My 12 Favourite Culinary Herbs

posted in: Gardening, Herbs | 1

At last I am getting back to my blog.  I’ve been busy getting outside and getting started in my spring garden.  I love going around and checking what plants are re-emerging from the soil after our unusually cold winter.  Most things seem to have survived, my lemongrass I’m waiting on, it was in an unheated greenhouse, and out of 5 pots, so far I can see one small green shoot.  I thought my first blog for 2017 should be about the herbs which I use most commonly.

Some are perennial and live in my herb garden just outside my front door, or in beds down in the vegetable garden, others I start each year.  The flavours and aromas imparted by these plants, make cooking even more fun, and just going for a walk around the garden an opportunity to touch and smell.

Planting and harvesting times refer to south western British Columbia.

So here they are in no particular order:



Rosemary – I have a few lovely big bushes in my herb garden.  This is probably my favourite herb.  I just love the scent and flavour.

When to plant: Can transplant in the spring

When to harvest: Pretty much all year long

Uses: I love using rosemary on roast chicken or turkey, lamb and in breads or other savoury baked goods.



Parsley – I have quite a few parsley plants which live over the winter here.  I’ve already been picking and using some.

When to plant: April through August

When to harvest: Spring, summer and fall

Uses:  I use parsley in all kinds of things – soups, stews, egg dishes, salads, pasta dishes, roasts.



Oregano – I have a large spread of oregano down in the vegetable garden.

When to plant:  Start indoors Feb/March, outdoors May-June

When to harvest: Spring, summer and fall

Uses:  I use oregano in tomato based pasta sauce, on poultry, pizza, as well as in greek style dishes such as lemon roast potatoes, greek salad and lamb.




Basil – I need to get it started now.

When to plant:  Start indoors April/May, transplant end of May  (I tend to transplant and keep it in pots in a unheated greenhouse)

When to harvest:  Summer

Uses:  I love using basil in pesto, on top of pizza, egg dishes, and pasta dishes.
Bay tree
Bay tree

Bay – I have a small Bay tree in my front herb garden.

When to plant: I bought a small bay plant and planted it in the spring.  After 5 or 6 years it is about 3 feet tall.

When to harvest:  Pick leaves year round

Uses:  Soups and Stews



Garlic: I have two beds of garlic looking very happy, still mulched with straw.  I’ll have to getting to that this weekend.

When to plant: October before first hard frost

When to harvest: Garlic scapes – early summer, garlic bulbs –  Late summer

Uses:  Almost every savoury dish



Sage – I have a large bush in my front herb garden, it probably could do with pruning back.

When to plant: Start indoors February-April, transplant April/May, direct sow May/June

When to harvest: Spring/Summer

Uses:  I use sage on poultry, in soups and stews, and in turkey stuffing.


Lemon Balm
Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm – I have a lot of patches of lemon balm (it spreads really easily), but one in my front herb garden that is handy for picking.

When to plant: Can start indoors in February, but easy to direct sow in April/May

When to harvest: Spring and Summer before flowering

Uses:  Cool summer drinks, tea. salads, fruit dishes, and baking.

Thyme – While I really like thyme, my plants don’t seem to do too well over the winter. Maybe I need to move them to a sunnier location.

When to plant: Start indoors February – April, transplant April/May, direct sow May/June

When to harvest: Summer

Uses: Roasts, soups, stews





Mint – I have quite a few varieties in pots in my front herb garden, this is another one I love to walk by and pinch a leaf off and smell.

When to plant: Start indoors February/March, outdoors April/May

When to harvest:  Spring/Summer

Uses:  Cool summer drinks, lamb, mint sauce, vinegar, syrup, and peas.



Chives: I have about half a bed down in my vegetable garden with chives, green onions, and some leeks.

When to plant: Start indoors February/March, outdoors April/May

When to harvest: Spring to fall

Uses:  Egg dishes, salads, breads/muffins, stir frys, mixed in with butter or cream cheese.



Cilantro/Coriander – I plant this every year and never seem to have enough.  It often self seeds and that gives me a bit of a head start for the next year.

When to plant:  April through August

When to harvest: Throughout the growing season.

Uses:  I use cilantro leaves in salsa, curries and soups.  The seeds I don’t use as much, but I have used them in sauces, and in some vegetable recipes.






I hope you will give a few of these herbs room in your garden this year and experiment with using in them in all kinds of recipes, both for your health and your enjoyment.

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One Response

  1. Michelle Hall

    Thanks Jill. Especially loved your photos and how you prefer to use your favourite herbs.

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