Herbs are essential for cooking. They can make a simple dish flavourful and interesting. They are also healthier replacements for processed ingredients that you can buy in the supermarket these days. The only problem though is certain herbs are hard to find, and some are seasonal. They can be costly as well.
So growing your own herbs is a practical way to save money and to ensure you have fresh herb anytime you need it. If you want to start your own herb garden for cooking and don’t know where to start – then this guide is for you.
Choose your selections of herb
Before starting your own herb garden, select first which herbs do you need. There’s no hard rule on selecting herbs. The most important thing is to start with something that’s handy, and you can use often.
To give you an idea, below are the easiest herbs to grow in your garden and their uses.
Basil is a culinary herb belonging to mint family and is used for different cuisines worldwide. It is an essential ingredient for Italian and Mediterranean cuisines. It is a versatile ingredient and is known as the base for pesto, and it works well with pizza, salad, and sandwiches. Vinegar, oil, and dressings can be made from basil too.
Mint is another popular herb famed for its flavor. It is known to complement drinks and can be made as a stand-alone low-calorie drink. It is a great source of vitamins and minerals and known to aid digestion problems.
Dill is an aromatic annual herb of the celery family. It is another versatile herb that is good for soup, salads, cream cheese, pickles and as an ingredient for drinks. It has a piquant fragrance that reflects on its flavor. It is most popular in Central Asia and Northern and Eastern Europe.
Parsley is one of the most common herbs used for garnishing. It is also known for boosting the taste of a dish without adding an unhealthy amount of salt or sugar. It also a good source of vitamins, minerals and is known to have the highest concentrations of Myricetin. It’s a flavonoid that helps prevent certain cancers.
Thyme is a popular herb that compliments soups, stews, meats, and sauces well. It is an herb of the mint family. It has subtle minty flavor and dry aroma. The uses for thyme extend to its health benefits including antibacterial properties and acne-fighting ingredients. Storing thyme is not a problem. You can either freeze it or dry it to use for future cooking.
Cilantro is also known as coriander or Chinese parsley and considered as one of the oldest herbs in history. It is used mostly for salads, pasta, stir-fry, soups, chutneys, and stews. It also a good source of several vitamins, minerals, and antibacterial properties.
A personal favorite, lemongrass is an herb known for its subtle lemony aroma and citrus flavor. It is a popular ingredient for Southeast Asian cuisines. Lemongrass is a popular stuffing for anything roasted. A glass of lemongrass tea will also change the way you look at tea.
Where to plant herbs
You can plant most of these herbs in a pot in your garden. If you don’t have a garden or has limited space, you can also place the pots in a balcony, window chills or any space in your kitchen where the plants can get sunlight. Most herbs are low maintenance plants, and they don’t require too much space to grow.
What do you need
- herb seeds/ plants
- small size pots
- well-drained potting soil
How do you make an herb garden for cooking
The process of planting herb is easy even for beginners. Below are the step-by-step process of making an herb garden for cooking.
1. Choose the herbs that you will often use as a starter.
2. Select a location where you can place your herb containers or pots. Make sure the herbs get at least 6 hours of sunshine so place it in a south-facing window to get enough sunlight if you are planning to place it indoor. Like all the plants, they thrive better with an adequate supply of sunlight. If it’s winter, use fluorescent lights as alternative light.
3. Prepare the soil. Fill the container with potting mix. Herbs grow better in the well-drained soil so make sure to choose the proper soil for your herbs. Add compost to supplement the soil nutrients and for the herbs to grow better and faster. Make sure to use individual containers/ pots for each herb, so it gets specific care that it needs.
4. Sow seeds. Each herb has a different planting depth so check the seed packets for instructions.
5. Water the seeds right away after sowing.
Proper care for the herb garden
1. Some herbs require watering every 2 to 3 days while others require daily especially for the herbs planted outside. To ensure that the herbs get proper care, always check the soil. If the soil is getting dry, then it’s time to water the plants.
2. Contrary to popular belief, herbs don’t die when you harvest from it often. In fact, it encourages the growth of the plants. So try to harvest as often as possible.
3. Remove weeds occasionally.