There’s something gratifying about bringing homegrown fresh herbs to your table, so we’re walking you through the best growing practices and our favorite uses for a few go-to potted herbs.
When repotting herbs in containers, like we used, it’s important to provide them with a high quality, well-draining potting soil that is loose, rather than packed tightly. Each different herb will require its own watering schedule, so if you’re growing multiple at once, we find it helpful to keep a note of how often each one should be given water. Most herbs will require partial sunlight at a minimum, so whether you’re growing outdoors or indoors, a sunny spot will be best. After harvesting, always rinse fresh herbs and pat dry before adding to your favorite dishes.
Note: Instead of planting from seeds, we re-potted these herbs into roomier containers to help them grow larger. For tips on planting herbs from seeds in your specific zone, we suggest talking to your local nursery or garden center.
Mint prefers partial sun and moist soil. This herb grows fast, whether it be in a garden or a pot, so be sure to regularly harvest it by gently pulling off fully grown leaves. This encourages the herb to fill out and continue growth. It is best to use harvested mint leaves immediately for their freshest flavor, but they can also be stored in the refrigerator for several days, air dried or frozen in an air-tight bag or container. Add fresh mint to a fruit smoothie, stir into lemonade and iced tea, or add to salads, sandwiches or your favorite dessert dish.
Full sun and moist soil are ideal growing conditions for basil plants. To harvest, pinch leaf off with your finger where it meets the stem. Using while fresh is most ideal, but if you need to store excess, freezing it in an airtight container will best preserve its flavor. Use this herb to make homemade pesto, infuse oils, top a homemade pizza or add to soups.
A chive plant makes a great windowsill herb because of its ability to grow in sun to partial shade. You’ll want to keep its soil moist, but never wet. To harvest, clip chives with a sharp pair of scissors and then chop on a cutting board. If you have a surplus of growth, you can chop them, store in an airtight container and freeze until ready to use. Chives have a subtle onion and garlic flavor and are perfect for sprinkling on top of omelets, soft cheeses and potato dishes.
A cilantro plant grows best in full sun and prefers to be watered when its soil is dry to the touch. Harvest weekly by snipping the bottom of the stems, which will promote new growth. Add freshly chopped cilantro to tacos, homemade salsa, guacamole or salads.
A great way to temporarily store herbs is to fill a glass container with water and place the harvested stems inside. This will prevent them from wilting before use. Herbs can also be stored this way in the refrigerator for a few days, just be sure to cover loosely with a plastic bag.
If you’re considering trying your hand at growing this season, herbs make a simple starter plant and double as an easy way to spice up your favorite summer meals. All you need is the right recipe for sun and water and you’ll be harvesting in no time. Happy growing!