Culinary Herbs VHT242

A great course for the beginner to herb growing and their culinary uses.
Eight lessons cover common and less common herbs used for cooking.

Learn how to identify and successfully grow dozens of edible herbs. Develop your skills and experience the delights of cooking adventurous new recipes with herbs. Learn drying and other methods of preserving the flavour (eg. herb oils, salts, vinegars).

  • Learn How to Cook with Herbs
  • Learn How to Grow Edible Herbs

Comment from one of our Culinary Herb students:

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

Learn how to identify and successfully grow scores of common and uncommon edible herbs. Develop your skills and experience the delights of cooking adventurous new recipes with herbs. Learn drying and other methods of preserving the flavour (eg. herb oils, herb salts, herbal vinegar).

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Scope and Nature of Culinary Herbs
    • Herbs and Horticulture
    • Accurately Identifying Herbs
    • Plant Classification, binomial system
    • Finding the group a herb fits into -Monocotyledons and Dicotyledons, Plant Families
    • Pronouncing Plant Name
    • Resources - information contacts (ie. nurseries, seed, clubs etc.
  2. Culture
    • Overview
    • Soils
    • pH Requirements
    • Improving soil
    • Potting mixes
    • Plant Nutrition and Fertilisers
    • Water Management for Herbs
    • Diagnosing Plant Health Problems
    • Pests, Disease and Environmental Problems
    • Planting, staking, and establishing herb plants, etc.
  3. Growing Herbs
    • Propagation of herbs
    • Seed Propagation
    • Cutting Propagation
    • Potting Media
    • Division, Separation, Layering
    • Rejuvenation of Perennials
    • Designing a Culinary Herb Garden
    • Creating a Kitchen Garden
    • Planning a Fragrant Herb Garden
    • Companion Planting in Your Design
  4. Cooking With Herbs
    • General Guidelines for Using Herbs in Cooking
    • Harvesting Herbs; roots, leaves, seed, fruits
    • Handling after Harvest
    • Drying Herbs
    • Hints for Using a Range of Selected Herbs in Cooking
    • Herbs For Garnish
    • Herbal Teas: What & how to use different herbs
    • Herb Vinegars, oils, butters, cheeses, salts, sugars, honey,, etc
    • Herb Confectionary, Cakes, etc.
    • Selected Herb Recipes
    • Using Herbs with Fruit
  5. Most Commonly Grown Varieties.
    • Review of many Common Culinary herbs, including their culture and culinary use
    • Over 20 herbs reviewed in detail, incl. Alliums
    • Many additional herbs summarized
  6. Other Important Groups.
    • Lamiaceae (mint family) herbs
    • Lemon Scented Herbs and their uses
    • Hyssop
    • Mints
    • Bergamot
    • The Basils
    • Origanum species
    • Rosemary
    • Salvias
    • Thymes
    • Lavenders
  7. The Lesser Grown Varieties
    • Agastache
    • Agrimony
    • Visnaga
    • Apium
    • Arctium lappa
    • Bundium
    • Capparis; and many more
    • Using Australian Native Plants as Flavourings
  8. Special Assignment
    • A PBL Project on a selected genus of culinary herbs

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.


  • Learn from an international team or renowned horticultural experts led by John Mason, Fellow Institute of Horticulture (UK), Fellow Australian Institute of Horticulture, Fellow Parks and Leisure Australia. John is also a former nurseryman, parks director, and is one of the most prolific gardening authors from Australia -many of his books being used by other schools and universities to teach horticulture across Australia and beyond.
  • A unique opportunity to connect and learn from our international faculty that includes Rosemary Davies (formerly Garden Advisory Service, and Age Garden Writer, Melbourne), Maggi Brown (former Education officer for Garden Organic, UK), Gavin Cole (former Operations Manager for the Chelsea Gardener, London), and Dr Lyn Morgan (renowned Hydroponic expert from New Zealand); and a host of other equally qualified professionals.
  • See profiles of our faculty at

Harvest the leaves of herbs when the oils are at their peak. This is usually just before flower set, which can be any time from late spring to early autumn. It is reasonable to harvest up to 75% of the season’s growth.

  • Herbs that are harvested for their roots are lifted in autumn.
  • The flowers can also be used from many species, e.g. chamomile, borage. These should be harvested just before the flowers are fully open.
  • Wait until seed pods change to grey before harvesting herbs for their seeds, e.g. dill. Make sure however that you do so before the pods split open.
  • Collect herb flowers, such as borage and chamomile, just before full flower. Begin harvesting the herb when the plant has enough foliage to maintain growth.


Herb Harvesting Hints

  • Harvest before flowering as leaf production lessons after flowering.
  • Harvest in the early morning after dew has evaporated.
  • Harvest flowers before they are fully open as they have the most flavour, oils are most concentrated then.
  • Don’t harvest leaves once frosts start as this could damage the plant.
  • Prune back herbs in early summer to encourage a new flush of growth.
Harvesting Materials for Medicinal Use
Leaves, flowers, roots, bark, bulbs and other plant parts are commonly used in botanic drugs. To get proper results from such herbs they must be harvested and handled properly and, most of all, collected at precisely the correct time of year.
  • Leaves should always be collected on clear days, mid morning, after the dew. For most medicines, collect when the plant is starting to flower. Leaves of biennial plants are best collected in the second year of growth. To dry, spread the leaves out on a clean dry surface. Stir occasionally until they are thoroughly dry. Remove the stems from leaves and any leaves that have turned black due to dampness
  • Flowers should be collected immediately after they open. Dry the same as for leaves and only retain those which keep their natural colour.
  • Bulbs should be collected immediately after the leaves of the plant die (usually in autumn). Remove the outer scales of the bulb and dry it using artificial heat, but not over about 37°C. It may be necessary to cut the bulb into slices for drying.
  • Bark should be collected autumn or spring. Usually, the inner bark is required, so remove the outer bark first. Most barks should be dried in sunlight (but not wild cherry).
  • Seeds should be gathered on ripening. Only larger, fully developed seeds are useful


  • Cooks and chefs
  • Anyone working with food
  • Hobbyists
  • Anyone cooking family meals



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