Six Culinary Herbs to Grow in Pots

The beauty of a simple herb garden is the ease of care involved in maintaining it and the immense flavour it lends to your kitchen. If you are new to gardening, remember to start small so that you aren't overwhelmed when everything is ready to be harvested.  
Historically kitchen gardens were functional spaces used to supply the home with herbs to flavour culinary dishes. Often located near the kitchen door for easy access, it is my favourite place to situate them. 
Kitchen gardens from long ago would have contained a simple array of herbs, including indigenous plants from the region and those passed along from neighbour to neighbour. 
Today, the variety of herbs available to the gardener is limited only by one's imagination. Find seeds at Seedy Saturday events across Canada, look for dates at Canadian Seeds of Diversity
Once your herb garden begins to produce, you will have a bounty to enjoy throughout the growing season. Gather up fresh snippets for salads, soups, and grilling on the barbeque.
Blend herbal vinegars in summer to enjoy all winter. I save small, unique bottles for these and keep a champagne vinegar on hand from our local Mediterranean Market to quickly blend vinegars when I have an abundance of herbs on hand. When blending vinegars remember not to use a metal closure as it will corrode from the acid. You can blend dried herbs with sea salt, so the flavours infuse the salt and they make a lovely homemade gift. 
DIY herbal vinegars and salts in small bottles
Chamomile: I grow the perennial Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) in my large garden. I prefer to grow German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) in a pot as it will self seed if you forget about it for awhile. On my doorstep I am able to cut the chamomile blooms as they open and dry them continually to enjoy in tea. I think of chamomile and pears as a match made in heaven and love to explore delicious preserve recipes that incorporate this duo. 
Spearmint: this is a mint that is quite happy planted in a pot. Spearmint is delicious in a pitcher of cool water on a hot day, or dried and brewed into a mint tea. The leaves add a fresh profile to dishes and they are divine with a watermelon salad. For a fresh take on watermelon salad, try Jennifer Schell's Watermelon Skewers
Lemon Verbena: This herb allows Canadians to enjoy citrus flavour from their own garden - a delicious tea, there are myriad ways to incorporate it into your cooking, check out the blog from Chocolate & Zucchini for lots of inspiration! It is a small, tender perennial shrub, that is long lived in a large pot in northern climes - I have several that are over 10 years old! Once the nights go just below freezing, I bring my lemon verbenas into my basement for the winter and water them every 2-3 weeks, just enough to prevent them from drying out. All of the leaves will drop off in about January/February and new ones will sprout in April/May. When the risk of frost has passed, my pots come back out for another season. 
Thyme: I am constantly snipping a little thyme to add to marinades, dressings and savory dishes. There are so many to choose from, but I prefer Thymus vulgaris for longevity and I like English thyme to spill over the edge of a pot. Wrap thyme and rosemary inside a sage leaf, tie with kitchen twine and dry to enjoy later in soups and stews. 
Sage: Sage is a stunning garden specimen and one of my favourites to tie up in herb bundles to give as hostess gifts during the winter season. At our farm, we blend a Poultry Seasoning that is versatile and practical for the kitchen!
Rosemary: In my zone 5 Canadian climate, I need to bring rosemary into the garage during the winter (on our farm, we grow it inside our greenhouses to protect it from winter's chill). I consistently have greater success growing upright rosemary in pots, the trailing ones have a tendency to languish and die out over time. If you like to make skewers with your rosemary, choose the cultivars Barbeque Sky or Arp - they have stiff straight stems that are strong enough to use as skewers. I separate the leaves from the stems and dry both to use later. The stems make excellent skewers for chicken or lamb. 
chart on how to use herbs in recipes

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