Herbs and spices do not only improve the taste of your meal, but they also provide you with numerous health benefits. The herbs below are probably one of the easiest to grow at home. So, if you have the relish for herbs and spices, plus some extra space and time, don’t wait any longer!
As all plants depend on the sun to produce chlorophyll, it’s important to provide all these herbs some sunlight. Basil is the one that needs most sun, while the others can thrive even in shadier conditions.
As to the health benefits, these herbs are abundant in antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that can fight a number of diseases from halitosis to Alzheimer’s. Apart from the healing properties, there’s another advantage to growing herbs at home and that’s the cost-effectiveness of this endeavor as you will no longer need to spend money on store-bought herbs and spices.
Some of the medicinal properties include:
Basil – antibacterial, anti-stress, efficient against colds and infections, relieves throat and mucus
Cilantro – antioxidants, antibacterial, antifungal, body cleanser, improves heart health, regulates blood-sugar
Parsley – anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, stimulates digestion, stops bladder infection
Lemon balm – anti-anxiety, fights insomnia and indigestion, antibacterial, prevents colds and fevers
Chives – lowers cholesterol and blood pressure levels
Ginger – anti-inflammatory, prevents cold and flu, stimulates digestion and cardiovascular health
Mint – stimulates weight loss and digestion, body cleanser, anti-cancer, antibacterial, and whitens teeth
Although their need for sunlight differs, they all ask for a proper planter. In case you opt for keeping these herbs inside, take caution to get a planter that holds water but drains properly.
Basil is one of the easier herbs to grow indoors, providing you can give it enough light. As with many other herbs, basil is a true sun-lover—give it four hours of light a day, and it will thrive. Container grown basil should be planted in well-drained, nutrient-rich soil. Basil is not water-tolerant, so make sure pots provide adequate drainage.
Basil growing will require fertilizing, pruning, keeping insects away and watering (especially in hot weather). Be cautious that you will cultivate sooner if you start with a starter plant, whereas growing basil from seeds will take longer.
Unlike basil, cilantro thrives in a cooler temperature. This annual plant is actually more dependent on water than sun. You should only water when the soil is dry to the touch, which is more often in the summer months. It’s more important that the watering is thorough rather than frequent, thus make sure water drains out every time you water.
Choosing free-draining potting soil is also quite important. Have in mind that cilantro herbs have long taproots and don’t like to be repotted or disturbed.
Rich in A, C and iron, parsley is perhaps one of the easiest sweet herbs to grow. Parsley thrives in ordinary soil with a substantial amount of sunlight, approximately 6-8 hours of sunlight a day. Make sure you turn the pot every few days to prevent the herb from leaning toward the sun.
Parsley does best when the soil is supplied with humus, preferably from decaying leguminous (beans, peas, clover, alfalfa and others) crops. Although parsley is not water-tolerable, this can easily be avoided with a sunny spot. Improper pot drainage is more likely to be an issue, so if you notice the herb’s leaves become dry, put the planter on some pebbles to make sure water drains onto them. This pebble trick is quite efficient as pebbles not only hold heat well but if combined with water, they also create humidity, vital for parsley to thrive. That’s why growing parsley in the kitchen can be even more successful due to the steam and humidity from cooking.
Although not largely dependent on sunlight, this herb can grow well with only 5 hours of direct sunlight a day. Lemon balm likes a steady supply of water, about three times a week, but good drainage is a must. The plant recovers quickly from a wilt, so it’s better to go wrong on the side of dry rather than too wet, which will encourage root rot.
In harvest time, never remove more than about 25% of the plant’s leaves at any one time. Brown leaves can signify a number of problems, ranging from drafty and cold air to lack of water to excessive sun. Chives
Growing chives indoors offers a handy and easy way to season your food and brighten your space. If it’s provided with the right conditions, your chives can grow all year long. In case you’re a beginner at gardening, cultivating chives from seed can be irritating as well as time-consuming as the sprouts take a long time to grow into a plant.
Chives growing inside should be watered when the soil is dry to the touch on the top. Spread the seeds in a 6-inch clay pot filled with pre-moistened well-draining potting soil. Cover with a ¼ inch of the pre-moistened soil and place in a sunny spot.
Moistening the seeds occasionally until they start sprouting with a mist of water is highly beneficial.
Ginger is a bit more delicate than the other plants as it doesn’t tolerate frost, direct sun or strong winds, which makes it ideal for indoor planting. Ginger loves a sheltered spot, filtered sunlight, warm weather, humidity, and rich, moist soil.
The easiest way to get started growing ginger root is to get a few fresh rhizomes of someone who does grow ginger, at the time when the plant re-shoots anyway (early spring). Otherwise just buy some at the shops at that time. Plant the rhizome (or root) a few inches deep in a mix of compost and potting soil. It’s very important to keep it from chilly drafts, such as open doors or windows. Mist the plant to maintain humidity level.
The best harvest time is when the leaves have died down, which can take up to 10 months, but is totally worthwhile.
Growing and planting mint indoors is easy. You can find mint growing indoors in a pot of soil or even in a bottle of water. For starters, you need a container with adequate drainage for healthy plant growth. This herb likes regular water. Water it well after planting and place it in an area with indirect light.
Harvest mint leaves at any size by pinching off stems. For a large harvest, wait until just before the plant blooms, when the flavor is most intense, then cut the whole plant to just above the first or second set of leaves. In the process, you will remove the yellowing lower leaves and promote bushier growth. Three such harvests per season are typical for mint.