I’ve done the following several times when I give gardening lectures about herbs. I ask participants how many planted herbs the previous year. Plenty of hands go up. Then I ask how many actually used them. Most drop straight down. The sad truth is that few gardeners actually use the herbs they plant. And there’s a reason for that.
Traditionally, culinary herbs are planted in the vegetable garden, but since a vegetable garden is usually considered strictly utilitarian and without any real attraction, it is often located far from the kitchen, in the furthermost recess of the yard. It may even be several blocks away in the case of a community garden.
However, it’s one thing to go looking for 5 or 6 carrots to prepare lunch or a cauliflower for the evening meal: it’s worth taking a few steps to get an ingredient that is essential to the success of the meal. It’s quite another when you all you need are a few basil leaves or sprigs of thyme. Are you really going to go all the way to the vegetable garden located far from the kitchen, especially under a blazing sun or when it’s pouring rain? Notably with the dried equivalent of the fresh herb is so tantalizingly close, sitting right there in your kitchen spice rack?
That’s why, it you really want to use the herbs you grow, it’s best to keep them close at hand, as near as possible to the kitchen, even if it means not growing them with your vegetables.
The ideal location? You can’t beat a flower box full of herbs set just outside the kitchen window. So even if it rains, you just have to open the window, reach out your hand, snip off a sprig or a leaf or two, then close the window. Not only can you do this when it’s pouring rain, you will do it! Alternatives include pots of herbs or a small herb bed just outside the back door or on the balcony. Or somewhere equally easy to reach.
Keep your vegetables close, but your herbs closer!