Herbs in the kitchen

If your spice cabinet or garden contains only a minimum of herbs, you are missing out on some of the delightful culinary experiences of life. Once you begin to use fresh herbs in your favourite recipes, you’ll never want go back to using just dried herbs again. You will be hooked for life.
Herbs are one of nature’s little surprise packages that contain a lot of flavour. A little goes a long way. You do not need much to make an extraordinary impact in your cooking.

Fantastic cuisine can be very simply prepared, but add a few fresh herbs and you have created a masterpiece. As you master the art of seasoning with fresh herbs, you will astound family and guests with your remarkable culinary talents.

It’s easy to grow a container herb garden with kitchen herbs that you frequently use. But to be successful, you must know the basics of what herbs need to thrive. If you cook with herbs, there is nothing better than having fresh live herbs on hand whenever you need them. Purchasing fresh cut herbs in the store can be expensive, requires planning ahead, and often leaves you with more herb than you need for the recipe. Growing your own provides a constant supply of fresh cut herbs on demand, and it is easier than you may think.

Herbs and Sunlight

Depending on the amount of light that you have inside your home, you may not actually be able to have your “kitchen” herb garden in the kitchen or even indoors at all. Herbs are tough plants that can withstand drought, heat, sub-optimal nutrient levels and many types of horticultural abuses. But they cannot thrive without very high light levels. Bottom line…herbs require sun, and a lot of it

If you have an area inside your home that receives unfiltered, direct sun for much of the day, you can probably grow your herbs indoors. If not, it’s fine to grow them outdoors, just try to have your container herb garden in a location convenient to your kitchen, such as a patio or balcony. The farther your herbs are from the kitchen, the more difficult they’ll be to access, and you’ll be less likely to use them.

Herbs and Water

Most herbs are drought resistant. They require regular watering, but will weather dry periods better than they’ll tolerate being soggy and over-watered. The aroma and flavour of many herbs actually improves when the plants are exposed to drier conditions.

It is important to provide herbs with good soil drainage. Be sure to use a pot that has holes in the bottom and place some type of material in the base of the pot that will improve drainage, such as stones or packing peanuts.

Herbs and Soil

Use a good quality potting soil that drains well, but also holds moisture, so that the herbs will not be exposed to large variations in moisture level.

Harvesting Herbs

Allow the plants to develop several sets of leaves before you begin harvesting. Herbs will be more robust and bushy if you regularly pinch off the tops at a point just above where the stem branches. Prune in this way even when you don’t need to use any of the herb, to encourage bushy growth. The small amounts harvested can be dried for later use.

As the plants get larger, you can harvest more frequently, and in larger amounts, but always leave a few sets of leaves so that the plant can regrow.