Guest Post by Katherine Oakes of Modernize
We all have the illusory dream of someday planting a lush and thriving herb garden. And even if this isn’t exactly in your wheelhouse—perhaps you have an admittedly black thumb—it is certainly within your reach. Herbs have stood the test of time—they’ve been planted, cultivated, and harvested by farmers for thousands of years only to remain in our gardens, and on our windowsills and our plates today.
There are so many obvious benefits to growing your own herb garden, as well as many fun and unknown facts about their past and where they came from! Other than being delicious in your meals, herbs can also help increase the value of your property by adding curb appeal, something we always love to see.
So to break it down and help you get started, we picked out 5 of the best herbs to start growing, as well as their benefits, and a little bit of history, too.
This well-loved herb has about 30 different varieties that are lesser known than the typical sweet basil you find at stores and in markets. This plant is native to India and travelled over to Europe (Italy) and Asia during the spice trade. A great herb to have on hand for punching up hearty soups and sauces in the colder months, basil grows well indoors, so long as this warm-weather-loving plant doesn’t fall prey to the cold and dry fall and winter seasons. Grow basil for its delicious flavor and versatility in so many dishes, not to mention how pretty and vibrant it can look on the windowsill.
This spindly herb has a distinct piney taste that hails from the Mediterranean coastline. Besides planting rosemary for culinary purposes, this herb can be used for landscaping, too. Due to its sturdy needles and form, rosemary is used for hedges and topiaries as well as great plants to plant on hillsides that threaten erosion or in between stepping stones to prevent movement.
Lavender is known for its soothing and healing aromatherapy properties as essential oils and those cute, stuffed little bags filled with the dried herb. It originated from the hills of the Mediterranean area but is thought to have traveled to England with Romans in ancient times, and now there is estimated to be over 100 varieties. Plant lavender in your outdoor herb garden because it attracts bees and butterflies—the good kind of insects that will help your garden thrive. Lavender is even great when used in recipes like cookies, baked goods, and lemonade to name a few. Plus, you simply can’t beat the beauty of lavender in your yard.
A great reason alone to plant this fast-growing herb is because of how beginner-friendly it is. It does as well indoors as it does in a garden, without the part where it starts to grow everywhere. So if you are new to this, then mint is a great introduction, as it doesn’t require too much maintenance. Similar to basil, mint comes in many different shapes, forms, and varieties (at least up to 20 kinds) and is also great for cooking. Harvest your mint leaves for tea to cure an upset stomach or muddle it for your mojito!
A finicky plant, thyme tends to do better when it is harvested from a fully-grown plant and replanted in a small container. However, don’t let this deter you from growing thyme—like rosemary it can be used to hold up crumbling landscapes while adding some beautiful greenery as well. Plant thyme by mixing it into open spaces in your garden to hold up the structure and offer a wonderful scent as you walk by. It’s also a pretty ancient plant, too, hailing from Egypt and eventually becoming a sacred plant for many uses by Romans and Greeks.