Herb Gardening: My Favorite Herbs and Uses for Them

Written by contributor Krissa Jeldy of More Than Mundane

My dreams of having a full-on garden may not be a realistic option this year, but having a small herb garden is always a possibility. Choosing a few of your favorite and most used herbs to plant each year is something you can do no matter how limited your space.

I use pots on my back porch for a small herb garden, but you can also create an indoor herb garden if you don’t have any outdoor space at all. I love being able to walk out the back door and have a variety of fresh herbs available for my use, rather than having to buy those small bunches at the store for $2.00 or more every time I want some fresh herbs!

Choosing Your Herbs

Think about which herbs you most regularly use in your cooking or in other creations and plant those. These are the ones I’m planting this year:

Calendula (Pot Marigold)

Photo by Robert Verzo

Not only will calendula add some color and beauty to your garden, but you can also use it in many personal care products, such as this calendula salve, perfect for treating skin irritations, rashes, chapped lips and more. Calendula is mild and perfect for sensitive skin, so it works well for babies and kids also.


Lavender is another great one for making your own personal care products. Use the dried flowers to make a Simple Lavender Salve, or use them in a Lavender Sugar Scrub. You can also use lavender in your baking. Try one of these recipes for your next tea party:


Basil is a must have for me. There’s nothing better than making fresh pesto with basil from your own garden. Basil does best in warm, sunny climates and should not be planted until the weather is warm. You can start seedlings indoors and move them outside once the weather is warm.


Oregano also does best in full sun. Fresh oregano pairs well with tomatoes in recipes, and is often found in Italian dishes and other Mediterranean dishes like this Greek-Style Chicken Skillet Dinner. You can also use fresh oregano to make your own Oil of Oregano.


Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs. I use it in my cooking, or even to jazz up a drink, like in this Honey Rosemary Lemonade. Try one of these recipes using rosemary. Rosemary is also an herb that is great in personal care products as well, such as in this Rosemary and Lavender Softening Hair Rinse.


Cilantro is most commonly found in Mexican dishes and there’s nothing better than fresh cilantro in your homemade salsa. You can also use it to top tacos, enchiladas, or chicken tortilla soup. Or make some Cilantro-Lime Butter to top freshly grilled corn on the cob.


There are all types of varieties of mint. Mint is best planted in it’s own container because it has a tendency to take over. Fresh mint is great in iced tea, lemonade, and all kinds of refreshing summer beverages. We even like to add fresh mint to our coffee grounds when we’re brewing a pot of coffee to give our coffee a delicious minty flavor. This year I planted chocolate mint, spearmint, and my peppermint from last year is still going strong.

Additional Uses for Herbs

  • To replace dried herbs with fresh herbs in cooking, use double to triple the amount. So if a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon dried oregano, use 2-3 teaspoons fresh oregano.
  • No matter which herbs you plant, you can use them to make an herbal infused oil, either for topical use or for use in cooking. Fresh herbs are also great when making your own salad dressings.
  • I also love to make herb-infused honey. You can infuse any herb you like in honey, but I especially love lavender.
  • And any time you have an abundance of fresh herbs, compound butters are quick, easy, and wonderful to have on hand to spice up your cooking.


Picking, Drying, & Freezing: How to Preserve Summer’s Herbs @ Simple Bites

Start Crafting Your Perfect Crunchy Herb Garden-Now! @ Crunchy Betty

Do you plant herbs in your garden? What are your favorites?

About Krissa

Krissa Jeldy is a busy mom of two who, since starting a family, has become passionate about learning all she can about living a simpler, more natural lifestyle. She enjoys discovering new home remedies to try, greener products to make and use, and real food recipes to nourish her family. She juggles her time between her job as an educational specialist, homeschooling her kindergartener, and chasing after her toddler. When she's not busy grading papers she blogs at More Than Mundane .


  1. I have a brown-ish thumb, but I’ve still managed to grow potted herbs every summer for years. I love always having fresh herbs at the ready (and my kids love to run out to the porch with the scissors to snip some for dinner!)

    My favorite is lemon thyme. I picked up a plant on a whim at the farmer’s market a few years ago, and we’ve planted it every year since. It’s wonderful on grilled summer vegetables, just with a little salt and olive oil. Mmmmmm, good!

    • I actually have lemon thyme too…it’s stuck around through several seasons. I will have to try it on grilled summer vegetables. That sounds delicious!

  2. Thank you for the reminder to plant an herb garden. Fresh herbs make cooking so much more tasty and it is such a cost savings to grow your own.

  3. This is a great summary of must-have herbs for the herb garden. I would also recommend chives as well, especially if you are container gardening. They are very easy to maintain and come back on their own every year! I recently wrote a post with 15 different recipe ideas for chives:


    Can’t wait to plant the rest of the herbs you mentioned above soon!


    • Thanks for the chives ideas Meaghan! I had chives on my list but ran out of room…maybe I’ll have to make some a space for them after all!

  4. Calendula will also help to deter some insects as well.

  5. Where in the world do you get chocolate mint to grow? I would love to try that.

  6. I am in central Canada so I don’t have the option to grow herbs outside all year and inside I would have cats snacking on them all the time. Can I start herbs from seed in the garden for the short growing season we will have here? I hate to spend the money on seedlings every year.

    • I’m no expert but live in Alberta and find that buying a small plant, rather than starting with seeds, is the way to go! And I don’t recommend pots since they can’t overwinter. A garden works best to save $.

    • Hi Leanne! Sorry it took me awhile to find an answer for you…I checked with my horticulturist friend, and here’s what she had to say: “Yes it’s possible to start seedlings in the ground every year but 1) given a short growing season and 2) given the likelyhood of seedlings surviving planted directly into the soil as compared to that of a starter plant that is somewhat established I’d recommend not doing seeds for most herbs. If you want to do seeds, I would start them indoors, let them establish a bit, thin them and then transplant to ground. You can cover the seedlings before the cats attack them.” Hope that helps!

  7. I can’t wait to make homemade pesto from homegrown basil!

  8. I’ve just been bumping up my herb garden as well. I planted some beautiful basil with my tomato plants in the front. And I just transplanted some marjoram, oregano and thyme. I love the way the herbs smell and it’s a real treat to go out into the garden and pick herbs for dinner. Nice post.

  9. We’re growing basil, dill and sage in our window boxes. It’s the first year we’ve actually dared to “garden” inside (we live in in NYC so personal green space is limited). And, so far so good!

  10. basil is my favorite herb to grow and has done great in both containers on a porch and in a garden bed.

    my recent post: a little bit of real life (and my 37.5 week maternity pics!)

  11. So glad I read this… I just realized that I forgot to put cilantro on my “to grow” list for this year! That cilantro-lime butter sounds amazing.

  12. I love lavender and mint and we must have plenty of chives since my girls continually nibble at them (and invite their friends to do the same). Will be planting calendula for this first time this spring. Basil is good and surprisingly works well in iced tea (made a mistake once):)

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