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Top 5 Herbs To Grow For Cooking & Medicinal Use

top 5 herbs to grow for medicinal and cooking purpose
The following is a guest-post by Brenda Scott of The Well-Fed Homestead. Thanks, Brenda!

So you want to grow herbs for cooking and for medicinal use, but you’ve got a small space to grow them in. Maybe you’re in an apartment and you only have a back deck or a kitchen window. No problem! Just grow 5 basic herbs, and you’ll be set! Here’s a list of what to grow & what they’re good for.


medicinal use sage

Medicinal Uses of Sage

Use sage internally to treat fevers, bronchitis, headaches, canker sores, sinus congestion, sore throats and bad breath. Use it externally for itching, scalp problems and wounds.

More information about Sage’s healing properties:

Recipes That Use Sage

Brown Butter Sage from Learning and Yearning
Lemon-Sage Garlic Chicken from Food Loves Writing
Turkey with CranApple Sage Stuffing from Real Food University
Rosemary and Sage Zucchini Pickles from Small Footprint Family


medicinal use peppermint

Medicinal Uses of Peppermint

Use peppermint internally for bronchitis, colds, flu, colic, colitis, fever, flatulence, heartburn, menstrual cramps, migraines, nausea & sore throats. Use it externally for fatigue, bad breath, headaches, itching, muscle pain, sinus congestion and toothaches.

More information about Peppermint’s healing properties:

Recipes that use Peppermint

How to Make Homemade Peppermint Extract from Whole Natural Life
Cucumber Mint Water from Food Renegade
Minty After Dinner Drink from DIY Natural


dill medicinal use

Medicinal Uses of Dill

Use Dill internally for bad breath, bronchitis, colic, coughs, flatulence, poor appetite and lactation.

More information about Dill’s healing properties:

Recipes that use Dill

Garlic Dill Perch from Ditch The Wheat
Lacto-Fermented Garlic Dill Pickles from The Nourishing Cook
Lemon Dill Salmon from Low Carb One Day at a Time
Campfire Roast Chicken with Flowering Onion and Dill from Nourished Kitchen
Pickle Relish from Food Renegade
Copycat Whole Foods Salmon Dip from Mommypotamus


medicinal use fennel

Medicinal Uses of Fennel

Use Fennel internally for colic, cramps, flatulence, gout, indigestion and lactation.

More information about Fennel’s healing properties:

Recipes that use Fennel

Braised Fennel with Basil from Nourished Kitchen
Bruschetta Sauce with Balsamic & Fresh Fennel from Food Loves Writing
Slow Cooker Fennel Chicken with Orange from Empowered Sustenance
Fennel, Beet, Blood Orange & Kalamata Olive Salad from Cheeseslave
Chicken Fennel Soup from Rubies and Radishes
Roasted Sunflower Fennel Crisps from Fooduciary


medicinal use thyme

Medicinal Uses of Thyme

Use Thyme internally for asthma, bronchitis, colds, flu, cough, food poisoning, fevers, migraines, nightmares & sore throats.

More information about Thyme’s healing properties:

Recipes that use Thyme

Toasted Almonds with Rosemary, Thyme and Lemon from Nourished Kitchen
Rosemary and Thyme Pork Chops from Low Carb One Day at a Time
Simple Potato Salad with Thyme and Olive Oil from Nourishing Joy
French Pot Roast from Well Fed Homestead

top 5 herbs to grow for cooking and medicinal uses


Have you grown any of these herbs before? What have you used them for?

About Brenda

Brenda Scott is a farmer’s wife & homeschooling mom of 4 kids from Molalla, Oregon. She writes about real food, farming, gardening, grain-free eating & the GAPS Diet at The Well Fed Homestead. You can also follow her on Facebook.

(photo top: thejtrain, sage photo: lord_bute, dill photo: denisdefreyne, fennel photo: satrinao, thyme photo: erutuan, peppermint photo: detsugu)

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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.
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20 Responses to Top 5 Herbs To Grow For Cooking & Medicinal Use
  1. Karen Joy
    May 7, 2013 | 12:43 pm

    Cool! I have three of five growing now — fennel, sage, and dill. I have tried growing thyme a number of times (ha!) before, but it doesn’t seem to do well in the Phoenix area, for me, at least. And, a friend is giving me some peppermint cuttings to grow, next Friday… :) I’m a HUGE fan of fennel!! It really is a superfood. I wish more people ate and grew it!!

    • Brenda Scott
      May 7, 2013 | 10:10 pm

      Karen, I AGREE about fennel! It is awesome stuff!

  2. Sherri
    May 7, 2013 | 8:13 pm

    Great List! I was planning to grow sage to make sausage, but I didn’t know what else I could do with it until now.

