How to grow your own super-powered herbs that last forever
If you’re a budding chef or just a lover of good food, you’ll know the importance of cooking with the highest quality, most flavorful ingredients you can find. Cooking with herbs adds a world of flavor to your dishes, as well as a variety of health benefits, but many people don’t realize the importance of using fresh herbs over dried, how much better they taste, and how much of a difference they make in your meals.
You don’t have to be a super gardener, or even an outdoor space, to keep herbs. You can easily grow a herb garden in the comfort of your kitchen, even if you usually find other houseplants in your care die after only a few weeks (or days!) of you taking them in. Herbs are pretty easy to look after in comparison, and we’ve put together some simple steps you can follow to be sure they will flourish in your home.
Not only do they make a really pretty feature for your kitchen – adding intrigue to your home and impressing friends and family, they make your cooking taste great. Plus, when you’re growing your own ingredients, you will be in no doubt as to where they come from, and you’ll notice just how fresh and clean they taste.
Here are the top tips for buying, keeping, and using fresh herbs, and keeping your meals tasting delicious!
- Choose your favorite herbs – You want to make sure that you are keeping plants that you will get a lot of use out of. Choosing herbs that you rarely ever cook with will become a pain to look after, and you will end up with way too much! Plus, basil (which is a pretty versatile herb to cook with) is a great ‘trainer’ plant as it recovers well should you forget to water it, and grows quickly, giving you a lot to eat!
- Grow from seedlings – Rather than trying to grow from seeds – you should always start by growing from ready-grown plants. Growing from seeds comes with a lot of complications, especially when they are baby saplings, so buying the herbs that have already grown a bit will make your life much easier.
- Don’t ever plant in Mason jars – As great as this looks on Instagram (#eatclean) the plants won’t look so great after a couple of weeks. Herbs need a proper drainage system to stop the roots from rotting. Unfortunately, not even pebbles at the bottom of the glass are enough – the water must be able to drain away completely.
- Water them regularly – A very common mistake is allowing your plants to get dehydrated. To avoid this, you should water your herbs whenever the soil feels dry. Unlike houseplants, some of which can survive on being watered once a week, herbs do best with a little bit of water every day.
- Choose a sunny location – Light is key to getting plants to grow to their full potential, after all, many of these plants are native to the sunny Mediterranean, so will need sunlight to thrive. Position them beneath your window to give them plenty of sunlight to absorb, and be sure to rotate the pots regularly to give the whole herb enough sunlight to grow.
- Harvest at the right time – You should wait until your plant is mature before you start plucking the leaves away, and never take more than one-third of the plant at one time, making sure that that third grows back before you harvest again.
Harvest the right leaves – It can be very tempting to pick the large, sturdy leaves at the bottom of your plant’s stem, leaving smaller ones at the top to grow, but this is a common mistake many first-time herb-growers make. Those big leaves are the ‘solar panels’ of the plant, the powerhouse behind growth, and the smaller leaves at the top of the plant have a lot of delicious flavor to them!
Also, you should always harvest by plucking off just above a pair leaves – it may seem counter-intuitive at first, but this will allow new growth to occur in the future in that place.
So there you have it. Follow these simple tips and you’ll soon have a thriving miniature garden growing in your home. It can brighten up both your kitchen and your food, and you’ll never go back to dried herbs again. Happy growing!
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