Fresh herbs add a burst of colour and flavour to dishes and it’s quite easy to grow them at home: you don’t need a lot of space and too much maintenance isn’t required. The biggest advantage of having your own garden? You have a supply of fresh herbs and don’t need to rush to the market.First few basics to get started: Choose a place with enough sunlight. You can recycle juice or milk cartons and plastic bottle cut outs to use as pots. Preferably allot one species of plant to each pot because some herbs grow faster, which will affect the growth of the others. Ensure that the pot has holes for the water to drain and you will also need to place a tray beneath the pot to collect water that drains off. Compost your wet waste (vegetable and fruit peels, tea leaves, egg shells, etc.) to get homemade mulch. Mix this with equal amounts of soil to make your own potting soil. Plan which plants you will be growing – this mainly depends on what you cook since most herbs require minimal care.Here are five commonly used herbs which you can easily grow at home:Coriander
It’s hard to imagine most Indian recipes without coriander. This versatile herb works amazingly well both as a garnish and flavouring agent. Spring time (around February and March) is the best time to grow coriander. Simply sow the seeds in a row with a gap of a few inches between them. Keep the pot in a sunny area and moisten the soil. Don’t over water the soil or the plant – every alternate day should work. The shoots should sprout in a week or so.
Mint is extremely easy to grow even without seeds. If the mint stems you bought at the market have roots, you can simply plant those once you use up the leaves. Ensure they are spaced out and have a pot of their own since mint shows prolific growth and can take over the area pretty soon. The refreshing, zingy leaves can be used as a garnish, in drinks and cocktails, chutneys and even biryani.
Methi is best grown in winter: plant the seeds keeping a gap between each one. Water it regularly and you’ll soon see delicate little shoots peeping out of the soil!
Do you love having Thai curry? Then you must try growing lemongrass in your kitchen. The citrus-flavoured herb is essential to Thai cuisine and gives the curry its distinct flavour. It can also be used in stir-fries, cooked with meat and to flavour tea. All you need to do is get a stalk of lemongrass from your vegetable vendor and plant it in a pot. Lemongrass loves sunshine and water, so ensure the pot is kept in a sunny spot and is hydrated regularly.
Aromatic thyme is used to flavour sauces, soups and marinades. It is used while roasting meat or as an ingredient for the stuffing in chicken or turkey. It is easier to grow thyme from saplings which are available at nurseries. The other option is to sow the seeds around six inches apart from each other. Thyme requires mild sunshine and slightly moist soil.
Which herbs do you plan to grow in your kitchen garden?