In college I learned that I love to cook. I also learned that fresh herbs are painfully expensive at the grocery store, especially on my very tight retail clerk’s budget. So, one of the very first things that I ever grew from seed was a small pot full of herbs. It was then that I learned just how convenient and easy growing herbs in containers can be. I still grow many container herbs year-round, so I’ve always got a fresh supply of many culinary ingredients.
Genovese Basil: An absolute must for any herb collection, Genovese Basil is prolific, easy to grow, and is a fantastic basil for most kitchen uses, especially in Italian-inspired cooking. Just a couple of these largish leaves can turn most any normal meal into instant gourmet cooking. Try making your own Pesto: it’s an easy, healthy way to impress your guests.
Chives: Besides being so easy to grow that you’ll have trouble believing it, Chives are an attractive plant whose unique growing habit lends great contrast to herb gardens (in or out of containers). Plus, there is absolutely no substitute for chives in a variety of recipes. For a really unique flavor, try Garlic Chives.
Cilantro: For Mexican cuisine, Cilantro is an absolute must. It is the perfect herb to compliment the acidic ingredients common in Mexican foods, such as lime and tomato. Also called Coriander, Cilantro is both a spice and an herb in one plant. Use the leaves as the herb Cilantro, and, once it goes to seed, dry the seeds (technically tiny fruit, but I digress) in the sun and grind them into the spice Coriander. The leaves of Cilantro are best fresh, but they can also be used dried or frozen. Try Cilantro Delfino, one of the easiest varieties to grow in a container. It grows quickly, produces lots of leaves, and is slow to bolt, which means that it will produce more delicious cilantro for longer.
Lemon Grass: Just like Cilantro is a must for Mexican food, Lemon Grass is necessary for many Asian dishes. The leaves and stems are delicious fresh or dried, and give a distinct lemony flavor to anything they’re in that just can’t be replicated. Lemon Grass is great in Asian soups, and is a great addition for unique hot teas.
Red-Leafed Basil: This dark basil brings a spicier, more intense flavor to the kitchen than most other types of basil. For rich, deeply flavorful cuisine, use Red-Leafed basil with artichoke hearts or in nearly anything with vinegar. Crush the leaves into hot vinegar or very warm olive oil to make an amazing foundation for salad dressings, or to lend a unique, subtle flavor to anything sautéed in the oil. It’s also a unique, beautiful plant whose dark red foliage can lend great contrast in a planter of mixed green herbs.
You just can’t beat an indoor herb garden for an easy, inexpensive way to always have fresh ingredients for your cooking year round. It’s also a great project for kids and adds beauty while freshening your air. Give your own indoor herb garden a try this year.
Thomas Andrews is a garden writer for the Park Seed Company and the Park Seed Garden Journal. In a span of three generations, Park Seed Co. has grown from a one page list of seeds handed out to neighbors and friends to the largest family-owned direct-marketing horticulture company in the U.S. Park Seed offers gardeners, through its catalogs and corresponding web sites, thousands of choice seeds, plants, bulbs, and gardening aids. Park Seed is proud to carry a variety of high quality container herbs.
Source: Thomas Andrews