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Culinary Herbs

Course CodeVHT242
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Expand Your Knowledge and Make your Meals More Interesting

Take this course to learn how to grow and use edible herbs:

  • A correspondence course for the enthusiast or commercial grower
  • Improve your self sufficiency; enhance business or career prospects 
  • Start any time - self-paced, study from anywhere 

Comments from students

"I have found the course interesting and it has expanded my knowledge of herbs immensely" D. Christian

" I wanted to study herbs .... ACS offered the best option - study at home, at my own pace and still tutor contact when I needed it. I was undecided in the facet of herbs that I wanted to specialise in - that was until I completed an assignment to produce three herbal products. My tutor tested my products and encouraged me to set up a small business making and distributing a range of natural herbal cosmetic and household products. His guidance has helped me establish an interesting and profitable business from my studies"
- Catherine, studying Certificate in Applied Management

Take food into a whole new dimension with herbs.
There are hundreds of edible herbs that can be used to flavour, decorate or subtly enhance your cooking. There are even herbs that can be used to make drinks (hot and cold). Learn to identify, grow and use these many culinary herbs; for personal or professional purposes.

Suitable course for:

  • Horticulturists, market gardeners, herb farmers, nurserymen
  • Cooks, Chefs, Food Professionals
  • Enthusiastic home gardeners, housewives; or anyone interested in herbs in the kitchen

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Review of the system of plant identification
    • general characteristics of culinary herbs
    • information contacts (ie: nurseries, seed, clubs, etc.).
  2. Culture
    • Planting,staking
    • mulching
    • watering
    • pest & disease
    • feeding
    • pruning
    • protection from wind, salt air, etc.
  3. Propagate and create a Kitchen Garden
    • Propagation
    • Creating a Kitchen Garden
    • Growing in pots, inside, or in the open ground.
  4. Cooking with Herbs.
    • Culinary uses of herbs
    • Herb teas and recipes
    • Fresh and dried herb use.
  5. The Most Commonly Grown Varieties.
    • Garlic
    • parsley
    • chives.
  6. Other Important Groups.
    • The Lamiaceae family- one of the most aromatic and flavoursome herb families.
  7. Lesser Grown Varieties
    • How to cook with lesser known herbs.
  8. Special Assignment
    • On one selected plant or group.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Describe the plant naming system, the major family groups that herbs fall into and the resources available to the culinary herb grower.
  • Describe how to manage the cultural requirements of culinary herbs.
  • Describe the various methods of propagation, both sexual and asexual, the treatments generally used for seed storage and the handling of cutting material.
  • Explain the way in which herbs are used in cooking and which herbs best suit various dishes.
  • Discuss the most common herb varieties used in cooking.
  • Compare a range of culinary herbs in a single plant family.
  • Discuss a range of lesser grown culinary herb varieties.
  • Explain the uses of a range of culinary herbs within a specific group of herb plants.

It all Starts with Accurate Plant Knowledge

You must be able to identify a herb before you eat it.

Some herbs may be great as a medicine or bath oil; but that doesn't make them safe to eat.

Any good culinary herb course must then, first start with the identification of the herbs. Once you know what a herb is, you can then progress to learning how to grow it, how to harvest it, and how to use it with your food.  This course will teach you all of this and more.

There are hundreds of Culinary herbs which you can discover, experiment with and learn about. Here is just one:



The common herb Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is characteristically grown as a plant in the herb garden for harvesting short sprigs that are used in the kitchen. It can also be used as an ornamental plant for hedges and greenery around other plants. Low growing (groundcover) varieties can be used in hanging pots, garden planters and in raised garden beds to spill over the edge to soften the landscape. When you clip it to maintain the hedge or shape, you can use these clippings in the kitchen. New flower colour forms have been released in the past few years although most gardeners prefer the traditional light blue flower form.

Rosemary grows best in full sun and well-drained soil. Do not over fertilise or use excessive mulch, although compost dug into the soil prior to planting is beneficial. When watering the plant, try not to wet the foliage too much, especially in the heat of summer, as Rosemary does not like excessive humidity.

USES: leaves fresh or dried to flavour meats, soups, vegetables, in vinegars, chutneys, etc. Rosemary has also been used as a garnish and flavouring for strong tasting fruit, such as Citrus. Rosemary can also be used in herbal teas, but be careful not to overdo it – lemon, honey or a few lavender flowers may be added for extra flavour.


