Culinary Skills outside the Kitchen:Grow Kitchen Herbs

-Sikuma Rai

Basil, chervil, cilantro, and dill are some annual herbs that are inexpensive and easy to grow from seed. Perennial herbs like oregano, chives, sweet fennel, winter savory, tarragon, bee balm, mint, rosemary, thyme, and sage establish better if you purchase seedlings or take cuttings.

There is nothing more rewarding and easier than planting kitchen herbs nearby your reach. It is just a matter of some space and a little time, and you will be able to get the most out of the grown culinary herbs. Whether it is about being sure about the kind of food your family is going to eat, or it is about saving time and money to go and buy some herbs from a grocery shop, having your own culinary herbs garden is much more advantageous. Also, if you plant in the garden, there will be plenty of herbs with lots of varieties enabling you to use as much as you like of whatever you choose. So, if you are willing to plant it on your own, keep on reading for some help!

Where should we plant?
Planting culinary herbs is easy. Having said that, there are some rules that should be followed to grow healthy plants; sunny spot is necessary to let the foliage grow denser, darker, and with higher levels of essential oils that provide the flavor you want. Also, build a garden near the kitchen door; the closer they are to you when you need them, the more likely you are to use them, while at the same time, be inspired by their beauty and scent at the time of cooking.

Perhaps you also want to plant herbs in either vegetable garden or flower garden. These places are perfect if you don’t want to separate an individual garden for just herbs since many herbs attract beneficial insects in the vegetable or flower garden. It will be convenient if herbs that are used while cooking a specific vegetable are planted together.

Planting herbs indoor or in a container/pot can also be done. Using 6-12 inches deep pot will be perfect depending upon the number of plants you are growing in a singular pot. However, the necessary elements for growth (which are enough sunlight and rich and well-drained soil) don’t differ. So, while trying this one out, remember that it might not be as productive as growing outdoors.

What kind of herbs?
After you fix the location, you need to look for the types of herbs you want to grow. Growing different types of herbs in one pot or location won’t be harmful, but it is better if you can manage different spaces for each. Basil, chervil, cilantro, and dill are some of the annual herbs. These herbs produce seeds each year before dying. They are inexpensive and easy to start from seed. On the other hand, perennial herbs like oregano, chives, sweet fennel, winter savory, tarragon, bee balm, mint, rosemary, thyme, and sage live more than two years and they establish better if you purchase seedlings or take cuttings.

Things to keep in mind:
Use equal mix of potting soil and compost for soil.

Place gravel, broken clay pot pieces, or stones in bottom of pot to ensure drainage.

Only water every other day in the summer, and once a week in the winter when you bring them inside.

Trim and harvest periodically to keep them full and grow faster. But, allow the herbs to get established before you begin harvesting.

Keep your herb plants tidy and send out new growth by pinching and using them regularly.

Provide enough room for perennial herbs to spread out by not crowding seedlings.
Avoid heavy feeding with supplemental fertilizer. The scent and flavor of herbs tends to concentrate when they are grown in slightly lean conditions.

Limit pesticide use to an absolute minimum. If you must spray, use the least toxic solution.

Top 6 Culinary Herbs and their Benefits:
Basil

Helps control blood pressure.

Enhances oxygen carrying capacity of blood.

Rich source of powerful antioxidants.

Parsley
Helps get rid of bad breath caused by onion and garlic; freshens the mouth.

Aids in digestion and boosts immunity against infections and common cold.

Good source of vitamins A and C.
Improves delayed menstrual cycle.

Thyme
Boiled with water and tea, it helps treat throat infections and dry coughs.

A very good source of fiber.

Mint
It is a soothing agent and is used to cure stomach aches.

Mint tea helps eliminate toxins and reduces irregular bowel syndrome.

Chewing mint leaves whitens teeth and combats bad breath.

Rosemary
Its soothing aroma is a great mood elevator.

A natural remedy for migraine.

Anti-bacterial and antioxidant properties in rosemary help cure minor infections and build immunity.

Sage
Aids in digestion.

Highly recommended for inflammatory conditions such as rheumaticarthritis, bronchial asthma, and so on.


Chef’s Take on Organic Herbs
“The latest concept of healthy food is more into ‘fresh and organic’. All chefs believe in serving dishes that contain fresh, currently available ingredients. Freshly grown herbs are essential to bring out the natural flavor of the dishes, whether vegetarian or non-vegetarian. The concept of salad greens with a variety of lettuces and herbs is very popular and essential for chefs to feature regularly in their menu. Many hotels have their own greenhouse. Hyatt Regency Kathmandu too grows its own organic herbs and lettuces.

Lettuces like iceberg, rocket, or arugula, local lettuce, lollo rosso are grown here. Herbs include basil, lemongrass, thyme, rosemary, mint, spring onion, chives, dill, fennel, oregano, sage, and coriander. Organic method of plantation is mostly preferred. Care should be given to the following: selection of plantation area so that water is not scattered during the rainy seasons; seeds should be sown on the ground in steps; they should be evenly watered and covered from direct heat or cold, and regularly monitored for insects and pets. The herbs and lettuce seeds should be stored properly and grown seasonally according to the weather or climatic conditions. Patience and passion should be there to grow an herb garden.”

Subrata Debnath,Executive Chef, Hyatt Regency Kathmandu

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