Green Thumbs: Herb Gardening
Have you ever been in a situation where you’re binge-watching your favourite competitive food show and you find yourself hungry, not for your plain old everyday food, but for something beautiful and light and fresh, but still packed with flavour to satiate the piquancy that your palate so desperately yearns for? But when you head to your kitchen to create this flavour concoction, you find yourself completely incognizant to how you could even begin to brew this blend? Worry not because, in this edition, Hobbyist takes a look at indoor herb gardens, and how easy it is to have an almost endless supply of renewable flavour resources, right there in your kitchen.
How to Get Started
Herbs are among the easiest plants to grow. Most herbs love the sun, so all you need to get started is a nice, sunny place in your home for them. Growing herbs at home can ensure that they are organic and do not contain pesticides and herbicides used in herbs grown commercially.
Choose a container with ample drainage holes and one that is large enough to accommodate the roots of the plants. You can also happily grow herbs in empty milk cartons, juice cartons, plastic bottle cutouts etc., as long as you make holes on the bottom for water drainage, and don't forget to place a tray under the pot that will collect and drain off excess water.
Make your own potting soil by mixing 1 part ordinary garden soil with 1 part homemade compost. Compost can be made from wet waste from your kitchen like tea leaves, egg shells, vegetable peels and stalks, and coffee grounds. When properly composted, they make fantastic mulch for your herbs to thrive in this compost, and in addition, it also reduces the waste you produce, reducing your carbon footprint.
The Whos and Whats of Herb Gardens:
Most herbs grow best in bright sunlit locations. Regularly rotating the pots, with respect to the source of light ensures that the herbs don’t bend in one direction. If your herbs have long stems with few leaves, then they probably aren't getting enough light.
Water each herb according to its individual needs. To make this easier, plant herbs with similar watering requirements together. Test the soil before you water your herbs to prevent over-watering by inserting one finger up to the knuckle into the soil to test for dryness. Water your herbs depending on how dry the soil is as soggy soil quickly leads to root rot. Therefore it is important to not let water accumulate at the bottom of the pot. One of the first signs of over-watering is leaves turning yellow.
Air movement is necessary for herbs as herbs grown in stuffy conditions often become weak and attract pests.
Fortunately for your tummy, even young herb plants require frequent clipping to encourage newer, fuller growth, so make sure to prune often but never cut more than a third. If your herbs start to flower, they need to be pruned more regularly. The more you prune, the more they will grow.
Healthy basil grows really fast, and if you find yourself with an abundance of basil, why not try a fresh basil pesto? Recipe here.
We asked hobbyist gardener, Shivaani about her experience with herb gardens, “When I started growing my herbs, I started off with basil, thyme, and rosemary. The basil and rosemary thrived, but the thyme was unfortunately killed off by an eager pair of pigeons that decided to make the thyme their nest and laid a couple of eggs right in the plant. The thyme didn't make it, and unfortunately, neither did the eggs”, she said. Well, you win some, you lose some.