Homegrown Herbs & Spices

Tasty, delicious and flavourful home-cooked meals are something we all look forward to coming home to. They say the secret to a delicious home-cooked meal is love. As true as that is, herbs and spices are also the ingredients we turn to for the right blends of tastes, colours, and aromas.

Karen Washington, food activist and farmer, says “No matter how small or how big, the fact that you can control even part of your food system by growing, nourishing, and harvesting something is a powerful act.”

Why not grow your own? Let’s explore why you should consider growing herbs and spices, choosing which ones are right for you, and how to care for, as well as use them!

 

Why Grow Your Own?

Growing your own food is a big step in living sustainably, even Oprah Winfrey has been doing so for years.Our living situation here may not be ideal for a big garden like Oprah’s, but we can start with just a windowsill herbs and spices garden. There are so many benefits that you can gain from having your own micro garden.

 

Save money

 

Though accessible, herbs and spices can be quite pricey, especially the organic ones. Growing them in your own home can help you cut down on your produce shopping for the month.

Depending on how often and what you cook, the use of herbs and spices can be limited. The remaining store-bought herbs and spices will go to waste if not used within a certain time frame. Homegrown herbs and spices will stay fresh in their pots and you can use them whenever and however much you like.

 

Freshness and quality

Store-bought herbs and spices may not be as fresh as we think. In fact, the dried ones may be highly processed. There are many factors that would be required to help store-bought herbs and spices remain fresh for longer periods of time. This includes how they are grown, how they are packaged, and how they are stored.

With homegrown herbs and spices, you can be assured of their freshness and quality as you have full control over reducing or even avoiding the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides while you grow them.

 

Which Ones to Grow

If you are new to gardening or planting anything, starting your own little herb and spice garden can be an overwhelming process. Here’s a quick rundown on what you’ll need to know and which ones are more suited for you.

 

What do you like to cook?

Before picking out the herbs and spices you’d like to grow, ask yourselves, what do I cook more? For example, if you and your family tend to eat more Indian dishes, then herb plants like curry leaves, and spices like ginger and cumin, might be perfect for your garden.

You can also opt for more versatile kinds of herbs and spices that can be used in varied types of cuisines. Herbs like coriander, basil and rosemary can cut across all kinds of foods, from Thai dishes to Italian dishes. As an Asian country, a lot of the spices that we use are similar. So consider growing your own chillies, ginger, spring onion and curry leaves.

 

Climate, sunlight & space

Other factors to consider are our tropical weather, amount of sunlight you should provide and where you’ll be growing your garden. Tasha Greer, a spice grower and author, says “There are definitely variations in conditions and it’s important to look at each plant individually and figure out how to give that plant what it needs.”

Our hot and humid weather means that certain herbs and spices may not be ideal to be grown here. Also, the temperature of your herb garden needs to be factored in. Do you plan to grow them indoors in the kitchen or outside on the balcony? The temperature for each space will be different.

If you plan to grow your herbs and spices indoors, find an ideal spot that will give your plants at least 6 hours of sunlight. If the space you have does not get direct sunlight, keep a schedule to move them anywhere they can get it, every day.

 

Seed, stem cut or division

There are plenty of ways for you to start planting your plant babies. You can begin with seeds, stem cuttings or divisions from a cluster.

With seeds, you can collect seeds from fresh vegetables like chillies, or healthy mature plants like fennel or cuminum. You also have a choice of getting store-bought seeds from the nursery.

One of the best ways to grow an herb or spice plant is through a stem cutting. This can be done by cutting a section of a green stem, removing some leaves and placing it in water until it starts to grow roots.

Propagating a plant through division is to grab a cluster of plants by the root ball and replanting them in several separate clusters. This however, means you might need to have a full-grown plant to begin with.

 

How To Use Herbs & Spices

 

Now that you’ve managed to grow your own herbs and spices, you might wonder how you’ll make full use of them. Well, here are some handy tips you could follow to use your homegrown herbs and spices in your cooking and more.

 

Cooking

In terms of cooking, there are many ways for you to use your herbs and spices; fresh, dried or frozen. Different recipes call for different conditions of the herbs and spices.

One of the easiest ways to make use of your homegrown herbs and spices is by incorporating it in a salad. Fresh coriander, spring onion, and mint are just some of the herbs and spices that will go great in a salad. Top it off with some Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil, you’re good to go!

You could also incorporate your homegrown herbs and spices in your rice dishes. Making your favourite chicken rice can be nutritious too with fresh ginger and garlic and Brown Rice.

You should also remember that aside from flavour, herbs and spices also lend their great aroma and health benefits to your cooking. Be sure to take that into account when you are using it in your cooking. For instance, you may not need as much flavourings when using easy-to-use pasta sauces, but something like thyme or oregano would pair well with the sweet and savoury  Naturel Organic Tomato with Pepper Pasta Sauce, while also giving it an inviting aroma.

 

Non-cooking

The use of herbs and spices is not limited to just in the kitchen. Aside from cooking, herbs and spices could still share their benefits for your overall well-being through all sorts of methods. For example, you could make an au naturel hair rinse by mixing one part Coconut Cider, 5 parts water, and infuse it with hair-benefitting herbs like rosemary, thyme, nettle, or sage.

You could also incorporate fresh herbs and spices into your beauty regime, like making a face mask with Coconut Oil and turmeric. 

Other than beauty, you could use your fresh herbs and spices to liven up your home and give it a fresh scent. Rosemary is one of those herbs that has a strong aroma and smells great. You could incorporate it when making your own homemade candles.

Lemongrass is also known to keep your home insect and pest-free. Using its essence when cleaning your home’s surfaces will keep pesky bugs away and keep your home smelling super fresh.

 

 

Making your cooking more flavourful and tasty will be an extra rewarding feeling when the ingredients are grown by you. You’ll be filled with pride and joy that you are making sure your family is getting the best, healthiest and delicious ingredients for foods they enjoy.

Don’t worry if you have green thumbs or not because you’ll never know until you try. Tending a small herbs and spice garden in your own home is a great start. Who knows, you might even have your own allotment one day!