Herbs for Cooking & Dehydrating


Today’s post isn’t a recipe but food for thought instead. I bought these herbs from a local organic greenhouse today. I have been planting herbs every year and I add more to my collection each year.

This year I found lemon thyme and it smells just like lemon! I also bought bay leaf which I did not know is a tree. They talked to me extensively about how to grow this tree and they said I need to bring it inside and to use a grow light for the upcoming winter. OK I’ve tried this before with the annual herbs and it didn’t work but she said that is because they are annuals. So I will see how well the bay leaf tree grows outside and then decide if I want to keep it inside for the winter.

If you have never grown your own herbs before, they are very easy as long as you keep up with cutting pieces off of them. You will not believe how much better your recipes will taste using fresh herbs compared to the dried herbs in the store that who knows how old they are.

You can grow your herbs just about anywhere outside as long as you follow the instructions for sunlight and have the proper dirt. In the past I have grown my herbs in a raised bed in the garden. This year I am thinking about putting them in pots but I still haven’t decided. I have many bare spots in my perineal flower beds and instead of planting annuals I am thinking of planting the herbs. If anyone has an opinion as to pot planting compared to in the ground planting I would love to hear from you. I know they will stay moister in the ground but I get a lot of weeds here in the country and feel it will be easier for weed control if they are in pots.

I will use my herbs fresh all season long with my recipes and to garnish my plates. When the cold is near, or if I get too many herbs to use fresh, I will dehydrate them for the winter. If you click HERE it is the link to a post I did back in 2017 on dehydrating herbs.


  1. I have a selection of herbs in pots on my balcony but they generally don’t survive my cycles of neglect and overwatering!

    • I can grow them great in the ground but I think I will do the same thing as you (over water) in the pots. The pots always dry out so fast. I have never tried them in pots and I don’t want to kill them so they told me to put them in pots and then put the pot in the ground so I can move them if I want.

  2. Diane, my herbs don’t last long enough to grow larger than the original pots! I use them by the handful and they are used up very quickly. We are in a condo for 7-months of the year so I’m limited. Having said that, without a doubt fresh herbs absolutely make the difference in a recipe – hands down.

    • That’s what I’m afraid of if I put them in pots. They get so big in my garden I have to dehydrate them so they don’t go to seed. I’m thinking I should stick to the garden. Thank you for your input June!

  3. I so love fresh herbs but am debating whether to buy them this year as I spend two weeks away each summer and they always die on me:(

  4. I have oregano that never dies. This time of year it has grown into a huge patch so I cut a whole bunch of it, put it in a paper bag and that becomes my dried oregano for the rest of the year. I rip out as much of what remains to keep it from taking over everything. But by this time next year there will be another patch of it for me to cut and dry.

    I also grow basil. I harvest it throughout the year, make pesto, and freeze it. So I have homegrown, homemade pesto throughout the year.

    • This is my first time growing oregano. They said it will come back after the winter so I’m excited. I wish I could keep my basil all year as it is my favorite herb to cook with. Pesto is amazing! I am so excited to have lemon thyme, smells just like lemon. If I put mine in the garden again I won’t have to worry about it taking over everything because we have raised beds. I have grown some herbs for about 4 years in the raised bed and it has kept them contained. Thank you so much for your advice Mark!

  5. I love growing herbs and can’t wait to plant mine for this season. I find that most do well in pots, however the basil seems to do much better in the ground. At least that has been my experience so far.

  6. Hi Diane, this is an excellent post and really pretty picture! 💜

    I too plant herbs every year. Love putting herbs in the bare spots and also as companion planting for the veggies ie-tomatoes and basil. When in doubt-planted in pots and set out in location—and watch. Spreading herbs like peppermint I would recommend in pots-unless you really like mint—like me for its deer resistance—I love their cool blue flowers in the late summer. I let it all herbs go to seed.

    We had a bay tree for several years-and yes I took it in (zone 8) not cold hardy. Super fun little tree to prune/shape. My husband always says “like a pompon”

    It was prone to scale—so be vigilant checking the stem joints for waxy feeling bugs that look like scales-you can just rub them off with your fingers—or spray.

