Must-Have Herbs

Posted by Brette in Gardening

My May issue of Living arrived and there is section in it about an herb garden Martha designed for the NY Botanical Garden. It includes a list of what her must-have herbs are in an herb garden: Genovese basil, Red Rubin basil, Pesto Perpetuo basil, chervil, dill, Fernlead dill, flat leaf parsley, sage, sorrel and spearmint.

I grew up with a large herb garden. My dad has one in a raised bed on the side of the garage. I was often sent back there to pick herbs for my mom as she cooked dinner. He had everything you can think of.

We have a sad little herb garden here. Basically we scratched up the dirt next to the house, next to the deck and planted some chives, which come up every year, as well as some oregano that comes back also. I usually plant some basil and it almost always dies.

This year, we are going to make the herb garden bigger and surround it with some landscaping bricks to hold the dirt in. My must-have herbs will include:

– chives

– basil

– oregano

– rosemary

– dill

– sage

– thyme

– parsley (curly leaf)

– cilantro

What are your must-have herbs for an herb garden, or what would you grow if you had one?

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24 Responses

  • She’s much fussier (surprise) on varieties of herbs than I am–but I have a heck of an herb garden. I have a very HOT spot in my garden and the herbs tend to really thrive. In fact, Basil, in particular, likes a TON of sun and heat. So that may be the issue with yours. I can get mine so big they look like small shrubs! That, and my rosemary, which is enorme. (3feet tall, 3 feet wide) and comes back each year.

  • I always like to grow herbs. I have the same problem with basil, or it goes to seed so early then I plant it again. It comes up but never gets very far. My rosemary is always there and I love it. I don’t have to do too much with it except trim it back once in a while, and i use it all the time. There are some herbs I like dried better than fresh, like tarragon, thyme and dill. I grow dill because it’s so easy to grow and is pretty. Right now I have: Dill, Sage, Marjoram, Oregano, Mint, peppermint, and of course Rosemary everywhere. I still need chives, basil, lemongrass, ginger and chervil. I can’t seem to grow flat leaf parsley or cilantro either, I know the curly leaf is so easy to grow up north.

    So that is where my herb garden is headed right now. I’d love to see photos of yours when it gets going.

  • Hi there. I like your list. I’d been planting basil in a pot for years until last year, when I expanded myt collection with rosemary and thyme. Loved it so much that this year, I’m putting in everything that I can think of, veggies, too.

    I like Martha, also. Great site.

  • Stephanie says:

    For me the must-haves are chives, basil, oregano, flat-leaf parsley, thyme, sage, and rosemary. I love being able to go out and snip a sprig of this or that instead of paying $2 a packet at the supermarket for a few tiny leaves, or for a big bunch of parsley when I only need a few stems.

    I grow several kinds of basil- sweet, italian, and thai. The pesto perpetuo is very pretty- I grew it two years ago.

    I’ve never been successful with dill and cilantro, so I skip those. Dill always seems to yellow and die, and cilantro bolts and goes to seed so fast that I never get to use much of it.

    Good luck with your garden!

  • Thanks! I’ve always killed the dill too and I’ve never tried cilantro, but I use it so much that I want to try.

  • My dad used to bring me a pot of an herb assortment and it was so easy to take care of – when I remembered to water it! I’m doing tomatoes in a pot this year – no veggie garden here this year.

  • I’ll post them once we plant – probably not for at least another month here unfortunately.

  • Yes, the spot I’ve been using is shaded until after 12. When we expand it, I should be able to get more sun which will help. I used to have a rosemary plant in my kitchen but it got some weird disease that made it all sticky and then it died.

  • My must have herbs are all the ones you list, but I have a black thumb and have rarely kept any herb (or any other sort of) garden growing.

  • Alene says:

    I have a neat circular planting box on my patio. I’ve filled it with deer food and groundhog food, it seems. So I’m done w/ flowers and have moved on to herbs: chives, marjoram (variegated), thyme (a must!) oregano, basil, mint (in a separate pot where it can do no damage, sage, & lemon thyme (just because I like the smell!) The deer don’t touch them, but the groundhog likes basil, chives, & mint. Thank goodness they grow back easily. When my CSA starts, I’ll be getting occasional bunches of Italian parsley and both Thai and regular basil. (Can’t have too much basil!) Sorry to go on and on. I’m impatient for June, here in N. Virginia.

  • I have tarragon growing out of control in my yard, chives and mint too. But I love cooking with fresh herbs so I’ll be following your progress!

  • sheryl says:

    Every year I say I’m going to try to grow herbs, and every year I fail miserably. Maybe not enough sun? The only herb that seems really hardy (or likes the space I give it) is chives.

  • My chives and oregano grow no matter what I do, but the rest of it doesn’t go well. I am hoping a new garden will change that.

  • if I had one, I’d grow all that you include, plus — not exactly herbs I guess — some sort of hot peppers. now you’ve got me thinking, too, have not used rosemary in a while but I have some — time to make some biscuits…

  • I actually don’t grow many herbs beyond basil. And I LOVE basil. I had 6 plants last year and made enough pesto to last us a year. When we moved, I let my boys go to town with the pesto, instead of rationing and they managed to eat almost a dozen jars in a month. Basil, basil! I’m hopeful that I can grow it successfully here!

  • Oh, that sounds so good! I’ve made pesto once in a while, but never big quantities. Do you refrigerate it or can it? I suppose it could be frozen too, right?

  • Sorrel. I always grow it and make sorrel soup, or add the leaves to salads in the summer for a lemony surprise. It’s a perennial, so you can dig it up and divide it every few years. I don’t think you can kill it.

  • That sounds good. I’ll have to look for some.

  • Definitely basil, as it goes with the tomatoes that are also in the garden.

  • All of the ones you list here EXCEPT cilantro, which I don’t really like!

  • I have learned to really like it in the past few years and I never did before, strangely enough.

  • My must have herbs are the ones I can grow. Many of the ones on your list (though I never have much luck with cilantro) and I’d include mint in the mix.

    I got some good advice from urban farm gal Novella Carpenter that I’ll share here: Grow what you like to eat/use. It’s wonderful, for instance, if you have a robust rosemary plant, and it can look lovely. But if you don’t have a lot of space and rarely cook with rosemary, choose something you know you’ll use.

  • Good advice. No point in growing something you don’t use.