easy herbs to grow

The 8 Best Easy Herbs to Grow That You’ll Use All the Time

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Whether you’re new to edible gardening or if you’re looking to expand what you’re growing, herbs are a fabulous way to extend your edible garden options.  Growing herbs to use in your cooking can be exceptionally way and very rewarding for very little effort.   In this, our guide to easy herbs to grow in the UK we’ve opted for herbs that are not only easy to grow but that are easy to use as well.  We find we use these herbs on a regular basis and so that makes it well worth our while growing them.

All of these herbs can be grown outside in the UK (at the right time of year).  They can be grown in the ground or in pots.  However, for some (mint especially) we recommend growing them in pots, it just makes it much for flexible.  We grow these herbs both inside and outside and the best thing – is that these are the easiest herbs to grow and they take little attention to flourish.

The Easiest Herbs to Grow in the UK

When it comes to growing herbs in the UK our biggest challenge might just be the weather, depending, of course on where you live in the UK.  But it’s also about growing the right type of herb for your palate and health- there are some surprising and great benefits to using herbs in your diet.   I make no secret that at Lets Grow Cook we love Indian food and we are big lovers of Coriander, which just so happens to be one of the hardest herbs to grow – but more on that shortly.  So we wanted to cover the easiest herbs to grow in the UK – and throw out a few ideas as to what to use them with.

Herbs in the UK divide into 3 types.

  • Annual Herbs: Basil, Coriander and Dill are great examples
  • Biennials Herbs – Parsley is the best example here
  • Perennial Herbs: Chives, Mint, Sage and Thyme are the most used herbs.

It goes without saying if you’ve read our guide to perennial vegetables (check it out here), that planting something once and harvesting from it multiple times over multiple seasons is our preferred option – and so we recommend growing perennial herbs as one of the easiest ways to grow herbs!  You can find our guide to growing perennial herbs here too. cccc.  However, that doesn’t mean that annual herbs and biennial herbs are difficult to grow.  Far from it.  So this article is a bit of a mix – some perennial herbs, some biennials and some annual herbs, because if they’re easy to grow and seeds for growing herbs aren’t expensive, then why stop at perennials?

How to Grow Herbs in the UK

You can grow herbs from seed, from cuttings or buy a small herb plant.  Obviously, the easiest way to grow herbs is to buy a plant.  This is what I tend to do if I just want some regular mint.  Buy a small potted herb plant and then nurture it, take cuttings and make sure I keep them all in pots so that I can move them around easily and ensure that they don’t take over the garden.  We’re written here about how to put together your own herb garden kit if you want to get started quickly easily and cheaply.

However it’s not always easy to get cuttings or small plants, so I always have a stock of seeds for growing herbs that I can dip in.  There are always basil and coriander seeds in my stash.  Coriander is my nemesis and I’m determined to make my coriander growing more successful and I think I’ve got it this year (read how we’re growing coriander in pots here).  I’ve shared under details of each herb our favourite seeds for each herb.

The Best Easy Herbs to Grow

When you’re considering what herbs to grow in your kitchen garden or which herbs to grow in your in your window sill you shouldn’t just consider the easiest herbs to grow.  You want to make sure that the easy herbs that you grow are also ones that you use in some way!  So our list of the easy herbs to grow looks at what herbs are used most commonly in the British Kitchen and which herbs you’ll use regularly.  After all, if you grow your own herbs you’ll save a fortune when shopping.  Growing your own herbs is one of the ways in which your garden can save you money on a regular basis.

So let’s start with the perennial herbs that make our list of easy herbs to grow.

Mint is the easiest herb in the world to grow

I may be oversimplifying a little there, but everywhere I’ve been mint grows voraciously and that can be the major problem with mint.  Mint tends to just take over gardens, which is why we recommend growing mint in pots.  Mint will generally take over ANY space that it can.  This voracity makes it a very simple herb to grow and it’s just so useful in the kitchen.  Minty fresh new potatoes?  Mint, courgette and feta quiche or frittata?  Minty lamb chops?  Mint ice-cream?  Oh, the list is endless.  We used it most recently in this gorgeous Tabbouleh Salad Recipe.

mint is an easy herb to grow

There are a number of different varieties of mint, all of them differing slightly in their taste and characteristics.  However, the most common grown mints are peppermint and spearmint.  Common mint in the UK is spearmint and it’s seriously hardy and grows just about anywhere.  Mint is a perennial, which means it’s going to come back year after year.  Just be sure it’s in the right place, otherwise, it will take over completely!

Mint needs moist compost or soil.  It likes plenty of sunshine and can survive frost.

Grow Perennial Herb Thyme Easily

You’ve probably used Thyme as a herb way more than you think.  It is a key ingredient in bouquet garni and “herbs de Provence” and you’ll find it in many classic French dishes.  What’s great about growing Thyme is that it’s fast-growing and you can even plant it outdoors in winter (woo hoo!)  Thyme is evergreen, which means that your garden or windowsill is going to look great year-round and once you’ve started to grow it, I promise you that you’ll find so many recipes that you’ll use it in and there will be no need to keep buying those dried herbs de Provence again!

Thyme grows best in pots or containers that will let you keep it relatively dry – it HATES being waterlogged.  Keep any woody stems well pruned and if you keep the tips of your Thyme plants clipped then you’ll get a lovely bushy and vigorous plant.

