Herb gardens are beneficial to those who dabble in culinary arts or who like to use them for medicinal purposes, but sometimes it can be difficult to find the space to grow one. A window box can be installed or built easily, hold a sufficient amount of herbs and not take up any space. An added bonus is that you can reach right out your kitchen window to gather fresh herbs.
Rosemary can grow as a mini shrub or trailing flexible branches. The narrow green leaves are very aromatic and can be used in cooking and aromatherapy. The strong evergreen scent is often used for massage oils, while the leaves can be finely chopped and sprinkled on just about any dish, such as cheese plates, bread, stews and soups, sauces, or mixed with bread crumbs to create a crust for poultry or beef. It is also used medicinally as a tonic for headaches and respiratory problems. Once rosemary is established in the window box, it grows slowly and needs watering only about once a week in temperate climates.
Basil is very well-known for its sweet flavor and for being a common ingredient to top the tasty appetizer bruschetta. This herb grows in clusters with flat, velvety, green leaves. It tastes best when chopped up fresh. This herb can be added to chopped salads, chilled yogurt, fruit salads, soups (creamy tomato basil soup) and as a garnish to meat dishes. You can also chew on a leaf to freshen breath. Although basil needs minimal care, it needs lots of sun (in desert climates where the sun is hotter it needs partial shade) and regular watering to keep the soil moist.
Chives flourish in window boxes in full sun and grow long and bushy quickly, which can lay over other herbs and block sun if not placed properly. Once the stems are cut, they can grow back quickly. It is important to trim and utilize the delicate thin green leaves regularly. Fortunately, chives can be used for hundreds of cooking recipes, particularly as a garnish. Chives add an onion touch to any dish, so add chives as a replacement for onion or garlic in potato dishes, salads, sauces and dips, soups, yogurt and meat dishes, particularly beef. You can also dry out chives by hanging them upside down in the kitchen until slightly crunchy, then store in airtight bottles.
Peppermint is a popular herb for its scent and bold flavor it adds to desserts such as ice cream and chocolate, as well as fruit dishes. This perennial herb grows with spreading rootstalks and stems that grow straight up to heights of 2 feet. It is attractive with dark leaves and red stems, with a spicy pungent fragrance. When blooming, tiny purple flowers pop up all over the peppermint plant. When growing peppermint, the soil needs to be consistently moist, in either shade or sun. It spreads quickly, so keep it pruned back often.