In some parts of the country at least, the soil is warming up, and it's getting to be time to plant outdoor herb gardens! Whether you plant one in a container or in the ground, here are the herbs you'll want to grow — because they're the ones you'll actually use.
Basil — Great cooked or fresh, even prolific amounts of basil can get used. Make caprese salads, toss it in pasta dishes and sauces, and whip up some fresh-from-the-garden pesto that you can use now or freeze for later. Basil likes light, but too much direct sun can scorch the leaves. Pinching it back (automatic if you use it often) promotes growth.
Rosemary — This hardy plant is good-looking and versatile. Use it in sauces, roasts, cocktails, and more, and watch it survive even through cold weather.
Thyme — I especially love thyme in potatoes (mashed or roasted) and in a lemon butter rub on roast chicken. This small-leafed herb packs a lot of flavor and is called for in many common recipes, and some lesson common ones, like the lemon-thyme bruschetta above.
Oregano — A kitchen staple, oregano from your herb garden will definitely get used in sauces, roasts, dressings, and more.
Chives — Chives are nice in eggs, breakfast casseroles, in mashed potatoes with sour cream, and more. I'm intrigued by these radishes with cream cheese and chives. Chives' pom-pom-like purple flowers give your herb garden a nice touch of interest as well.
Parsley — Throw it in sauces and salads, like the tabbouleh above. Parsley may well be one of the most ubiquitous herbs. It's a little more delicate than some of the others, but worth it to grow, for sure.
Cilantro — Cilantro is a cooler weather herb, so some zones may not be able to grow it in the thick of summer. But fresh cilantro from the garden is so fragrant and flavorful, you'll wish you could grow it all year round! Check out the Miso-Maple Sweet Potato Tacos pictured above.
Mint — Mint is an aggressive spreader, so be sure to contain it in its own pot. Use it in Mediterranean food, as a garnish for lemonade or iced tea, even in your coffee! As anyone fortunate enough to be familiar with Philz will tell you, it really nuances that morning (or anytime) pick-me-up.
(Image credits: Christian Jung/Shutterstock; Kathryn Hill; Liz Vidyarthi; Rebekah Peppler; GTS/Shutterstock; Elizabeth Passarella; Dana Velden; Chris Perez; See Mommy Doing)