Herb Gardens

Home Grown Herbs

and Spices

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The Cook's Herb Garden Hardcover  February 15, 2010
by DK Publishing

Herbs have been grown since time immemorial for medicinal purposes, to add flavor to our foods and fragrance to our world.

Most are easily grown once you master the basics.

Anise is an annual herb that can be sown in the garden about 2 weeks after the average last spring frost date. It has licorice-like flavor and is used in many candies, desserts and drinks. Star anise, a different species with similar qualities is less expensive to produce commercially and has replaced anise in many grocery items. For the home grower Anise is the best bet.


Basil is a bushy annual, most varieties grow 1 to 2 feet tall, they have glossy opposing leaves and white flowers. The Basil leaves are utilized in the recipes from many ethnic groups, but most commonly in tomato dishes such as pesto, salads and tomato dishes. Many varieties are available with subtle differences in taste as well as size, and general overall appearance.

Chives are bulb plants, a perennial related to the Lilly, onions and garlic. They are also referred to as Garlic chives and Chinese chives. The Onion chive has tubular leaves and pink flowers and a taste similar to mild onions. Chinese or Garlic chives have a garlic-like flavor with flat leaves and white flowers.

Cilantro ~ Corriander - Cilantro plants actually produce two spices coriander seed and cilantro leaves. It is a versatile spice, in the culinary world, it is used in dishes as diverse as oriental, where it is called Chinese parsley, to Latino, American and Italian.


Dill is an annual herb / spice, with feathery green leaves .it produces attractive yellow-green flowers in both spring and fall. Dill is used most commonly for pickling, such as "Dill Pickles" - but is also used in other culinary delights such as soups and stews.








Dill is known to attract beneficial insects to your garden, lady bugs and predatory wasps in particular. You should however take care as to where you place dill in a vegetable-herb garden, although it is advantageous in some companion gardening schemes it is detrimental in others.



Echinacea American Purple cone flower, a popular herb proven to bolster the immune system. Echinacea is also an aesthetically pleasing perennial garden flower. It makes delicious eye candy for any landscape scenario. Blooms appear in early to mid summer and new blooms continue right up till the first frost. Echinacea Purpurea or American Cone Flower is used to make a tasty herbal tea with medicinal qualities. The Echinacea roots, leaves, and flowers all used in the the blend. See - Echinacea Tea


Garlic - Most of our Garlic is grown in China, free of the regulatory constraints of the USDA, it is treated with bleaches and chlorine to give it a whiter color and with chemicals and preservatives long since banned in the US and most Western countries because of their adverse side effects not only to the ecology but the human body as well. Which is why I choose to grow my own Garlic.

Garlic is not extremely difficult to grow, but does require some patience.
After a long growing season garlic will produce a multitude of bulbs. Garlic does well in the garden as an insect repellent but should be kept away from asparagus, broad beans and peas.

Garlic doesn't have many pest problems in the garden , its actually a natural pest repellent. Diseases that plague garlic are generally limited to fungal, such as white Rot. Some pests that bother onions will also attack garlic.


Ginseng can be a profitable plant to grow if you have the patience and perseverance to see it through. Wild ginseng is much sought after it regions where it grows. It fetches a high price and because of this has been grossly over harvested. In fact it is considered an endangered plant species in many places. It is a perennial herb that reaches roughly 1 - 2 feet at full maturity. Mature harvestable plants should have at least three leaves, each bearing five oval jagged edge leaflets.


Horseradish is generally relegated to the never never land of the culinary realm. Fresh garden grown horseradish however has a unique burning zesty zingy taste that can clear your sinuses and redden the whites of your eyes. It's a very easily grown plant that thrives in most conditions.


Lavender is a flowering plant, grown in flower gardens, and used as an herb, a medicinal and a fragrance in that it gives off a euphoric aroma that has kept it popular for centuries. It has its origins in the Mediterranean regions. For medicinal purpose and in aromatherapy ,lavender provides herbal relief for both headaches and insomnia and also serves as an eco-friendly insect repellent. For culinary purposes lavender is prized for its rich oils.


