. Bonnie Plants adds the caveat however that basil can be a bit fussy about temperature so be sure not to leave a basil plant on a windowsill that gets chilly at night.
So which herbs are the best to grow at home? The best answer to this is "the ones you use all the time!"