Herbs grow surprisingly well in most of Canada's cooler climates as long as the plants receive plenty of sun. The long days of sunlight in northern Canada also make ideal growing conditions for a few months each year, giving you plenty of time to grow and enjoy fresh herbs. Plant herbs in containers to make it easier to protect them if early or late frosts occur.
The fragrant smell of freshly-picked basil makes it a favorite for both gardeners and cooks. Primarily associated with pasta dishes or tomatoes, basil leaves also work well in a wide variety of dishes including sauces, fish, soups, vegetables and roasts. You can also dry extra basil for use year-round. To keep basil growing for as long as possible, pinch back the flowers and use the leaves often to encourage the plant to grow more. Plant basil in a protected, sunny area where temperatures stay above 50 degrees F; grow plants in containers and protect them at night to extend the growing season.
This perennial herb thrives in cooler climates. Featuring showy purple flowers and tasty, long-green stems that reach up to 2 feet in height, chives taste a bit like mild, green onions. While most cooks use the green stems with eggs and fish, the flowers may also be used in salads or as garnishes. While the stems offer a mild flavor, be aware that the flowers have a very strong taste. Chives grow in almost any type of soil as long as you plant them in full sun. Snip the green stems as close to the base of the plant as you can. If you don't want chives to take over your garden, cut off the spent flowers so they can't form seeds.
A member of the parsley family, many cooks use the dill plant's feathery leaves, also known as dill weed, in dishes that require more subtle flavors such as seafood, sauces and vegetables. The seeds that arrive later in the brief growing season offer a much stronger flavor, making them ideal for use in pickles or as a substitute for salt. Easy to start from seed, dill thrives in full sun in moist, well-drained soil, growing up to 3 feet high. When you need dill weed for your cooking, just snip some off of plants that are more than 5 inches high. If you plan to use the dill seed, allow the flowers to open and turn brown before snipping them off to be dried and used later.