Typically, herbs are planted six to eight weeks before the first frost so it’s important for them to be planted before the weather becomes cold. Pay close attention to drainage and moisture requirements of certain herbs because many are very sensitive to soil moisture conditions. To avoid frost heaving, make sure there is proper water drainage for the type of soil you are planting.
If you are a first time herb gardener, start by growing more common herbs such as basil, chive, dill, oregano, parsley, sage and thyme. These herbs can be grouped in "classic" herb gardens, and can be incorporated into flower beds or vegetable gardens. Sage, rosemary and thyme require a well-drained, slightly moist soil, whereas parsley, chervil and mint grow best on soils which retain moisture. Raised beds may provide the necessary moisture and drainage requirements for herbs that require good soil drainage.
The following are some common culinary herbs to consider planting now.
Basil, French basil or sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) is a popular, tender, annual herb. Basil is native to India and Asia and is grown for its aromatic leaves, which are used fresh or dried as a flavoring.
Chives, Allium schoenoprasum, are perennials native to the Orient. Chives are often used in salads, soups and cheeses.
Dill, Anethum graveolens, is native to the Mediterranean area and southern Russia. Dill is commonly used as a seasoning for soups, fish, and pickles.
French tarragon, Artemisia dracunculus, originates from southern Europe (Russian tarragon, Artemisia dracunculoides, is much coarser, has paler leaves, and a more bitter taste). Many vegetables such as onions, cauliflower, cabbage and brussel sprouts go well with the nuances of tarragon.
Oregano, Origanum vulgare, is native to the Mediterranean region of Europe and central Asia. It is naturalized in the eastern United States. Oregano goes well with many chicken dishes.
Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis is native to the Mediterranean region, Portugal and northeastern Spain. Rosemary is a classic flavor used in poultry and pork, but it is also a delightful addition to biscuits and dumplings.
Thyme, Thymus vulgaris, is native to the western Mediterranean region. It is a small, many-branched perennial shrub. Thyme’s scent and flavor are a complex combination of sweet and savory. If your dish is missing something, try adding a dash of thyme. It’s perfect to round off the richness of a creamy or buttery dish, to serve with grains, rice and pasta, or as a compliment to any type of meat, poultry, eggs or fish.