Basil & Mint in a basket | Easy-to-grow herbs

Growing herbs is a simple way to improve homestead sustainability for both beginner and seasoned growers. This is because most herbs are simple to grow, harvest, and preserve. They are also multi-purpose plants with culinary, aromatic, and medicinal benefits. If you are looking for a low-maintenance garden addition, consider one of these easy-to-grow herbs. 

3 Easy Herbs to Grow on Your Homestead

Most herbs have both culinary and medicinal uses. When choosing what herbs to add to your homestead, consider all of the uses and pick the ones that you can utilize to the fullest potential. 

These herbs are easy to grow, easy to harvest, and easy to preserve so they are ideal for new gardeners. 

1. Basil

Basil is a prolific herb that is easy to grow. In my opinion, this is the best herb for beginner gardeners to start out with.

Before you purchase basil seeds or starts, decide on what variety will work best for you. There are many different types of basil that provide different flavor profiles. Think about what you want to make out of your basil harvest to help guide your decision. 

For example, If you want to make pesto or dried basil for pasta sauces, then Sweet & Genovese basils are good options. Lemon basil is great when cooked with fish and chicken. Holy basil is often used in curries. 

A sample of basil varieties include:

  • Sweet Basil
  • Genovese Basil
  • Thai Basil
  • Holy Basil
  • Lemon Basil
  • Greek Basil

How to Grow Basil

Start basil seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date. 

Basil starts can be planted outdoors about 12” apart when the temperature is consistently over 50 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and night.

Make sure that the soil stays warm, consistently watered, and well-drained for optimal growth. 

Basil | Easy-to-grow herbs

Companion Planting with Basil

Basil makes an ideal companion plant for tomatoes so consider planting them together to improve the productivity and flavor of both plants. 

Basil can also be planted with asparagus, peppers, and oregano to help deter pests and improve the flavor of the companion plants. 

How to Harvest Basil

When your basil plants begin to fill up with mature leaves, you can start harvesting. It is best to pick basil leaves in the morning. 

Pinch off the stem just above a leaf node to harvest leaves and promote new growth. 

How to Preserve Basil

There are several different options for preserving basil:

  • Dehydrate basil in a dehydrator or by air-drying
  • Freeze basil in oil or water (or by itself)
  • Infuse basil leaves in oil, honey, or vinegar
  • Make fresh basil into a pesto
  • Store basil leaves in layers of salt

Basil Benefits

Basil is rich in antioxidants. It also serves as an antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, mood enhancer, headache aid, and immune system & digestive support.

How to Use Basil

The uses for basil vary depending on the variety that you grow. 

  • Sweet & Genovese basil varieties are commonly used to top pizza, make pesto, and flavor pasta sauces. 
  • Thai basil is delicious in stir-fries, soups, curries, and spring rolls. 
  • Holy basil is used in curries and stir-fries, but it is most often used to make a healthy hot tea.
  • Lemon basil can be used in pesto or to flavor chicken, fish, and pasta dishes.
  • Greek basil can be used in the same way as Sweet & Genovese varieties.

2. Mint

Mint is a prolific easy-growing perennial herb that can provide a bountiful harvest to even the most novice gardener. 

There are several varieties of mint, each with its own unique flavor profile. Research each option to choose the one that fits your needs the best. 

Common varieties of mint include:

  • Peppermint
  • Spearmint
  • Chocolate Mint
  • Apple Mint
  • Pineapple Mint

How to Grow Mint

Start mint seeds 8-10 weeks before the last frost date. Transfer the plants outdoors about 18”-24″ apart after the last frost when the soil temperature is between 50-70 degrees F consistently. 

Mint can be grown directly in the ground, but since it is invasive it is best grown in containers. This herb likes a lot of sunlight and well-drained soil. 

Mint | Easy-to-grow herbs

Companion Planting with Mint

Mint deters cabbage moths, aphids, ants, flea beetles, and squash bugs. Plant mint with cabbage, kale, and other greens that are commonly damaged by cabbage moths. Do not plant mint with chamomile. 

How to Harvest Mint

As your mint plants begin to fill out, you can begin to harvest the leaves. Picking in the morning is best as that is when the oil concentrations are highest. 

Pinch off the stem just above a leaf node to harvest mint leaves and promote new growth. Be sure to pinch off the tops before the flower head blooms or the leaf growth will slow or stop.

How to Preserve Mint

There are several different options for preserving mint:

Mint Benefits

Mint has antiseptic & antispasmodic properties. It also aids in digestion, pain relief, fever reduction, and headache relief.

How to Use Mint

This easy-to-grow herb can be incorporated into many different dishes. Here are a few examples: 

  • Add mint to teas and lemonades
  • Add a minty flavor to sauces (like Tzatziki)
  • Toss raw mint leaves in salads
  • Use mint in marinades for lamb chops
  • Add mint to chocolate desserts
  • Muddle mint into summer cocktails like mojitos

3. Oregano

Oregano is a staple herb with a robust flavor that is easy to grow. There are many varieties of oregano. Research each option to choose the one that fits your needs the best. 

Common varieties of Oregano include:

  • Greek Oregano
  • Common Oregano
  • Italian Oregano
  • Syrian Oregano
  • Golden Oregano

How to Grow Oregano

Oregano can be started indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date. Transfer them outdoors with about 8-10” between each plant once the threat of frost has passed. Oregano needs full sun so plant in a location that receives 6-8 hours of sunlight each day. 

Oregano | Easy-to-grow herbs

Companion Planting with Oregano

Oregano is known to repel aphids and other pests so it’s a good idea to place it near plants that are susceptible to insect damage, but this easy-growing herb is a good companion for all garden vegetables.

How to Harvest Oregano

You can start harvesting oregano when the stems reach at least 4” in length. If you want to harvest the stem and the leaves together simply clip just above a leaf node about ⅔ of the way down the stem. If you only want the leaves, you can slide your fingers down the stem to pull the leaves off. 

How to Preserve Oregano

There are several different options for preserving oregano:

  • Dry oregano in a dehydrator or by hang-drying
  • Make frozen oregano cubes by freezing leave in water, broth, or oil 
  • Freeze leaves in a single layer and then store in an airtight container
  • Infuse oil, vinegar, or honey with oregano leaves

Oregano Benefits

Oregano is known to possess antibacterial, detoxifying, antibiotic, and expectorant properties as well as relieving aching muscles, toothaches, bug bites, colic, and some respiratory issues.

How to Use Oregano

Oregano is a strong herb that adds a zesty Mediterranean flavor to many dishes. Some examples include:

  • Add oregano in tomato-based pasta sauce.
  • Create meat marinades with oregano, olive oil, and other spices.
  • Sprinkle fresh oregano leaves on top of a salad.
  • Toss vegetables with oregano and olive oil before roasting.
  • Place oregano leaves on homemade pizza.

Homestead Herbs

Keep reading to find out more about growing and using herbs on the homestead!

3 Easy Herbs to Add to the Homestead Garden | Grow, Harvest, Preserve