When it comes to cooking, nothing beats the taste of fresh, home-grown herbs. Although dried and pre-packaged varieties are convenient, they can be costly and lacking in flavor. The good news is that growing fresh herbs is easy, no matter where you live! Consider these helpful tips to get started:
Which herbs to grow
There are many different types of herbs, so consider which ones you’ll want to use in the kitchen. Popular and versatile herbs include basil, rosemary, mint, oregano, parsley, thyme and cilantro. Browse your local garden center to find the perfect herbs for your garden.
Where to grow them
No garden? No problem! Most herbs require only a few hours of sunlight per day and can thrive even when placed in a windowsill. Potted and boxed herbs are convenient, portable and easy to grow in apartments, townhouses and dorms. No matter where you grow them, however, give each herb its own pot or plot of soil and make sure they’re clearly labeled and easily accessible so you’ll be able to quickly snip a sprig while cooking.
How to care for them
Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or completely lacking a green thumb, herbs are extremely easy to care for. These general guidelines are a good starting point:
- Planting seeds: Fill three-quarters of your pot with potting soil and poke several small holes with your finger. Place four or five seeds in each hole and cover with one to two inches of soil, then water and pat down the soil to even it out.
- Sunlight: Aim for five or six hours of sunlight per day, preferably in the morning, as afternoon sunlight can be particularly harsh.
- Water: Water your herbs every two to three days and mist them daily when the temperatures are at their hottest. Keep the soil moist, but don’t overwater. Be sure your pots or containers have drainage holes to keep your plants from drowning.
- Harvesting and storing: Herbs are best when picked and used fresh, but it may be possible to harvest a larger quantity and store them temporarily. Long-stemmed herbs, such as basil, cilantro and parsley, can be kept like a bouquet of flowers in a small glass of water. Other herbs can be kept in the refrigerator; wrap them in a moist cloth to keep them from drying out. To retain the flavor of your stored herbs, hold off on rinsing them until just before you use them.
How to enjoy them
From mint mojitos to basil pesto, there are many different culinary uses for fresh herbs. Experiment with your favorite fresh herbs to add flavor to your foods, beverages and even baked goods! Have a great recipe that incorporates herbs? Share it with us here!