Easy Grow Perennial Oregano

Oregano is present in many Mediterranean dishes for good reason.  You’ll find it present in lots of Greek and Italian dishes because it grows really well in warm, dry climates – which is going to make you wonder why I’m recommending it for the UK!  If Oregano is grown outside it grows as a perennial and comes back each spring (yay).  But the reason that Oregano is easy to grow is that it likes well-drained soil, likes to dry out between watering and doesn’t need much if any fertilizer.  PLUS, it benefits from regular harvesting.  Bonus!  SO grow your Thyme in a pot, have a place where it’s not going to get massively rained on and your Oregano is a perennial and is going to flavour all those lovely Mediterranean dishes!

Oregano doesn’t need much water at all and will grow as a companion to most other plants.  It grows faster the more you prune and use it.  So what are you waiting for?

Easily grow perennial herb Rosemary

Rosemary grows well outdoors, but it also a great herb to grow on windowsills.   You’ll want to keep the leaves trimmed as if it’s in the sun your rosemary stems can grow up to 1.2 metres.

Rosemary is very fragrant and can often act as a natural air freshener.  You’ll want to ensure it has well-drained compost or soil and this herb is very drought resistant, you will need to make sure that it doesn’t get waterlogged in winter as it will likely die.  Rosemary is great at being pest resistant as well.

Rosemary is best started in the Spring in the UK from an existing plant.

Rosemary is a great component of bouquet garni and works really well in stews and with chicken and lamb.

Grow Chives in your herb garden

The chive is a member of the onion and garlic family, the “alums”.   – And they go seriously well with sour cream, but they’re also fabulous with eggs, potatoes, soup and fish too.  Add to that the fact that they’re easy to grow and we’re sold on the idea.

easy grow chives

Chives don’t have the strong taste of onion or garlic and their flavour addition to dishes is much more subtle.  You can use them in potato salad and omelettes really easily.  Chives are easy to grow, they’re a hardy perennial and you can even pick their flowers and use them in salads.  You can also use the bulb of the plant too!  Chives are a great herb to grow in pots or to grow in the borders in your garden. Chives can grow up to 30 centimetres high and diameter, so you’ll want to put them in a pot that’s big enough to manage that.   You can harvest chives when the stems are 15 centimetres tall, you’ll want to leave about 5 centimetres above the soil’

Chives need very little maintenance and care.  Plant them, either in the ground or in a pot, put them in a sunny spot and off you go!

Now that we’ve covered the perennial herbs that are really easy to grow we’ll move onto biennial herbs – and for this, we’re sticking with Parsley.

Parsley is a really easy herb to grow

In years gone by (as in those years that I can remember, not ancient history) Parsley used to be that limp green sprig that was put on top of a dish in a restaurant as a garnish.  You’d take it off and not eat it.  And that’s kind of sad, because this classic Italian herb may, when its curly leaf parsley be used for decoration, and it contains less flavour, but the Italian or flat-leaf parsley has a much more robust flavour.

Parsley is one of the most popular herbs in cooking in the UK.  It’s hardy and as such easy to grow and it’s very versatile.  There are two types of parsley.

parsley easy herb to grow

Curley Parsley has decorative curled leaves, its usually used as a garnish and has very little taste and the Italian flat-leafed Parsley which has a lot more taste to it. Both are grown in the same way. Parsley will thrive in partial shade or full sunlight (which is preferred).  Flat-leaf parsley tends to grow better with the UK combination of rain and some sunshine.

And now two of my absolute favourite herbs as annuals – Basil and Dill

Basil is an amazingly easy herb to grow

Basil grows really well inside, so it’s a fabulous windowsill herb to grow.  Basil also grows well outside if you plant it outside in late spring and its love hot summertime conditions.  You’ll want to bring it inside as the temperatures start to cool in autumn and winter.  That’s why for us, growing basil in pots is a seriously easy way to grow this fabulous herb.  One of the things we love about growing basil is that it pairs so well with one of our other favourites to grow in the garden – tomatoes.  Basil might be an easy herb to grow, but it also likes a decent amount of water, but you should be wary of mildew – so keeping your basil near an open window is a great tip, to keep the airflow going.  We’ve also found that basil response best to watering on a morning.  The roots just don’t seem to like getting their water at night!

Read our full guide to Growing Basil here!

Basil can only be grown outdoors in the UK in the summer and you MUST move it inside in the winter.  However, I have to say, it’s a full-time resident on my kitchen windowsill, where it gets a lot of warmth and light.  The more warmth and light the better as this will help your basil live and thrive for longer.

The most common type of Basil to grow in the UK is called Sweet Basil or Genovese Basil– that’s what you’ll find I the supermarkets.  The other common types to grow are Thai Basil, Lemon Basil and Holy Basil.  This year we’re growing Sweet Basil and Thai Basil.

basil easy herb to grow

Grow Popular Dill and Help Your Pickling

Dill doesn’t last long but it’s hardy and you can dry the leaves too.  Dill goes amazingly well with smoked salmon and potatoes.  Dill is grown a lot by gardeners who do a lot of pickling and is excellent for growing in pots.   Dill is often known as a cool season herb – so think spring and autumn, or it will also grow well in cool parts of the house.

Dill grows well in moist soil or compost where it can plenty of warmth, so pots are ideal, as is partial shade – it means that it slows the seeds setting, which can stop cropping.

Final Words on Easy Herbs to Grow in the UK

Homegrown herbs add a huge amount to edible gardening.  The herbs that we’ve selected here are easy to grow and not only that they’re particularly useful in many recipes that are staples of the British diet.  There is rarely a day goes by that we don’t use them.  The great thing about growing your own herbs too is that the more you grow the more you will use.  So get started now and find the herbs that suit you to grow at home, easily!

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