Nicole Hackett, Garden Girl

Planting herbs in your garden makes cooking more fun

Planting herbs in your garden makes cooking more fun
Easy to grow, herbs just need sunshine and monthly fertilizer.

Garden Girl Nicole HackettCONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA — Herb gardening is both beautiful and rewarding.

Plant lovers delight in how easy it is to grow the herbs that they use for cooking. It is great to be able to walk outside and snip some leaves from the sage or a sprig of rosemary to incorporate into favorite dishes.

Herbs are also attractive garden installations that can be grown in beds, borders or containers. Many have interesting foliage and some have pretty flowers.

The idea to grow your own herbs has surged over the past years. Yesterday’s herb gardens were planted with basil, parsley and rosemary. Although those old favorites still rule the herb bed, today’s herb growers are expanding to include various flavored mints, oregano, thyme, fancy leafed and flavored sages, lemon balm and tarragon.

Herb gardens need to be in a mostly sun location. Plants need to be installed using a rich soil conditioner. Once established, most herbs are very water wise and require little to thrive. Basil, cilantro and parsley plants are the exception. They will need more water and can take less sun. Fertilize herbs monthly with an organic fertilizer.

What to plant?

Flavored mints are all the rage. Mojito, apple and strawberry are some of the most popular. Mint can get out of hand in a garden bed, so install your chosen mint in a container for control.

Oregano is a large family of herbs containing members planted just for cooking and others that are so pretty they can be planted just to admire. Greek and Italian oregano are two fabulous choices for those that desire fresh oregano for cooking.

Kent Beauty is a variety that one may plant just for looks, although you can cook with it if you wish. Kent Beauty has a pinkish-purple flower that weeps over the sides of containers and hanging baskets. Try to remember this oregano’s name. Once it is blooming in your landscape, you will be asked over and over: “What is that plant?”

Many flavors

Thyme is another huge selection of herbs. You can find lemon, lime and orange flavored thymes, as well as coconut and oregano. All thymes are edible, but some do not have a flavorful essence that successfully passes onto your dishes.

Sage is such a large family that columns can be written on this group alone. Cooking sage has that a deep, hardy fragrance and should remind you of sausage. Common sage is a great evergreen shrub in the landscape. It has large gray leaves and blue flowers in summer.

If you are craving a different look in the landscape or container, look for the variegated sage. This selection has a leaf with a combination of green and yellow. Pineapple sage is a joy to grow. It does not have a traditional flavor, however, and is used more for baking, and flavored waters and teas. Pineapple sage is also very hummingbird friendly.


Nicole Hackett
Nicole Hackett

Nicole is the Garden Girl at R&M Pool, Patio, Gifts and Garden. You can contact her with ­questions or comments by email at