The Cook’s Herb Garden

Posted by on Apr 24, 2016 in Bookshare, Frugal For Everyone, Gardening, Herbs | 28 comments

The Cook's Herb Garden

The Cook’s Herb Garden is another DK book that I’m delighted to share with you. Now is the perfect time to prepare the summer’s herb garden and this book is filled with step-by-step pictorial instructions for choosing, growing, harvesting, storing and using herbs.

Herbs are probably the easiest plants to grow since they really don’t like a lot of fussing. Most grow best in a 50-50 well-draining mix of sand and soil, require regular watering and an occasional feed of liquid fertilizer in summer. That’s it, couldn’t be easier.

Images below from: The Cook’s Herb Garden – copyright 2016 Dorling Kindersley Inc – used with permission and with thanks. 

The Cook's Herb Garden

Front row, from left to right – Cilantro, Silver Queen Thyme, Flat-Leaf Parsley. Back row, from left to right – Sage, Purple Basil, Oregano

The Cook’s Herb Garden – Everyday Essentials:

While basic growing, harvesting and cooking instructions are attached to each herb listed in the comprehensive herb catalogue, everyone of those topics is described in greater detail further on in the book. 

One of the things I really like about the section on using herbs is the recipe section. There are some super recipes that I haven’t heard of before but can’t wait to try: Cream of Herb Soup; Watercress Butter; Chimichurri (Argentinian Meat Sauce); Black Currant Cordial; Mixed Herb Pesto, shown below; plus many more.

Suggestions for using the Everyday Essential Herbs shown in planter:

Cilantro: Use fresh, chopped leaves in salads, with coconut, citrus, avocado, fish and meat. The dried seeds are spicy, sweet and mildly orange-flavored – use them in Indian and Asian dishes.

Thyme: Add to any savory dish or use to flavor poultry, pork, and fish dishes; add to stuffings and vegetables.

Flat-Leaf Parsley: Both the stems and leaves can be added to a multitude of savory dishes; from omelets to stews to baked fish.

Sage: Chop very fine and use in small amounts. Add toward the end of cooking to risotto and pork, veal and venison dishes; pick a stem for bouquet garni; use dried leaves for stuffing, poultry, fish, potatoes and carrots; use flowers to make summer teas.

Purple Basil: Basil is best known for use with tomatoes. Basil’s flavor intensifies when cooked. For a more subtle taste use it raw or add it at the end of cooking. For more ways to use basil check out Basil does it all

Oregano: Oregano’s pungent, spicy flavor gives a unique lift to Mediterranean ingredients and dishes – pizza, pasta, fish, meat beans, tomatoes, eggplant and zucchini.


The Mixed Herb Pesto recipe, from The Cook’s Herb Garden, uses basil, oregano, flat-leaf parsley, and garlic – all herbs that you can easily grow yourself. Toss the pesto with pasta, stir it into rice or use as salad dressing (whisk 1Tbsp. balsamic vinegar or lemon juice into 3-4 Tbsp. pesto.)

Serves 2 Prep 15 MINS Cook 20 MINS

The Cook's Herb Garden

  • 3 Tbsp. coarsely chopped basil
  • 2 tsp. coarsely chopped oregano
  • 3 Tbsp. coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Coarse sea salt
  • 1 ¾ oz (50g) Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3-3 ½ oz (90-100ml) fruity olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper

10 oz (300g) dried pasta

1 Tbsp. heavy cream (optional)

  1. Put the herbs in a large mortar, reserving 1 Tbsp. to finish. Smash the garlic with the flat of a knife, peel and add to the mortar. Sprinkle in a little salt. Pound down onto the mixture until it is mushy.
  2. Add the Parmesan a little at a time and beat vigorously to blend. Slowly beat in the olive oil until you have a thick coarse paste, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain, reserving 2 Tbsp. of the cooking water. Stir the water into the pesto to loosen it slightly. Return the pasta to the hot pan and pour in the pesto. Toss to coat thoroughly. Stir in the reserved fresh herbs. If using the cream, stir it in and serve immediately.


I find Theme Gardens fun to put together and The Cook’s Herb Garden includes designs for the following Gourmet Theme Gardens that you can grow anywhere – window-box, wall-garden, deck or patio, or wherever else your imagination takes you:

  • Salad Herbs
  • Mediterranean Pots
  • Middle Eastern Herbs
  • Hardy Herbs
  • Herbal Teas 

Browsing through the book I kept thinking “I’m going to try that” or “what a great idea”. Even if you aren’t the least bit creative or knowledgeable about herbs, the pictures will guide you in designing a unique herb garden that is truly to your taste, in more ways than one.

Talk to you again next week,


If you enjoyed this post – others will too. Please share.



  1. I can’t recall ever having had sage tea before – I trust it is more flavorful/interesting than chamomile tea is, yes?

    • Hi Andy, I agree with you that chamomile tea is pretty blah by itself. I usually add it to another herb – actually sage would go well with it. You’d liven up the chamomile and tone down the sage.

  2. I love my little herb garden that I grow every year, but I gave up on cilantro. It grows too fast and I can’t keep up with it. I need to plant some rosemary and basil indoors so I can fresh year round.

