If you are planting your first garden or just looking for a few ways to spice up your backyard, consider including a few herbs. Herbs are incredibly functional, especially for the home cook. Being able to pick herbs from your garden to use in a recipe will give you a new meaning for “locavore” and will save you a pretty penny at the grocery store. Herbs are also beneficial to other plants’ growth. If you can only choose a few, here are some great options.
Basil is one of the greatest additions to almost any garden. It tends to grow abundantly in full sunlight, although you can also grow it in pots inside. Basil is also a perennial plant, which adds to its ease. Not only is it one of the most commonly called for fresh herbs in recipes, but also it is one of the most expensive to buy at the store. This is another great reason to plant basil! Need more? Basil is an excellent companion plant because it actually repels many garden pests, like beetles, acts as shade for plants that need humidity and indirect sunlight, and improves the tastes of some vegetables, like tomatoes.
Thyme is a delightful perennial herb that grows in a shrub-like shape. It grows really well in soil that is low in fertility, so it can be a great way to fill places in your garden that might not grow much else; this even includes rocky areas! Thyme is commonly found in recipes, although it is rarely fresh thyme. Luckily for you, thyme dries very easily, so you can do it at home. Dried thyme is fairly expensive, so this is a great money saver.
Chives are great for the first-time gardener, because they are drought-resistant and grow well even in cold conditions. They are also excellent for almost all gardens because they have very beneficial traits. Chives, like other alliums, repel slugs and aphids, two of the worst garden pests. Because of the delicate, grass-like appearance, chives can be planted as a decorative border plant. This way, it is not necessarily using up garden space, but you can grow a great deal of it and let your whole garden enjoy its benefits. For cooks, chives are an excellent addition for many dishes.
As one of the most prolific growers, mint gives the greatest bang for the buck. It grows in almost all soils and is a perennial. However, it can grow so much that it becomes invasive, so you may want to grow it in pots or give it its own bed. Mint is a fun herb to grow because it comes in a vast variety of flavors. Try including the standards, like spearmint, as well as a few good variants, like banana mint!