Cultivating an edible garden on-site is one of the most rewarding landscaping improvements you can undertake. By including herbs, vegetables and fruit in your landscape design, a culinary garden will elevate food offerings while creating an exceptional dining experience for diners.

These easy-to-grow plants add an aromatic twist to beverages and dishes alike, making them great additions to traditional garden beds or containers.

1. Basil

No matter your culinary skill level, including herbs grown at home will add depth and variety to your meals. A sprinkle of aromatic basil in a caprese salad or simmered with aromatic vinegars offers satisfying tastes in homegrown cuisine.

Sweet basil is the go-to herb for pesto, pizza and crusty bruschetta dishes, but there are many others you should explore as well. Genovese basil produces large leaves ideal for making pesto; lemon basil adds its distinctive licorice-flavored sweetness when cooking; purple basil varieties add color both in the garden and when steeped with vinegar-infused vinegar dishes.

2. Rosemary

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), an annual perennial native to the Mediterranean region, thrives under warm and sunny conditions and can be used to add flavor to soups, stews, meat dishes and bread products.

Scents such as cinnamon have long been recognized for easing headaches and increasing mental alertness, as well as offering antiseptic and antioxidant properties.

Rosemary can be planted from seeds or cuttings in spring or fall in well-draining soil rich in organic matter, with regular watering and occasional feeding with an all-purpose, balanced fertilizer. When its foliage becomes overgrown, prune it back to maintain shape and encourage new growth.

3. Thyme

Thyme lends a delectable Mediterranean flair to slow-simmered soups, stews, and roasted vegetables. Its fragrant leaves pair beautifully with other herbs for creating bouquets garni or herb blends; its tiny flowers – pink, purple or white depending on variety – add interest in flower gardens or as ground covers.

Thyme is an adaptable perennial that makes an excellent groundcover in sunny spots or around rose bushes or other shrubs. Additionally, its companionship makes it a valuable asset when growing brassicas, tomatoes and strawberries – plant various varieties for an array of colors and flowering times!

4. Mint

Mint can be used both culinary and medicinally to soothe digestive distress or act as a mild decongestant, as well as attract pollinators in the garden and repel pests. Add mint sauce to buttered peas or new potatoes, or steep up some relaxing mint tea.

As with basil, mint thrives best in full sun to partial shade with well-draining soil and is heat and drought tolerant, resisting mint worms as well as other common herb issues.

Be sure to plant mint in containers or use barriers (like bottomless plastic vegetable cans or garden edging) in order to contain its underground spread. Fertilize with Scotts(r) Osmocote(r) Controlled Release Tomato, Vegetable & Herb in spring for optimal results.

5. Parsley

Curly and flat leaf varieties of parsley add an exciting freshness to herb beds and vegetable plots, as well as being beautiful additions for flower borders and containers.

Sow parsley seeds directly in your garden in spring or early winter on a sunny windowsill. Once established, parsley thrives in soil with good drainage and will tolerate light frosts without suffering too much damage.

Fertilize regularly with liquid plant food to preserve color and flavor in parsley plants. Since parsley can be susceptible to disease, make sure they have plenty of airflow through their space by spacing plants apart for airflow, rotating crops every year and rotating crop rotation schedules.

6. Oregano

Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is an evergreen perennial herb prized by Mediterranean chefs. Its warm, pungent taste complements tomato-based dishes perfectly, and makes an important contribution to pizza-based dishes.

Search your local nursery or farmers market for healthy cuttings measuring 4-6 inches in length. Acclimatize them slowly over seven to 10 days prior to transplanting into their final homes.

Keep an eye out for aphids and western flower thrips, which can distort leaves by stippling or distorting them. Encourage natural predators or use insecticidal soap or neem oil if necessary; oregano thrives both in gardens as well as containers filled with high quality soil.

7. Chives

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are an easy perennial herb from the onion family that are both leaves and flowers edible, featuring mauve florets that resemble mini tulips to add decorative flourishes to egg dishes, soups and salads.

Chive blossoms can add mild onion flavors to sauces, mashed potatoes and salad dressings, as well as being preserved in vinegar bottles or used to garnish floral arrangements.

Plant chives in spring or fall using well-draining soil. They can thrive both full sun and partial shade environments.

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