Herbs are aromatic plants used for their medicinal properties and culinary uses. While many herbs can be used in their dried form, the fresh leaves usually have more flavor. Growing herbs in the backyard is an effective way to guarantee a supply of fresh herb leaves and is much cheaper than buying fresh herbs from a store. The best herbs to grow in the backyard are those that are easy to cultivate and have many culinary uses.
Basil - Basil is an easy-to-grow annual herb best used fresh rather than dried or frozen. It is one of the best herbs to grow in the backyard because of its vigour and high yield. Grow basil from seed germinated indoors in the spring. Plant the seeds in all-purpose potting compost half an inch below the surface. Place the pot in a warm location, keep the compost damp and wait up to three weeks for germination. Pinch out the growing tips of seedlings once they are 6 inches tall to encourage bushy growth. Plant potted basil seedlings outdoors in a sunny location in frost-free conditions. If the appear, remove any flower buds to prolong the life of the plants and prevent the leaves from turning bitter. Harvest leaves throughout the summer.
Mint - Mint is a rampant herb that can become invasive in a backyard garden unless you confine it in pots or containers. It is easy to grow from seed or by planting out root cuttings taken from an established mint patch. Mint loses it flavor if stored, so it is best to grow your own and use fresh. Mint thrives in fertile soil and grows well in light shade. Harvest leaves throughout the summer and fall; well-established plants will survive throughout the winter and re-grow from the roots the next spring.