Freedom from store-bought herbs. You Can Grow That!

Gain freedom from store-bought herbs. Plant your own. Herbs are generally easy to grow, many are perennial in northern regions, and the flavor of fresh picked or home-grown and preserved herbs is so full and intense you may never need to purchase store-bought again. Basil, rosemary, chives, mints, savory, thyme, sage and/or marjoram … You Can Grow That!

ycgt_blog_post_graphic On the 4th of each month, C.L. Fornari at Whole Life Gardening urges garden bloggers to champion the virtues of gardening. Many garden bloggers do just that in their You Can Grow That! posts. All of this month’s, as well as previous posts, can be found at the You Can Grow That! website. Go there to dig into the brains of gardeners with a passion for encouraging others to green up their thumbs.

We often think formal when imagining how to incorporate the vast array of of herbs into our planting schemes, but there’s no need a formal herb garden to enjoy the beauty and culinary uses of herbs.

Sage and chives blend beautifully into perennial beds, while thyme and marjoram are great border and edging plants, or trailing plants in a container combination.


Interplant shorter, long-season blooming annuals, such as ageratum, with bush basil for an interesting border, and plant large-leaf basil in pots or as companions to potted or in-ground tomatoes.


Give mint room … lots of room, it can be a thug when left on its own … or contain it into an established area or pot.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA border of herbs can dress up a planting of other edibles.

This photo is my border, starting from the foreground, of thyme in bloom, blue-green ornamental curly chives, savory, more curly chives, another smaller savory, two young santolina transplants surrounded with various sedum, lavender, and more thyme.

This border combination sets off the edges of the lawn and larger beds planted with common and garlic chives, horseradish, and garlic.

Since the herbs bloom at different times throughout the growing season – chives in spring, thyme and lavender in early summer, curly chives and savory later in summer, and chives, lavender, and thyme intermittently in late summer – they help dress up the more utilitarian neighboring beds.

But … even better … these herbs can be used to flavor summer dishes and be preserved for winter use.

Potted ginger mint, rosemary, and lemon basil are easily snipped and added to summer dishes and beverages. Pair lemon basil with fresh tomatoes, rosemary with grilled chicken and fish, and sprigs of ginger mint with iced tea or mojitos


Minced chive leaves freeze well in small tightly-packed containers while chive blossoms turn plain white vinegar into a tasty, pink-tinged, chive vinegar for dressings. Or, mix minced chives with softened butter, place on waxed paper, and roll into a long,  1” diameter form – like a skinny baguette. Freeze and cut off slices as needed for garnishing warmed breads or baked potatoes.


Thyme, rosemary, savory and marjoram dry well when cut at peak and placed in brown paper bags left in a dry location for a month or two. Once dry, they can replace less-flavorful store-bought herbs for winter meals.


Sage can be cut, tied in bunches, and hung on a hook to dry,


but basils are best preserved as pesto or blended with olive oil into a green slurry and frozen as cubes for winter use in soups and sauces.

You Can Grow That! home-grown herbs can expand your garden design choices and enhance your culinary exploration. After nearly 40 years of growing herbs in my Connecticut gardens, I’m still discovering new ways to grow, use, and store them … and I rarely have to resort to using store-bought.

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6 comments for “Freedom from store-bought herbs. You Can Grow That!

  1. July 4, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    I love your enthusiasm related to growing you own herbs and going natural. The pictures and links are very helpful.

  2. July 4, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    I try to grow herbs as close to the back door as possible, in kitchen garden fashion. When I’m cooking and the recipe calls for thyme and oregano (as tonight’s pizza recipe did), I just run outside with scissors and snip what i need. Since oregano and chives both self-sow like crazy in my garden, I’m going to try to cut a lot of the oregano before it blooms and dry it for winter use.

    • July 9, 2013 at 2:31 pm

      Jean, herbs are so easy to grow in so many places. Having them at the back door makes it so easy to snip for fresh use. I often make short trips out to snip herbs in the midst of preparing dinner.

  3. July 7, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Love the idea of using herbs as a border. I love herbs for aesthetics and also to just run my hands through them when gardening. Lemon balm and mint are two of my favourites. I need to get better at preserving them for the winter though.

    • July 9, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      Marguerite, it’s always a pleasure to catch a sniff of a bumped or rubbed mint or lemon balm. Sometimes I rub a mint cutting along my arms to repel mosquitos.

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