Herbs are easy to grow, and there is room for a few in everyone’s garden. If you don’t have a suitable garden plot, they will grow happily in containers. Most herbs originated in the Mediterranean countries and grow best in full sun.
In the Garden
Chives grow to a height of 4 to 24 inches, with mauve, pink, or purple flowers that bloom on the tips of the leaves in early summer. The leaves are long, green, and tubular.
Sow seeds directly in the garden in spring when the air temperature is at least 65[degrees]F. They can also be started earlier indoors. Chives grow best when they are planted at least 6 inches from other plants in fertile, moist soil in a mostly sunny location. Water well throughout spring and summer. Harvest the leaves throughout the growing season. Harvest the flowers when they are fully open but before the color fades and cut chives back after flowering to encourage new leaf growth.
Chives are perennial, hardy to Zone 3. Every few years, lift the small bulbs, separate them into clumps of 6 to 10, and replant. In the fall, pot a clump and bring it indoors for forcing and using fresh during the cold months.
Chives are used mainly for flavoring and garnishing when a mild onion flavor is desired. Add chives at the end of cooking to maintain the best flavor. Snip fresh leaves as a garnish or for flavor in egg dishes, salads, potatoes, sauces, and soups. Mash them into soft cheeses or add to sour cream. Sprinkle flowers onto salads.
In the Garden
Dill grows to a height of 24 to 36 inches, usually with only one hollow stem and with tiny yellow-green flowers in flattened umbel (upside-down umbrella shape) clusters that bloom in mid- to late summer, giving way to aromatic seeds. Its green foliage is fine, feathery, and aromatic.
Sow seeds in early or mid spring or start indoors and transplant outdoors after all danger of frost has passed. Set plants 9 inches apart in fertile, well-drained soil in full sun. To have a fresh supply of leaves throughout the season, plant successive crops every 3 to 4 weeks. Provide support, if necessary.
Dill is an annual or biennial, hardy in all zones. Once established, dill does not like to be transplanted; if stressed, it will bolt and skip its leaf-producing stage, becoming leggy. Harvest fresh leaves any time that they are mature. Keep cutting leaves regularly to promote new growth. Dry the seeds for later use in cooking. If you compost, remove seed heads before adding dill to your pile. Otherwise, it may sprout there and live up to its other name, dill-weed.
Dill is a cooling and aromatic herb. BH Its leaves are used to flavor egg dishes, fish and seafood, rice, potatoes, soups, and lamb stews. Springs are added to pickles and vinegars. It does not dominate the flavor of food BH but instead enhances it. The seeds are reminiscent of caraway and are used as a condiment, flavoring, and pickling spice.
In the Garden
Summer savory grows to a height of 4 to 15 inches, with small white, lilac, or purple long-lasting flowers in early summer. Its leaves are small, narrow, pointed, and dark green.
It can be grown from seeds, preferably started indoors. Do not cover the seeds, because they need light to germinate. Harden off seedlings before planting them outdoors, where they will thrive in poor but well-drained soil in full sun. Plant them 6 inches apart in a warm spot, sheltered from wind.
Summer savory is a perennial hardy to Zone 5. Grow it as an annual in colder regions. Pick fresh leaves often to prevent the plant from becoming leggy and do not allow it to flower if you want to maintain its flavor.
Summer savory is a good seasoning for peas, cabbage, stuffing, and meats, and it is a common ingredient in salami. The flavor is hot and peppery; its pungency takes getting used to, so use it sparingly in salads. Use it in place of salt and pepper; it blends well with and enhances other flavors. Infuse leaves in vinegars or oils for a hint of pungency. Summer savory is also known as the bean herb and is often added to bean dishes to improve their digestibility and prevent flatulence.
In the Garden
Common, or garden, thyme grows to a height of 12 to 18 inches, with white or pale purple flowers in early summer. Its green leaves are small and narrow.
Start thyme seeds indoors in early spring. Maintain a bottom heat of at least 60[degrees]F and water sparingly. In late spring or early summer, transplant new seedlings outdoors about 9 inches apart in poor but well-drained soil in full sun.
Thyme, an evergreen perennial hardy to Zone 4, needs protection from cold winds and wet winters. Take young plants indoors for their first winter and plant them outdoors again in the following spring.
Its leaves and sprigs can be used fresh all year or dried. Trim the plants back after flowering to keep them from becoming woody and sprawling and to promote new growth.
Thyme has a strong but pleasantly clove like flavor. Use the leaves sparingly in soups, marinades, vegetables, stews, sauces, and stuffings and infused in oils or vinegar. It retains its flavor best in foods that are cooked slowly. Thyme is the main ingredient of bouquets garnish.