Herb gardens are a great way to add flavor, color, and beauty to your home. They are also a great way to get fresh, healthy herbs right from your own backyard. If you live in cooler growing climates like here in New England, there are many herbs that you can grow successfully.
Creating an herb garden for cooking is a great way to add flavor to your meals. In the cooler regions of the U.S., there are many herbs that are also perennial that you can add to an herb garden.
My 20+ years of gardening experience has always been in New England and my knowledge comes from working in my grow zone 5b/6a gardens. New England’s climate is well-suited for growing a variety of herbs, both annuals and perennials, that can be used in cooking and herbal remedies.
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Before You Start Your Herb Garden:
Before you even plant a single herb there are a couple of tasks to do to get you going in the right direction for a successful garden.
- Choose a sunny location: Most herbs prefer full sun, so choose a location that receives at least six hours of sunlight per day.
- Prepare the soil: Herbs prefer well-draining soil. Amend the soil with compost or other organic matter.
- Select your herbs: Making a list of what herbs you like to cook with is a good way to get started before you even hit the garden center.
Where Can I Plant An Herb Garden?
Well, once you find a nice sunny spot at your home your next decision is what to grow your herb garden in: the ground, raised bed, or containers.
Of course, you can grow herbs, just like any other garden plant, directly in the ground. Just loosen up the soil and I would add compost to amend the soil to make it healthier before planting.
If you don’t have the space for an entire raised bed you can definitely grow herbs in planter pots or even grow bags. Perfect for a deck or patio!
10 Herbs For Your Herb Garden
Here are 10 herbs that would be perfect for your first herb garden!
Basil is a flavorful herb that is often used in Italian cuisine. It is a tender annual that should be planted in the spring after the last frost.
Basil prefers full sun and well-drained soil.
It can be harvested when the leaves are young and tender. There are so many delicious uses for basil in your cooking! You can make homemade pesto to use on pasta, it’s the perfect addition to soups, and there is nothing better in the summer than having a salad made with sliced garden tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, and mozzarella drizzled with balsamic vinegar…it just tastes like Summer!!
One thing you will need to do is keep pinching the tips of the basil plants as they grow and cut off the flowers. This will encourage more growth and a bushier plant.
Keep them well watered, especially during those hot, dry stretches in the Summer.
Chives are a member of the onion family and have a mild onion flavor. They are a perennial herb that can be grown in the ground or in containers.
They were one of the first plants to break ground this Spring.
Chives prefer full sun and well-drained soil. They can be harvested when the stalks are young and tender.
It’s nice to be able to run out to the garden and snip a few chives to use in your mashed or baked potatoes.
Cilantro is a leafy herb that has a fresh, citrusy flavor. It is an annual herb that should be planted in the spring after the last frost.
Cilantro prefers full sun and well-drained soil. Do not overwater this one.
Harvest but clipping off the outer (older) leaves first leaving the new growth in the center.
Remember that cilantro has a relatively short growing season and can quickly bolt (go to seed) in hot weather so it’s better to get this one into your garden as soon as the danger of frost has passed.
Cilantro is another herb that you want to try to prevent from flowering. If it does it will set seeds and then you will end up with coriander. But sometimes if you are in a heat wave it will bolt and flower no matter what you do.
You either love cilantro or think it tastes like soap…there is no in-between! It has to do with genetics so there is an actual reason if you are in the can’t stand it group. I personally love it (luckily)
Dill is a flavorful herb that is often used in pickling and various veggie, sauce, and fish dishes.
It is an annual herb that should be planted in the spring after the last frost.
Dill prefers full sun and well-drained soil. It can be harvested when the flower heads are just starting to open.
I use dill as a companion plant in my garden and add them near my cucumbers. They attract beneficial insects to the area and also repel the dreaded cucumber beetles.
Same with planting dill with brassicas like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts…the dill can help repel cabbage worms and cabbage moths.
To harvest dill seeds, allow the plant to flower and set seeds. Harvest the seed heads when they turn brown and dry on the plant, then collect the seeds by rubbing the seed heads gently. Then you can make your own pickles with your fresh dill seeds!!
Oregano is a flavorful herb that is often used in Italian cuisine. It is a perennial herb that can be grown in the ground or in containers.
Oregano prefers full sun and well-drained soil. It can be harvested when the leaves are young and tender.
Adding fresh oregano to Italian dishes, salads, homemade pizza, and soups is such a game-changer and brightens the flavor of your food.
Parsley is a versatile herb that can be used in a variety of dishes. It is a biennial herb that can be grown in the ground or in containers.
Parsley can grow in full sun to partial shade. In hot climates, provide some afternoon shade to prevent the leaves from wilting. It can be harvested when the leaves are young and tender.
Water regularly, especially during hot, dry weather. Water deeply so that the water reaches the roots. It’s a more tender herb than some of the other ones listed here.
It can be harvested when the leaves are young and tender. Keep clipping and using your parsley to prevent it from flowering. You can use fresh parsley in just about everything!
Rosemary is a hardy herb that has a strong, piney flavor. It is a perennial herb that can be grown in the ground or in containers.
Rosemary prefers full sun and well-drained soil. It can be harvested when the leaves are young and tender.
Just cut off a sprig and run your finger from top to bottom down the woody stem to remove the rosemary to use for cooking.
Rosemary is also one herb that does well growing inside, like in a sunny kitchen window.
Sage is a flavorful herb that is often used in poultry and stuffing. It is a perennial herb that can be grown in the ground or in containers.
Sage prefers full sun and well-drained soil. It can be harvested when the leaves are young and tender.
Sage is a relatively low-maintenance herb. Water the plants regularly, especially during dry periods, but let the soil dry out slightly between waterings.
Prune the plants lightly to encourage bushier growth and prevent them from becoming leggy.
Sage is always the last herb standing after the weather turns cold here in New England. I’ve even been able to harvest a few leaves at Thanksgiving before to use for my turkey.
Thyme is a flavorful herb that is often used in soups, stews, and marinades.
It is a perennial herb that can be grown in the ground or in containers. Thyme prefers full sun and well-drained soil.
Thyme is drought-tolerant once established but when you first plant it in your herb garden water regularly.
Mint is a flavorful herb that can be used in a variety of dishes. It is a perennial herb that can be grown in the ground or in containers.
Mint prefers full sun and well-drained soil. It can be harvested when the leaves are young and tender.
However, keep in mind that can be very invasive and spread through your garden. It’s important to plant it in a container or raised bed where you can control the spread. In my garden, I did plant mint directly in one spot last year and it hasn’t spread much this year.
One good benefit of mint is that it is a great companion plant. A companion plant is one where it helps attract or deter certain garden insects or pests. In mint’s case, its strong scent helps to deter certain garden pests.
Beans, carrots, onions, tomatoes, & radishes can all benefit from having mint nearby as it will help keep away the bad bugs.
I grow both peppermint and spearmint in my garden and love the scent when I brush by it!
If you love iced tea or mojitos mint is a great herb to add to your garden.
Starting an herb garden is a great way to add fresh, flavorful herbs to your cooking and add more green to your backyard or patio. With a little planning and care, you can have a thriving herb garden in no time!
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