How to Grow, Cook & Use Three Culinary Herbs

By Amber Bradshaw

Three culinary herbs that grow well here in the Low Country are Thyme, Rosemary and Mint. Learn how to grow, cook and use them.


Thyme is one of those herbs that most people enjoy. However, few people know how to use it. In addition to cooking with thyme, it is one of the main ingredients in my anti-bacterial cleaner. I’ll bet you never thought of adding thyme to your house cleaner? Honestly, it has wonderful medicinal properties that make it great for killing bacteria as well as many other benefits.

Thyme is a beautiful addition to any garden. Perfect for borders or even draping over window boxes. There are so many varieties to choose from, like variegated, lemon and even a velvety soft variety called Elfin Thyme.

When planting thyme, I like to place it in front of other herbs and make sure it receives good drainage. Thyme does best in full sun – plant in well-drained soil with a pH of about 7.0; it prefers slightly alkaline conditions. Add limestone, oyster shells, or crushed eggshell to plants when planting and give thyme excellent drainage.

This amazing herb has been used both in savory and sweet dishes. The most familiar pairing is in Italian cooking, but there are so many uses.


If I had to pick only one herb for my garden, (gasp!) I would have to pick rosemary. The smell is like none other and the multitude of uses makes this herb a rock-star plant. Like many other herbs, rosemary is a member of the mint family. It is a perennial (and an evergreen) here on the coast in SC, zone 8b. Rosemary likes to have 5-6 hours of sun per day to thrive and well drained soil is essential. Rosemary is beautiful in a landscape and can make a great shrub – it attracts bees and butterflies; other beneficial insects love rosemary.

The main pest that rosemary attracts is spider mites. The best way I have combatted spider mites is with a hard spray with the garden hose. You can also use a 3:1 ratio of water and rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle. Another remedy you can try is 1 tsp of Blue Dawn dish soap in 8 oz of water in a spray bottle and spray the mites.

When you are ready to harvest your rosemary to make an amazing dish, make sure to cut your sprig all the way down towards the bottom of the stem. Rosemary will branch off the cutting. Cutting toward the end of the branch will result in a leggy, droopy plant.

Rosemary has a tea-like aroma and a piney flavor. Rosemary’s pungent, assertive flavor blends well with meats and side dishes.


Mint is very prolific; it’s no wonder the question I get asked most often is what to do with it. I happen to love the refreshing taste, smell and feel of mint so I have no problem coming up with ways to use it. The most common mints are Peppermint and Spearmint. I have also grown and enjoyed: Chocolate Mint, Pineapple Mint, Apple Mint and many more. If you’re confused by the mint family, don’t worry, you are not alone, with over 6,000 species and over 200 genera, it’s easy to get confused.

Some key points to remember when growing mint are: Plant it once and enjoy it year after year, Mint prefers fertile soil with a pH from 6.0 to 7.0. It is a fast-growing, spreading plant and ideal for planting in pots. Mint also makes a good ground cover.

When planting mint, select a damp area in your garden in either full sun or part shade. Always plant mint in a pot unless you want it to be a ground cover. I purposely plant mint in the ground so it will be a ground cover. Because of the vast amount of shade we have, we can’t grow grass, but we can grow mint.

Mint oil is often used in toothpaste, gum, candy and beauty products. The leaves are used either fresh or dried for teas and food. Mix mint with fresh fruit and add to a pitcher of filtered water for a refreshing drink.

About this writer

  • Amber Bradshaw

    Amber Bradshaw, of My Homestead Life, is an environmentalist, homesteader, garden and outdoor enthusiast. A mother of three, Amber owns a contracting business with her husband, was President of the local Herb Society for three years, a 4-H Leader, Blogger and runs a CSA. Amber strives to get back into nature with a more sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle that fits a busy schedule and a tight budget. She lives on the east coast with her family on a little over 1/4 acre and encourages others to do big things with small spaces.

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2 Responses to “How to Grow, Cook & Use Three Culinary Herbs”

  1. Anna Riley says:

    Thanks for the herb tips! I’d have never thought of thyme in a household cleanser. I make my own cleanser as well as store bought. I’ll have to add it to my homemade cleanser for sure! :)

  2. Linda O'Connell says:

    This was interesting. Thanks for sharing.

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