    • Brenda Scott
      May 7, 2013 | 10:09 pm

      I’m glad this list was helpful to you, Sherri! :)

  3. dee lee
    May 8, 2013 | 12:05 am

    What type of soil do you use, and where can you get it?
    My composting is not going so well.


  4. Kat
    May 8, 2013 | 7:18 am

    Cool, it’s always nice to see herbs highlighted. I’m growing tulsi, mint, Cuban oregano, sage, yarrow, lemongrass, elder, and more. They are well loved in both my kitchen and apothecary.

  5. Lynne McMillan
    May 9, 2013 | 8:52 am

    This is a nice list of the herbs to grow for. I did not have any experience of growing any of these herbs before but it seems nice to grow herbs in a backyard. In this way, people are comfortable with the herbs and they did not have to worry if there are pesticides added since they grew these herbs. Thanks for the suggestions.

  6. Ryan
    May 9, 2013 | 11:01 am

    I tried growing my own herbs (basil) once in a small pot, and ended up using it so much that it hadn’t grown back in time to use more. Should I just plant several plants of it? I use herbs a lot in cooking and prefer fresh instead of powdered versions.

    • Becky
      May 12, 2013 | 1:43 am

      Hi Ryan,
      I had the same problem when I first started growing herbs. I planted quite a few plants of the ones I used the most. Basil and Thyme being two of them. I usually planted at least 6 or 7 basil. A good rule of thumb to make sure you don’t over harvest your plants is to only take 25% of each plant to make sure it will be able to regenerate. I’m sure some would argue that you can take more but that has kept my plants healthy. Hope that helps

  7. Vania Melamed
    May 11, 2013 | 11:57 am

    IMPORTANT*** ALL of these herbs are ANTI-GALACTOGOUES, meaning, IF YOU ARE BREASTFEEDING, use of these herbs more than 5 times in one year can SGINIFICANTLY reduce milk supply and efficacy. PLEASE BEAR THAT IN MIND.

  8. Jan
    May 11, 2013 | 3:09 pm

    Plant members of the mint family in pots or contain them somehow, otherwise they’ll get away from you and spread all over.

  9. Rebecca
    May 11, 2013 | 3:33 pm

    I’ve grown sage, thyme and spearmints many times, as well as many others. However, lavender is my all time fave herb both for culinary, medicinal and for enjoyment and strewing.

    You can drink lavender as a tea, use it topically as a balm, strew on the floor to discourage bugs and freshen the house, create sachets to keep clothes and linens fresh. Lavender can do (practically) everything!

  10. Louise
    May 11, 2013 | 8:01 pm

    I have thyme, oregano & lavender that thrive, and some volunteer cilantro coming up. I’ve had bad luck with sage & dill, but my neighbor grows it so I know it’s possible here and am going to try those again.

  11. Jennifer Cote
    May 13, 2013 | 2:32 pm

    I think those are all winners, Kristen. I like that, once established, certain herbs are pretty drought-tolerant: Peppermint and Spearmint (kept contained is wise), plus Sage, Thyme, Oregano, Lavender, & Rosemary. I get neglectful, but they carry on! Even parsley can thrive on neglect. I let one plant go to seed years ago, and now, parsley babies pop up all over the place. We always have parsley to brighten up any dish, which is nice. Arugula can reseed well too- it also adds interest to many dishes.
    I need to get going on the fennel, though. I hope mine grows as well as yours!

  12. adrian coxon
    May 15, 2013 | 6:32 pm

    mmm I’m going to try to grow fennel. I noticed that you do not eat grain. Qutie understandable if you live in the U.S. Wheat has been made toxic, don’t you agree? I would like to suggest Teff as an excellent “grass” you may wish to try, and also Quinoa
    Greetings Adrian

  13. Hannah J
    May 29, 2013 | 2:14 pm

    What a great list! I think I’m going to start growing peppermint. I love peppermint tea, but I can’t find it organic anywhere. With the GMOs now and days, you never really know what’s in your food unless you grow it. I love peppermint tea, and drink it daily in the winter… so now it’s on my gardening list!

    Check out my blog at:

  14. neff cooker Hoods
    May 20, 2014 | 9:28 am

    Does your blog have a contact page? I’m having problems locating it but, I’d like to send you an email.
    I’ve got some suggestions for your blog you might be interested in hearing.
    Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing it expand over time.

  15. Becky Sylvia Chapin via Facebook
    June 24, 2014 | 10:47 pm

    None of those 5 (yet), but just harvested from my Basil for the first time. :)

  16. Food Renegade via Facebook
    June 24, 2014 | 10:57 pm

    Congratulations, Becky Sylvia Chapin!

  17. Elizabeth Henderson via Facebook
    June 26, 2014 | 9:16 am

    I have 4 or the 5 planted, but my sage doesnt seem to be doing as well as the others, I used miracle grow and black cow compost in all my pots, Any suggestions ot tips??

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.
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