Charles Lukooya, a trainer with CIDI institute of gardening and landscaping defines culinary herbs as plants with savoury or aromatic properties used for medicinal purposes as well as garnishing food.
Their leaves, stems, and flowers are used in cooking and baking to add flavour and aroma to dishes.
These are some of the herbs and spices you can grow in your backyard;
It’s grown from seeds but thrives with specific needs. For example, celery prefers direct sun, plenty of water and well-drained soil that is rich in nutrients.
Additionally, it should be harvested as soon as the stalks are big enough to use; about six inches.
Lukooya advises harvesting the stalks or the whole plant just below the soil line.
“Celery takes 130 to 140 days to mature between seedlings and harvest,” he highlights.
Steven Kirumira, another gardener says that parsley comes in two types; French curly leaf and the Italian flat.
“Plant from seeds. It thrives under full sun and well-drained soil,” he says adding, “Ensure the soil is packed with nutrients by mixing in compost and any other organic matter.”
Meanwhile, you will have to wait for 70- 90 days to harvest this herb. Once it matures, just hand break off the outer stems for the inner stems to continue growing.
Parsley is commonly used in salads, soups, pasta, hot and cold grain dishes.
Coriander is an annual herb with variable leaves that taste like lemon. While planting, ensure to set your garden in a cool corner with light shade and well-drained soil. Also, mulch the plants for rapid growth.
Lukooya says that coriander takes 60-70 days to mature and should be harvested while still low. The whole plant is edible.
Leonard Muzahura, another gardener with Superior landscapes says that there are over 20 mint varieties including; pepper, chocolate, pineapple, black, spear, water mint and apple mint among others.
They can be propagated from stem cuttings or planted from seeds.
“Mints prefer well-drained soil and flourish under shade but spread fast due to rhizome-like roots which produce new branches,” he explains.
To harvest, just pinch or cut off some stems below the nodes (joints) to allow them to regrow.
Elsewhere, mints add flavour to foods, drinks and creams. They are also used in tooth pastes, chewing gum, chocolates and as a mouth wash.
Just like mint, basil is also a culinary herb with different varieties including; sweet, lime, Thai, holy, scent leave and African basil (omujaaja) among others.
According to Lukooya, these herbs can also grow from seeds or cuttings and prefer six to eight hours of full sun.
You can harvest when the plants reach six to eight inches tall.
“Ensure to harvest in the morning when leaves are juicy and cool,” he advises.
Thyme comes in two varieties; common thyme and lemon.
“Plant from root cuttings or seeds. You can also use layering where the roots are developed while the stem is still attached to the parent plant,” Lukooya explains.
Meanwhile, thyme should be harvested before flowering. It’s important to note that, the more you trim, the more it grows and spreads.
Also, regular pruning is encouraged to create a more rounded shape.
Other spices and herbs include; Sage, oregano, chamomile, strawberry, nasturtium, chives, dill and fennel, rosemary, spring onions, lemon balm, lemon verbena and scented geraniums among others.