    So many delicious dishes start with a bay leaf-and it was considered “the prize”-as kids-if you got the bay in your bowl. Ha! Lovely food for thought here. Thank you. 🙏🏻

    • Such wonderful information! Thank you! I love the prize of the bay leaf because I was always taught to discard it before serving. What a great way to get the grandkids to eat by searching for the bay leaf! I hide a pickle ornament in our Christmas Tree and they love looking for that too. Have a great day and again…thank you!

      • A pickle ornament—that is brilliant, Diane! Yeah-bay leaves are a wonderful herb. Caution-I once watched my young cousin almost choke on a bay leaf. Hmmm…come to think of it-that may be where that tradition started!

        So great that you can teach you grandchildren about food and how to feed themselves-now. They will grow up with valuable life skills—and happy memories too!

      • Thank you! It is such a joy teaching my grandchildren. Today I taught my granddaughter how to plant herbs and flowers. She told me she will come back every year to help me do this. Sounds good to me!

  7. I love fresh herbs and buy small plants. Did not know about bay leaves. Interesting that you can bring the tree inside for the winter. Is it a small container tree?

      • We had a frost warning last night, but more for the northern suburbs, not us, but we were pretty cold too. Amazing weather!

      • I agree! I drained and cleaned my 2 ponds today and I am still freezing! It took 3-1/2 hours and I did it after the surprise party. I’m beat!

      • You have an endless supply of energy Diane. It was chilly out yesterday and once the sun went behind the clouds, downright freezing. Hope the surprise party went well and your mother-in-law is still glowing in the aftermath and gushing about her sweet daughter-in-law!

      • I had energy but I could barely move that night and the next day! I actually spent Mothers Day with my wonderful mother in law. Everyone had to work and I didn’t have the grandkids (every other weekend) so we went out to eat just the two of us. My parents live in Florida but my Mom is visiting in a few weeks.

      • That was nice Diane. You have a great relationship with your mother in law and she had a wonderful weekend. I know that first day(s) out to do yard work is a killer – you feel like you’ll never straighten up again – OMG.

  8. Good luck with the Bay Tree. It needs full sun being from India south. I had one in England grew to 5 feet and 4 foot wide in big pot. winters in England not hard.i brought it here out on garden very hot.It loved it made many more leaves and in winter brought into to conservatory at front of house. My though frost free and sun through glass even if snow outside. 7 year old tree died in first winter here. They only exist outside no matter who says different. without sunshine direct it is a no no. if your winters are very mild Id plant it and mulch it and see how it goes. If it dies go back for your refund. Here just cant have another try with Bay trees. In England need gentle protection and out of winds. I used to cover it over with fleece. My sister has one 50 foot high came with house she bought. No winter at all in the part on old England she lives in. In Bombay i recall an avenue lined with bay trees so tall that I had to ask and was told just a hedging plant here. I hope im wrong but think me right.Sorry dear you but leaves are cheap enough to buy.in all else fails. Dislike giving advice so we say its my experience thus passed on.

    • The lady told me she puts hers under a grow light which I have. However I will see if it grows outside first. You are right, for the few bay leaves I use I don’t think I want the hassle of trying to keep it alive over the winter. Our winters can get below zero degrees and there is always wind at my house! Thank you for your advice, good or bad news you are an expert compared to me!

  9. I have some herbs back at our LakeHouse in Pennsylvania. The countdown is on when we return for the summer there. I wish you well with your gardening! Happy Mother’s Day!

  10. That lemon thyme sounds sooo yummy!! And thank you for sharing these tips about drying herbs- I have never thought to do this before! I bet it is a game changer with cooking. Have a great week, Diane!

  11. I want to grow my own herbs and some vegetables too but have no idea how to 🙁 lol I’m hoping I can get my house fixed up this summer so I can maybe make make a raised bed for everything. It will take me loads of research first lol

  12. It’s really cool how you can make your herbs stay for a year it’s so intriguing, I actually am a starting account so I’d really appreciate if you could follow me?

  13. We live in the city…potted plants get blown to bits on the high rise balcony. But it’s good to have friends with herbs….I help them keep them snipped low to grow more! No comparison to fresh herbs in any recipe.

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