Best Herbs for Beginner Gardeners


Grow the herbs you regularly use for cooking.

ADOBE STOCK / Tips

Grow the herbs you regularly use for cooking.

Question

I would like to grow my own herbs for cooking, but I haven’t had any luck with cilantro or basil. Which herbs are best for a beginner gardener?

Concrete troughs provide warm conditions where Mediterranean herbs thrive.

SHERYN DEAN/GROWING UP/Stuff

Concrete troughs provide warm conditions where Mediterranean herbs thrive.

Answer

The best herbs to grow are the ones you actually use.

The vast majority are very hardy plants that grow well in all but the heaviest soils, provided they receive full sun and good drainage.

Thyme, marjoram or oregano, rosemary, parsley, chives and mint are good for starters and are probably the ones most often used in cooking for European and Mediterranean recipes. If you love Asian food, add lemongrass, Thai basil, and cilantro to the list. Cilantro is also essential to Mexican cuisine.

If you have space, a laurel is also useful. They grow into tall trees in the ground but can be kept for many years in a large pot.

READ MORE:
* Growing and caring for herbs in the spring
* How to grow edible herbs in small spaces
* Can I prevent my herbs from going to seed?
* 10 essential kitchen herbs every garden should grow
* 10 tips to help you grow all the herbs you’ll ever need
* Herbs to grow for your favorite global cuisine

Cut the tips of the basil to stop its flowering and prolong the harvest.

Sally Tagg/New Zealand gardener

Cut the tips of the basil to stop its flowering and prolong the harvest.

Try basil and cilantro again. They are easy to grow if you follow these guidelines.

Basil is a real heat lover. Seeds sown outdoors too early in the spring will not germinate reliably as they need a soil temperature of 20°C. Wait until November and transplant a punnet of large-leaved ‘Sweet Genovese’ seedlings to a sunny spot in the garden. Keep them well watered and you’ll have pesto all summer long.

Read more: Basil: how to plant, care for and harvest this fragrant herb

The best time to grow cilantro is in the spring and fall when the weather is cooler.  In the summer it flowers and sets seed if it dries out, so plant it in the shade of taller plants and keep it well watered.

PIXABAY/Stuff

The best time to grow cilantro is in the spring and fall when the weather is cooler. In the summer it flowers and sets seed if it dries out, so plant it in the shade of taller plants and keep it well watered.

The trick to growing cilantro is to always grow it from seed sown directly in the garden. Cilantro has a long taproot and does not like to be transplanted. It responds by rushing to flower and produce seed, a process called bolting. Hot, dry weather can also trigger bolting, so keep your plants well watered during the summer months. Cilantro is naturally a short-lived plant (six to eight weeks in summer), so for a continuous supply of tender young leaves you will need to sow seeds every three weeks.

Read more: How to grow cilantro

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