Grow these 7 French herbs in your herb garden to add new flavor dimensions to your cooking.
French cuisine is world-renowned for creating complex flavors using simple techniques and ingredients. And the use of herbs and spices plays a big part in creating this tapestry of flavors.
Starting your own herb garden does not take a lot of effort, and the flavors made available to you will lift your cooking to new heights.
Here are the top 7 French herbs you need for your herb garden.
If you want to learn what herbs grow well together, click here.
French tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) is a woody perennial with narrow needle-like aromatic leaves. The herb is used dried, crushed, or finely chopped in a wide range of dishes, salads, or sauces.
French tarragon is often used to infuse vinegar and oils and is very popular to use with egg-based dishes.
A hardy perennial, French tarragon can overwinter from zone 4 when covered and growing in light, well-draining soil.
- Type: Perennial
- Height: 3 ft
- Soil: Well draining, light, rather lean than too fertile.
- Plant: Plant seedlings or your plants outdoors in early spring.
- Harvest: Harvest sprigs as needed.
- Store: Dry, freeze or infuse in vinegar or oil.
- Propagate: Propagate from cuttings or plant division.
- Other: The seeds you buy are Russian or Mexican tarragon.
If you want to learn when to plant herbs and where, click here.
Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) is a delicate herb with a wild parsley-like flavor. Best used fresh, chervil can also be added at the very last stage of cooking.
Chervil goes well with eggs and adds interest to all dressings and cold sauces.
- Type: Annual
- Height: 12 – 24 inches
- Soil: Not fussy.
- Plant: Sow chervil seeds from early spring and then in 1-3 week intervals.
- Harvest: Cut the entire plant using sharp scissors, ideally before flower buds start forming.
- Store: Freeze or dry.
- Propagate: From seed.
- Other: Also known as French parsley.
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Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is a classic culinary herb used for garnish, flavor, and texture.
Flat-leafed Italian parsley (Petroselinum crispum neapolitanum) is known for its more robust flavor, whereas curly parsley, with its fresh and plump appearance, is better suited as a decorative garnish on soups, dressings, and salads.
Parsley is a biennial but is most often grown as an annual as the harvest in year two is meager. As the plant completes its cycle of life, most of its energy is spent on flowering and producing seeds leaving the leaves with a bitter taste.
- Type: Biennial
- Height: 12 – 16 inches
- Soil: Well-draining soil rich in organic matter.
- Plant: Sow seeds in early spring. Seeds are slow to germinate.
- Harvest: Harvest continuously. Harvest older mature leaves first.
- Store: Freeze whole or finely chopped. Freeze stalk separately.
- Propagate: From seed.
- Other: Leave plants in the ground after summer for early spring harvest next year.
Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) produce edible leaves and flowers and are arguably among the hardest-working herbs in the garden.
Equal parts of finely chopped chives, parsley, and chervil create a popular version of fine herbs used by chefs to season and flavor dishes.
Chives will deter pests and harmful bugs, while flowers help attract pollinators and beneficial insects.
- Type: Hardy perennial (zone 3-10).
- Height: 9 inches
- Soil: Well draining, compost-rich, fertile.
- Plant: Sow seeds in early spring. Seeds are slow to germinate. Plant division any time during the growing season.
- Harvest: Harvest continuously for new fresh growth. Remove flower buds unless growing for flowers.
- Store: Freeze whole leaves or chopped.
- Propagate Seeds or plant divisions.
- Other: Divide plants in early fall and grow indoors in a pot or container.
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Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) looks like dill but has a sweet aniseed taste.
The dried seeds are used to flavor bread and soup. The delicate green leaves are chopped and used with pork, veal, and fish or simply to give salads a fresh taste.
Fennel is a perennial but is often grown as an annual.
- Type: perennial (zone 5-9)
- Height: 4 – 7 ft
- Soil: Well-draining, rich in organic matter.
- Plant: Sow seeds in groups of 5 in mid-Spring, space groups 15 inches apart.
- Harvest: Harvest leaves continuously as needed. Seeds are harvested by hanging cut branches to dry after flowers are wilted.
- Store: Freeze leaves. Seeds are stored dark in airtight containers.
- Propagate: By seed.
- Other: Florence fennel or bulbing fennel (var azoricum) is grown for its bulbous stems, leaves, and root base and is harvested and used as a vegetable.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a woody bushlike and drought-tolerant evergreen that requires well-draining soil.
Use sprigs of rosemary to stuff lamb, pork, or veal. The pine needle-like rosemary leaves are best finely chopped unless whole sprigs are used. Save the rosemary stems to use as skewers for your kebabs.
Rosemary is grown as a perennial in zones 8-10 but is easy to overwinter in pots in cooler climates (zones 4-7).
- Type: Bush
- Height: 6 – 7 ft
- Soil: Lighter soil that drains well.
- Plant: Start seeds indoors in early Spring.
- Harvest: Harvest continuously.
- Store: Dry or freeze whole sprigs.
- Propagate Seeds or stem cuttings.
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is a low-growing bush-like herb with small flowers and aromatic leaves.
Thyme also works well with other mild herbs like marjoram and chervil.
- Type: Perennial, but not very winter hardy.
- Height: 6 – 12 inches
- Soil: Well draining soil.
- Plant: Sow seeds in early spring.
- Harvest: Harvest leaves or sprigs continuously through the growing season.
- Store: Dry.
- Propagate: Seeds or by plant division of over wintered plants.
7 French Herbs For Your Herb Garden Summary
Whether you have an established herb garden or are looking to start fresh this season, these 7 herbs will have you covered for all types of cooking throughout the year.
And you do not need a lot of space. You will find that even the smallest plant has the power to elevate your cooking to new levels.
I wish you success!
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