Marjoram - Oregano and Marjoram are frequently mistaken for one another Marjoram is generally milder and has a sweeter aroma , with a slight after taste of mint. Oregano is a stronger and has a very slight hint of a peppery taste. Oregano is sometimes referred to as wild marjoram and Pot Marjoram is referred to as Cretan oregano . Both plants are of the same genus, but are not the same.


Mint is a pungent aromatic perennial herb. Most varieties of mint will spread rampantly if left unchecked they form a lush ground cover and a net of underground stems. Mint sends out runners that spread above and just below the ground, quickly forming large, lush green fields of mint.

Oregano needs no introduction, it is one of the most commonly used herbs popular in Italian and Mediterranean dishes. It can be grown throughout most of North America but its hardiness varies from variety to variety, some are hardy as far North as zone 3 & 4. Most withstand a moderate freeze. In marginal areas, grow oregano as an annual or in containers that can overwinter indoors.




Parsley, best known as a garnish on many dishes, sprinkled on meat , fish, or even salads it helps retain the fresh flavor of foods, and helps fight the dreaded Halitosis [Bad Breath]. The Parsley plant will grow up to a foot in height . They serve well in symbiotic companion garden schemes for vegetables, herbs and flowers. Curled parsley has ruffled leaves, and is more often used as a garnish than flat leafed varieties.


Rosemary is a hardy perennial herb that's grown not only culinary purposes, but can also be used for personal hygiene in soaps , shampoos and lotions or an aromatic addition to potpourri or sachets. In the Dark Ages, people placed rosemary sprigs under their pillows while sleeping as they believed it would ward off evil spirits and bad dreams. Rosemary is actually an evergreen that can be grown outdoors successfully in Zones 8 and 9. It is a woody-stemmed plant with needles similar to pine needle.


Sage was originally used for purely medicinal purposes. Ancient Middle Eastern Women believed it increased fertility. Europeans of the Dark Ages used it for indigestion. It is a powerful antioxidant, has antibacterial properties as well as being useful in breaking down fats. It's culinary use is believed to have originated as a food preservative. Commonly grown in herb gardens, sage is a low shrub sometimes wider than it is tall. It has a soft velvet light green foliage with delicate blooms and is actually related to evergreens.

Summer and Winter Savory - Winter savory is a perennial , which will regenerate new growth season after season, as opposed to summer savory which is grown as an annual, intended for one season only. Both varieties can be planted in early spring, immediately following the last frost date. They can also be started indoors as early as 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date.



Stevia is an herb which serves as a natural and safe sweetener, it has no calories and it is considered the safest and healthiest sweetener there is. Various types of stevia are extracted from the leaves of the plants, different forms have varying levels of sweetness.


Tarragon - There are three different varieties of herbs referred to as Tarragon all are from the sunflower family. French Tarragon, Russian Tarragon and Mexican Tarragon. They all share the hint of anise/licorice flavor that is valued in many recipes.French tarragon is the most commonly culinary tarragon. Russian tarragon is hardier than the French variety and it's sometimes sold simply as Tarragon, and not distinguished by variety. Russian tarragon has a much milder flavor and a somewhat bitter aftertaste.


Thyme is a perennial herb that belongs in every herb and vegetable garden. Thyme plants are perennial herbs with very small flowers and leaves . Depending on the variety, the flowers can range from white to a deep magenta and all shades in between. Thyme needs minimal care , a regular light pruning after the initial season is however advisable. Do this after the last early season frost, to prevent the plants from becoming brittle.

Turmeric does not produce viable seeds, it reproduces via rhizomes and roots. They are difficult, but not impossible to locate, as are turmeric plants that have already been started. The best way to procure turmeric roots for propagation is from a grocer that carries it as an edible produce. Be sure to purchase several, as many simply won't sprout. Also try to get the largest healthiest looking ones available. Larger turmeric roots will have multiple branches and shoots which can be separated and planted to start multiple plants.


30 Edible Flowers - Many herbs we commonly use are actually colorful and highly aesthetic ornamental flowers that may already be growing in your landscape. Bee balm produces Red flowers with a slight peppermint flavor. Hibiscus tea, made from the hibiscus plant is known to some, reminiscent of cranberry, it is somewhat tart but tasty. Dandelions -The petals have a multitude of uses and a unique taste.Lavender flowers have a taste that is Sweet and spicy simultaneously, the flowers make a good addition to savory and sweet dishes.

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