Easy herbs to grow for (and in) your kitchen

Sadye Matula

I grew up in a 1970s ranch-style house on an acre of land in front of a corn (soybean, on alternating years) field. Our neighbor, the field’s owner, allowed my father, the son of a farmer and a horticulture teacher, to plant and grow his own garden in a small […]

I grew up in a 1970s ranch-style house on an acre of land in front of a corn (soybean, on alternating years) field. Our neighbor, the field’s owner, allowed my father, the son of a farmer and a horticulture teacher, to plant and grow his own garden in a small patch of that field every year. And my three brothers and I – no matter if we wanted to or not – were his helpers. I confess that I do not necessarily have fond memories of shelling peas or picking beans but I never minded taking care of and harvesting the herbs.

Today I live in a 5th-floor walkup apartment in Harlem, New York City and I still grow my own herbs – though now in pots in my kitchen instead of on the edge of a 30-acre soybean field. Most herbs are quite easy to nurture, as long as you have a source of light for them – be that a window that receives a lot of sun or a grow light such as the Sunblaster Micro Grow Light Garden:

SunBlaster Micro Grow Light Garden




Perennial herbs – those that live longer than a year – like rosemary, chives, thyme, and mint tend to be easier to grow when started from small plants. Basil and mint also root quite easily when their cuttings are kept in a glass of water.

With some patience though, you can start your entire herb garden from seeds. There are numerous herb garden starter kits available, most of which come with soil pellets, pots, and instructions for watering each herb.

Some great starter kits for growing herbs at home:

Indoor Herb Garden Starter Kit – 5 Herb Seeds




9 Herb Window Garden – Indoor Herb Growing Kit

Planters’ Choice




Bonnie Plants Sweet Basil (Genovese) Live Herb Plants




An integral herb for all kinds of cuisines, basil adds flavor to pasta, soups, salads, sauces, and pizza. To harvest, simply pinch off individual leaves and add to whatever your taste buds desire.

Lovers of heat and bright sunlight, basil grows best in windows that face south or west though, ironically, mine does just fine in my upper northeast-facing window (which may have something to do with the southern light that reflects off the building wall across from, and into my kitchen window).

Basil plants won’t live forever so to insure yourself a steady supply, plant new seeds every month or so.


Bonnie Plants Rosemary Live Edible Aromatic Herb Plant – 4 Pack




Rosemary plants have needle-shaped leaves that are delicious with chicken, pork, lamb, soups, and dressings (among other things). To use, snip off one to four-inch sprigs and add to sauces or strip off the leaves and mince. In general, rosemary prefers cooler temperatures with strong light.

They’re sometimes difficult to start from seed and aren’t speedy growers, but rosemary plants can live anywhere from 15 to 30 years. Rosemary is an especially hardy herb but avoid overwatering by allowing the soil to dry out completely in between waterings. Use sandy, well-draining soil for best results.


Sow Right Seeds – Flat Leaf Parsley Seed for Planting

Sow Right Seeds



So much more than just a garnish, pinch parsley stems off near their base and add to salads and sauces – and tabbouleh.

Parsley is a biennial plant, meaning it only grows back for two seasons. At the end of their second year, you can harvest the root as well as the stems. Shave the root to create an especially flavorful topping on your salad.

It’s easy to grow from seed, though parsley may take a longer time to germinate than some other herbs. A little trick I learned from my dad is to soak the seeds in water overnight before planting. Parsley isn’t a very picky herb; they prefer moist soil but are also quite drought-tolerant, and they’re okay with full sun and part sun. They’re sort of the Gen X of herbs; the latch key kids just taking care of themselves; self-sufficient and often overlooked (as a Gen X-er I am allowed to make that comparison).


Sow Right Seeds – Thyme Seed for Planting

Sow Right Seeds



Thyme, a perennial plant, sports tiny leaves and trailing stems, making it an attractive houseplant as well as a tasty one. It’s a fragrant herb that comes in over fifty varieties, each with different fragrances and flavors, some of the most popular being English, French, and lemon thyme.

As a Mediterranean plant, thyme is drought friendly and doesn’t like moist soil. Cut off the top few inches of each stem right before the plant flowers. You can add thyme to your dishes with or without its stem though if a recipe specifically calls for a sprig, it means to leave the stem on.


Sow Right Seeds – Mint Garden Seed Collection

Sow Right Seeds



One of the aptest descriptions I’ve ever read about mint is that it “grows rambunctiously.” They’re also extremely hardy perennials that can survive temperatures as cold as the 30s. If left to grow outside unchecked, mint plants have been known to take over as much ground as they can. Essentially, mint is the plant that will take over your life – and your garden or windowsill – if you let it.

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