Adding fresh herbs to your cooking makes your dishes all the more delicious! You may forget to replenish the herbs during your shopping sessions or you may just not find fresh ones in your neighbourhood. If this is your biggest cooking woe, then creating your very own herb garden can be helpful. Don’t worry, you won’t need a large garden plot or even a small patch of land for this, as your herb garden can grow just fine in your balcony or on the kitchen window sill.
The first step is to get the pots ready for your herb patch. Taking the right kind of care at this stage ensures you have a flourishing garden. Here is what you need to do:
Choose the right sized pots so that you can fit 4 or 5 on your window sill or in the balcony where sunlight can fall on the plants. Buy the planters with trays to fit so that you don’t have water leaking out and messing up the area. Make sure the pot has enough holes at the bottom to keep water from pooling inside.
Building the layers
Drop a few little pebbles or stones inside the pot to cover the bottom. This will help ensure that water drains through the holes speedily once you have planted your herbs. Fill the pot with garden soil plus compost. Mix the two in equal measure first, on a sheet, and then fill your pot with it. Once filled up to 3/4th of the pot length, pat it down gently to even the surface. Sprinkle some water on the soil and moisten it thoroughly.
Tip: You can make the compost yourself using kitchen waste like vegetable peels, egg shells, stalks, tea leaves etc.
Now you are ready to plant your herb! Take care to keep the roots safe as you place the herb in the pot. Sprinkle some of the soil and compost mixture over the roots to cover them thoroughly, and gently pat it all down to make it even. Plant one herb in each pot to make it easy for you to segregate and maintain them.
Herbs to choose
There are quite a few herbs that you can grow right at home, but here we will talk about the most common ones used in the kitchen:
Growing Mint (Pudina)
Step 1: Order some pudina from your online grocer’s. Keep aside the pudina stalk left over after you have used all the leaves. Make sure the bottom (root) part is not cut off.
Step 2: Just plant the stalk in the pot and sprinkle some water if the soil is dry.
Step 3: Leave it in mild sunlight and soon enough you will see new leaves beginning to sprout in a few days.
Step 4: You can plant 5- 7 stalks in a small pot and see them all flourish.
Growing Coriander (Dhania)
Step 1: Buy some good quality coriander seeds and plant them in a row neatly spaced out in your pot.
Step 2: Do NOT water excessively. Just sprinkling is quite enough if you see that the soil is dry.
Step 3: Once the seeds start sprouting, you will see tiny little shoots emerging from the soil.
Step 4: Do not pull them out until they have had time to grow out a bit and then you can add the freshly grown coriander to your food.
Growing Curry Leaves (Kadi patta)
Step 1: An essential addition to all Indian cuisines, curry leaves grow easily from the stem of the plant. So save the stems when you get the next batch of kadi patta from your grocer’s.
Step 2: The stem cutting needs to be about 3 inches long. Place the cutting in the soil, gently pat down the surrounding soil and moisten it.
Step 3: You can use leftover sour curd as fertiliser for this herb.
Step 4: Kadi patta grows under sunlight, so make sure the pot gets plenty of sun every day.
Growing Chillies (Mirchi)
Step 1: Take a few dried red chillies, break then open and you will find the yellowish seeds inside that you need for growing your chillies.
Step 2: Place them in a seed tray to germinate. Remember, the seed tray must have drainage holes to ensure no water logging happens. Also, plant the seeds so that there is some gap between them. Remember that the soil must be moist and not soggy.
Step 3: Wait until you see the little green seedlings. Once they sprout 4- 5 leaves, move them to your pot and gently plant them in the soil.
Step 4: Chilli plants need regular watering and also good sunlight. With both of these available adequately, they flourish.
So, growing a small herb garden is simple enough if you follow the above tips and get the method right, from the beginning. Purchase all your raw materials from a reliable grocer and soon you will have access to fresh herbs for curries, salads and stews.