Not quite a green thumb? Herbs are an easy way to ease into gardening and deliver fresh flavor in dishes, drinks and even lotions all summer long.
Lavender, basil and rosemary
“Lavender is so easy. It loves sunshine and can tolerate drier soil, making it ideal for gardening in Utah. It’s great for cooking—I’ll mix it and camomile flower to make tea, and lavender scones are delicious. It can also be used in soap or lotions and creates a bit of an exfoliant.”—Carly Gillespie, Community Educator at Wasatch Community Gardens
“I absolutely have to grow basil. I do several varieties, including purple lettuce leaf basil, which is colorful and great for decoration. But all types of basil work great for cooking. It needs four to six hours of sun a day, and augmenting your soil with organic material and fertilizer makes a 100 percent increase in the plant’s quality.” —Tanya Chatterton, owner of Traces Organic Garden
“It’s one of my favorites. Arp rosemary is a great variety and is a little more hearty. It likes lots of sun, is beautiful, grows well and doesn’t need a lot of care. I love its fragrance and adding it when cooking roast chicken with lemon, olive oil and roasted potatoes.” —Jo Hartmann, nursery specialist at Cactus & Tropicals
Ask the Expert
Red Butte Garden horticulturist
Call him the garden guru. For six years, Red Butte’s Fritz Kollmann has designed and researched regional horticulture. He’s also a pro at getting the most from herbs and has shared his top tips for making those fragrant plants grow.
Almost all herbs like to be grown in full sun and will do best if they have less than a half day of shade.
Water your plants every couple days, or if it’s really hot or they’re in a container, water every day.
Use your herbs regularly. It keeps the plants smaller, and once plants like basil start flowering, they won’t continue to produce enough leaves.
Get a pair of sharp scissors to harvest herbs. It makes clean cuts and prevents tearing the stem.
Plants in the ground do better, but if you’re using pots make sure they’re big enough to accommodate growth of the plants.
If you’re growing a lot of herbs, dry them so they’ll last longer. Hang them in a dark, somewhat cool place or lay them out on a newspaper to dry.
Each year, plant a new herb you’ve never tried, like Mexican tarragon, bread seed poppies or Bolivian coriander, which is great in salsas.
You’ve got the herbs, now get to work with these colorful accessories.
Mini colander, $9, Hip & Humble, SLC
Hand tools, $14 each, Ward & Child—The Garden Store, SLC
Le Creuset, mortar and pestle, $27, Orson Gygi, SLC