You can make your own teas quite easily and drink them to give yourself a rich boost of vitamins and minerals, to help treat simple conditions such as headaches, an upset stomach and insomnia or simply to provide an alternative beverage to your usual repertoire.
Herbal teas have stood the test of time. In fact, they've been consumed for thousands of years in all parts of the world and in most cultures. And for good reason too. Not only can they taste really good, teas are able to capture more than half of the valuable nutrients from the plant material - nutrients which could otherwise go to waste.
Growing Your Own Herbs for Teas
If growing your own herbs for use in teas, there are some points worth noting. Firstly, some herbs are annuals whereas others are perennials. Perennials are usually the woody stemmed types like sage, thyme, oregano and rosemary. Annuals are fleshier like coriander and basil. However, where you live can influence the lifespan of herbs. Many annual types do better in warmer regions where they can last indefinitely. In colder areas they are unlikely to withstand the winter temperatures and will die off.
Use herbs that are species plants rather than cultivated varieties – the latter are thought to have fewer active constituents (in some cases). 
The quality of the herbs is also determined in part by your local climate. Most herbs need a lot of sunlight in order to promote oil production. It is the essential oils in herbs which produces their unmistakable aromas, and which provides flavour when ingested in food or infused in teas. If you are growing herbs in a cooler climate you will therefore need to position them where they can benefit from the most exposure to sunlight 
Many perennial herbs do not need particularly rich soils, but most thrive in a warm and sunny position.  A few herbs such as rocket, parsley, mustard, and the mints, which make wonderfully refreshing teas, prefer a semi-shaded spot and moist soils. With some herbs, like the mints, there are also many different species, each with their unique taste. Why not grow several different types for a range of different teas?
Mints also have very invasive root systems, as do some others like horseradish, so they are best grown in containers to stop them from taking over garden beds. Containers are ideal for many other herbs too because it means you can move the containers to catch sunlight, and you can place them in the shelter of a greenhouse over winter if needs be. It is usually best to grow individual species in separate containers if space permits, since they may grow at different rates. Annuals and tender perennials grown in the open ground can be protected with a cloche or cold frame over winter.



Knowledge of culinary herbs is useful:

  • In the home to create more interesting meals everyday
  • For catering businesses to understand which herbs go with what
  • For chefs and cooks to expand their menus
  • For herb businesses such as small herb nurseries
  • For those working on a herb farm or wanting to set one up.



Meet some of our academics

John Mason Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant. Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK. He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world; author of more than 70 books and editor for 4 different gardening magazines. John has been recognised by his peers being made a fellow of the Institute of Horticulture in the UK, as well as by the Australian Institute of Horticulture.
Maggi BrownMaggi is regarded as an expert in organic growing throughout the UK, having worked for two decades as Education Officer at the world renowned Henry Doubleday Research Association. She has been active in education, environmental management and horticulture across the UK for more than three decades. Some of Maggi's qualifications include RHS Cert. Hort. Cert. Ed. Member RHS Life Member Garden Organic (HDRA) .
Diana Cole B.A. (Hons), Dip. Horticulture, BTEC Dip. Garden Design, Diploma Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Life Long Learning Sector), P.D.C. In addition to the qualifications listed above, Diana holds City & Guild construction qualifications and an NPTC pesticide spraying licence (PA1/PA6). Diana runs her own landscape gardening business (Arbella Gardens). Active in many organisations including the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers.
Yvonne SharpeRHS Cert.Hort, Dip.Hort, M.Hort, Cert.Ed., Dip.Mgt. Over 30 years experience in business, education, management and horticulture. Former department head at a UK government vocational college. Yvonne has traveled widely within and beyond Europe, and has worked in many areas of horticulture from garden centres to horticultural therapy. She has served on industry committees and been actively involved with amateur garden clubs for decades.

Check out our eBooks

Organic GardeningCreate a healthy, well-balanced garden. Attract abundant beneficial insects to pollinate your plants. Have healthy, fertile, organic soils teeming with life. Use this book as a guide to establish lush gardens laden with fruit, vegetables, herbs and ornamentals - without the use of chemicals. The ebook covers: soils and nutrition, pest and disease, natural weed control, conservation and recycling. 179 pages, 170 colour photos
Getting Work in HorticultureFind out what it is like to work in horticulture; how diverse the industry is, how to get a start, and how to build a sustainable, long term and diverse career that keeps your options broad, so you can move from sector to sector as demand and fashion changes across your working life.
HerbsHerbs are fascinating plants, mystical and romantic. They have a rich history dating back centuries. Used by monks, apothecaries and ‘witches’ in the past, herbs are undergoing a revival in interest. They are easy to grow, scented, culinary and medicinal plants. In a formal herb garden or peppered throughout the garden, herbs rarely fail! Find out how they are used as medicines, for cooking, perfumes and more. This book has nine chapters covering the following topics: an introduction to herbs, cultivation, propagation, pest and diseases, herb gardens, an A-Z plant directory, using herbs, features for herb gardens, herbs in pots - 113 colour photos 61 pages
Fruit, Vegetables and HerbsHome grown produce somehow has a special quality. Some say it tastes better, others believe it is just healthier. And there is no doubt it is cheaper! Watching plants grow from seed to harvest and knowing that the armful of vegies and herbs you have just gathered for the evening meal will be on the table within an hour or two of harvest, can be an exciting and satisfying experience.