Lemon grass herb, photo by Jane Gates

Lemon grass seedlings

You might be surprised how simple and convenient it is to grow your own kitchen herb garden. If you check out the cost of buying fresh herbs -- if you can find the ones you want -- and combine that with the increased quality of fresh picked herbs, then throw in how decorative most herbs are, it really makes sense to grow your own.

Herbs are easy to grow in any sized garden – even on a patio, balcony or a sunny windowsill in a container garden. Most herbs prefer a less rich soil than most other edibles. Rich soils encourage a lot of lush leaf growth and that would mean more water in the leaves and less essential oil. The oil is what adds flavor and scent to leaves and stems. There are some herbs that like shade but the majority love bright sun. Herbs will reward you with color and interesting forms, fascinating scents and all sorts of practical applications. Most need very little care.

Growing an herb garden in a location reasonably convenient to the kitchen will allow you to have fresh parsley, cilantro, sage, rosemary, chives, lemon grass, basil, thyme and other wonderful flavors ready to add to your favorite recipes. It's often hard to find the fresh herbs you want to use when cooking and even if you can buy them, they tend to be expensive. Drying herbs in a dry climate is extraordinarily easy -- just hang them or lay them out in a shady spot with good air circulation. Otherwise you can use a dry basement, attic or buy a dehydrator. So don't worry about producing a little extra in your garden.

After being picked most fruits, vegetables and herbs start to loose their high vitamin content. Since so much of our food supply is shipped, stored and displayed for long periods of time in markets, much nutritional value is already lost before we even eat, cook or dry/preserve it. Pre-prepared foods have even less in nutritional benefits. Growing your own edibles is the best way to know you won't be getting sick from the disease outbreaks affecting so many mass grown edibles these days while getting the freshest and most vitamin-filled produce possible. You can always find dried herbs to buy, but if you want the most nutrition and the most delicate flavors, grow your own!

By the way, you will need larger quantities of fresh herbs as compared to the dried counterparts when cooking. Since most herbs are prolific growers, this should not present a problem.

Herbs seem to be minimally affected by pests in the garden. But there still can be some minor damage. The good news is that you rarely need to resort to any poisons. I've never even had to use insecticidal soaps on my herbs. I guess all that strong herbal oil scares away the pests. That also means that herb gardens are low maintenance when compared to most other parts of the garden.

Some herbs that are easy to grow for kitchen use are basil, parsley, cilantro, sorrel, majorum,lemon grass, chives, fennel, sage, lavender, rosemary, and thyme.

Or consider some of the more exotic herbs litle Shisho (Perilla), Chantro-caribe, Cumin or Epazote.

There are so many herbs you can grow for your own kitchen herb garden that you will have plenty of choices no matter where you live and no matter where you want to grow your herb garden.