    • Hi Jeri – isn’t it great how adaptable herbs are – grow indoors, outdoors, as microgreens, etc. I usually try for at least parsley, chives and basil indoors over winter but rosemary does well too.

  3. My grand-kids love the herbs I grow in pots on our deck–pretty and tasty too. Mint and chives are their favourites for picking and munching. They also enjoy the bees attracted to the oregano or rosemary flowers. I really need to get some parsley! Aren’t herb gardens lovely?!

    • Ramona, honey-nut cheerios has a campaign going on urging everyone to help plant 35million wildflowers to help bring back the bees. I was therefore thrilled reading comment about the bees and oregano/rosemary flowers. I love herb gardening – keeps me centered.

  4. It looks pretty easy to grow herbs. I may try that whenever I move someplace that has more space. The recipe sounds nice too.

    • Jason, if you’re into cooking, you could easily grow your favourite herbs in a sunny window. There is no comparison between fresh and store-bought.

  5. What great post about herbs.
    The book reminds me when I was younger, and got my mom a copy of Crockett’s victory garden. The herb book reminds me of that.
    I am glad more and more people garden and grow their own food, even herbs.
    Thanks for sharing this with us.

    • William, you lucky man having a copy of Crockett’s victory garden. I love those old time books – course I love any good cook-book with practical advice. The only way most of us can afford to eat organic is to grow our own and I’m glad to see that more and more people are realizing that. I guess that’s why my focus has been on small-space gardening, to provide suggestions for people with little space.

  6. Lenie — two herbs I adore are basil and oregano, with cilantro close behind. I live in an apartment and don’t have a garden. But, for many years, I went to the farmer’s market and bought fresh basil. I’d make my own pesto sauce and then freeze portions in small plastic bags to use all winter. I could do that again — maybe you’ve given me inspiration!

    • Jeannette, isn’t is neat you can grow those herbs in a basket? All three of your favourite herbs are so easy to grow – you’ll be able to have pesto all winter again. Go for it, it’s a lot of fun.

  7. Missed you last week! I don’t have much space so seeing that container garden with multiple herbs really caught my eye! That would work perfectly for me so I am definitely going to take a closer look. Thanks Lenie!

    • Hi Marquita – I missed me last week too. That was surely one of the times I needed your ‘how to reduce stress’ posts 🙂 The nice thing about those container gardens is that you can move them around to find the best growing spot. I know that’s always a challenge to you. Best of luck.

  8. Love fresh herbs and the recipe for pesto sounds delicious. Have to try it.

    • Hi Catarina – that recipe is different, isn’t it. I’ve never used oregano in pesto before but great idea. Kind of makes you want to try even more combinations.

  9. Lenie – I typed a long message and lost it. I usually copy and paste in case I lose signal on my mobile ?.

    It is that time of year when green fingered folks like yourself are out planting herbs and flowers. The end result is always wonderful but a lot of work. We have started planting and it makes such a difference to the overall difference to our garden.

    • Hi Phoenica, don’t you hate when your comment disappears? It is that time of year – I can hardly wait to get back out in the garden – there is always a lot of prep work to do but while we’ve had some good weather days, we’re not quite ready yet. The normal Spring planting time here is the May 24 weekend – that is also the weekend when you get the best deals on plants and other garden supplies. So right now we’re still planning and dreaming.

  10. Perfect timing on this post Lenie. I’m hoping to grow a bigger garden of herbs this year than I have in the past and this looks to be a good resource.

    • Ken, this book is an excellent resource – it has a lot of information about the individual herbs and detailed descriptions for planting, soil requirements, etc. I always enjoy my herb gardens and finding different ways to use herbs so much. Success with your enlarged herb garden. Enjoy.

  11. I love home grown herbs. I grow a few on my window sill but would love to have a small raised her garden. Pasta with basil, oregano and parsley sounds delicious.

    • Hi Mina, store-bought herbs just do not compare to homegrown ones, do they? There is just no comparison. Besides the superior taste, I also enjoy walking out to the garden to pick just a little bit of this or a snip of that right at the time the herb is needed. You should check out my post to get ideas for small raised gardens.

  12. How serendipitous, I am in the process of building a culinary herb garden. It’s a big deal because we are taking out lawn laying pavers and pea gravel placing galvanized water troughs on top with drip irrigation. If room allows we may be plants a small contained garden. ?

    • Hi Susan, sounds like a tremendous amount of work that will be beautiful once it’s all done. That is one way to beat the water problem you’ve had over the past number of years. Are you going to be incorporating the culinary herbs right into the landscaping or are you planning on having separate small gardens scattered throughout? Would love to be kept updated.

      • We are planning a culinary garden in a location that’s suitable for the herbs. We start tomorrow. I can’t wait. ?

        • Susan, I’m looking forward to your recipes using herbs as I’m sure that is something you just won’t be able to resist. 🙂

  13. Glad you are back, Lenie! I love pesto in the summer. In fact, I buy two basil plants each year just to make pesto. I agree Theme gardens are the best. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Sabrina, that pesto recipe looks good, doesn’t it? I froze quite a lot of pesto last year, but this year I’m going to try that recipe to freeze. I think the oregano would give it extra zip.

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