10 Herbs That Gardening Newbies Should Start Growing

Jazz up your food and gain a green thumb.

As the weather starts to warm up, many of us are making plans for our summer gardening projects. Whether you have an outdoor garden, a small patio or none of the above, you can still grow fresh herbs at home.

If you're someone who loves to cook, having fresh herbs available can totally change the game for you. And as long as you have a bit of natural light, you can easily start a miniature indoor herb garden. Grow them indoors, grow them outdoors, but make this the year you start your own fresh herb garden.

Here are 10 herbs every herb garden newbie should start with, plus accompanying recipes so you can start using your fresh herbs right away.

Basil

Basil 5 Ways 01:21

Clever uses for this garden favorite.

Sweet basil is one of the most popular and versatile herbs to grow at home. It has a strong, fresh, anise-like aroma and big, juicy, leafy stalks. The great thing about fresh basil is that you can use it in either its dried or fresh form in various recipes. Basil is also full of healthy doses of vitamins C, A and K as well as calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium. When growing your basil, try to remove any flower stalks that may develop, as that will allow you to get the freshest basil leaves.

Chives

Chive Seedlings

Chive Seedlings

Photo by: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Chives are a member of the Allium family, which also includes garlic, shallots and onions. If you decide to grow them outside, they'll help keep away harmful insects like mosquitoes. They taste like a lighter version of onions, so if onions are a bit too strong for you, you might really love chives instead. They also offer anti-inflammatory properties and can help with digestion. They typically work great on a number of dishes including fish, soup, veggies and potatoes. When cutting chives, try to leave stubs that are at least 1/2-inch high so they will continue to grow.

Cilantro

Cilantro 'Santo'

Cilantro 'Santo'

'Santo' is a slow-bolting variety of cilantro, an herb that people tend to either love or hate. The leaves have a strong, soapy taste, but they add a layer of flavor to many Mexican recipes.

Photo by: Courtesy of Ball Horticultural

Courtesy of Ball Horticultural

Cilantro is probably the most polarizing herb out there: people either love it or hate it (and many people really hate it). It's often used in Mexican and Indian dishes and has a bright, fresh, pungent flavor and smell. It's also known to help with digestion and reduce inflammation from gastric upset. When growing cilantro, it's important to keep it neat and get rid of any brown or dried leaves so the rest of your leaves will stay healthy and continue to grow.

Oregano

Oregano makes Compact Leafy Aromatic Display

Oregano makes Compact Leafy Aromatic Display

A cook's must-have, oregano is easily grown in containers. Grow in small pots filled with well-drained, soil-based compost. Place in a sunny spot.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Oregano works great in Greek-style dishes, as well as the seasoning for eggs, meat and poultry. It's also often used as a natural treatment for fungal infections, skin conditions and even muscle and joint pain. It's typically used as a dry herb, though both oregano leaves and flowers are both edible.

Parsley

Flat Leaf Parsley Often Used as Garnish on Foods

Flat Leaf Parsley Often Used as Garnish on Foods

Italian parsley, sometimes known as flat leaf parsley, is a green herb with serrated leaves and a clean, slightly peppery taste. Its flavor is stronger than that of its ruffled cousin, curly leaf parsley. It is often used as a garnish.

©2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Parsley is an herb with a bitter taste, but it works quite well in veggie dishes, soups and salad dressings. It's often considered a natural neutralizer for bad breath, as well as having antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In order to get healthy, leafy stems, make sure to trim your parsley regularly.

Mint

Mint 3 Ways 01:11

Put this prolific herb to good use with these three clever recipes.

If you're looking for an herb that works in a variety of drinks, soups and desserts, you'll love having fresh mint in your kitchen. It has a wonderful, earthy smell, and it can act as a digestive aid. Peppermint tea (made by simply putting some fresh mint into your tea) has also been known to help clear sinus infections or get rid of a headache. I like to put fresh mint, along with lemon and cucumber, into a big pitcher of water and drink from it all day.

Rosemary

3 Great Ways to Use Rosemary 01:00

Check out these three inventive uses for this popular garden herb.

Rosemary is another versatile herb that works well on fish, lamb, chicken, veggies, nuts and bread. It has a lovely aroma that begins to really come out once you start cutting up its stiff, pointy leaves. Rosemary is also known to help relieve everyday stress, as well as help with indigestion.

Sage

Sage

Sage

Sage is an herb often found in sauces, chicken dishes and in sausage recipes. In addition to the herb's leaves, it also produces edible flowers, which are sometimes included in salads or desserts. Much like mint tea, many tout the benefits of sage tea and swear that helps calm and soothe anxiety.

Tarragon

Russian Tarragon Easy to Grow from Seeds

Russian Tarragon Easy to Grow from Seeds

Russian tarragon is an herb used in soups and as a garnish, and can be grown in an herb garden. Hardy and easy to grow from seeds, it has a mild and aniseed flavor.

©2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Tarragon is often used in chicken dishes, veggie dishes and egg dishes. It's chock-full of vitamins C and A, as well as magnesium, calcium, zinc and iron. It has an anise-inspired flavor, and its leaves resemble blades of grass. This is another herb that you'll want to use in both its fresh and dried forms.

Thyme

Silver Posie Thyme is Compact Low Growing Herb

Silver Posie Thyme is Compact Low Growing Herb

Silver Posie thyme has foliage that remains evergreen even in winter making it a good edging plant for any garden border. Outstanding herb both for cooking as well as an ornamental in the garden.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Thyme is said to help keep away colds, coughs and sore throats. Thyme is an herb that pairs well with a variety of different herbs and vegetables, including parsley, garlic, ginger and scallions. It has a woody, earthy smell and is packed with vitamin A, which is supposed to help skin, hair and nail health.

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