Growing Herbs Can Support Delicious Vegan Food Prep
Herbs are an integral ingredient with incredible flavor and health benefits for all diets. Veganism, in particular, relies on utilizing these plants in food. They add tremendous taste and nutrition to a dish. As such, growing herbs in your home kitchen is a great way to ensure you’ll have fresh plants year ’round!
Growing Herb Plants in Your Kitchen Is Easy and Fun
The first step in planning you kitchen herb garden is to decide where you want to grow your herbs. Most herbs do well near a south or east facing window. Your herb plants will be happiest in a cool and dry with plenty of sun. Lots of natural sunlight is ideal. Be mindful to keep the plants in a temperature zone of 65-70 degrees F during the day. Finding a good spot for your herb plants helps them to thrive. As such they will provide wonderful fresh herbs for your cooking year ’round.
A key tip in growing herbs is to only plant as much as you intend to use (or give away) at any given time. To remain healthy enough for many harvests, start to cut when they reach the growth of about 6 inches. You should harvest 1/6th of the plant at a time to ensure a healthy and continual growth. Ideally, herbs in cooking are harvested at a “young” age in the plant’s maturity. The more mature a plant becomes, the less aromatic and flavorful the leaves will be (and less desirable for cooking). The regrowth of its leaves can be bitter, thin, and bring the plant closer to its death. It is often best to plan on replacing and replenishing your plants periodically. Keep your plants healthy and you will experience flavorful herbs and avoid bitter ones.
Start Your Plants From Seedlings or Cuttings
Start your garden from seeds or from small plants transferred to a pot indoors. Growing herbs in a pot with drainage holes is best to ensure that the roots do not get wet enough to rot. This is a common occurrence in planting that halts the process and fosters the growth of bacteria. Seeds do well soaked and then potted with a starter potting mix rather than potting soil. Potting soil is thick and poses a challenge for the seedlings to poke through. Herbs don’t need much space, but try and begin planting in a big enough container. Avoid the mess of transplanting more than once or twice. They don’t do so well during the transplanting process, unfortunately.
Growing herbs can also work well from cuttings. The basic method is to take a healthy center stalk of herb and cut it on an angle from the original plant. Remove the leaves from the side nodes and plant the herbs in a pot with drainage holes and a rooting medium. Once the plant establishes roots it will begin to grow and produce more leaves. You can buy organic herb plants in a small pot from local farmers’ market or local greenhouse. Transplant them to a pot in your kitchen and keep the plants indoors. The plants need the same maintenance once it reaches the height to begin harvesting.
Herb Plants Will Eventually Die Back
Flowers growing, also known as bolting, in your herb plants are a sign that the plant is dying. As soon as you spot a bud it should be promptly removed to prolong the life of the plants. Bolting is the natural progression of a plant to create more seeds. It will stop producing the herbs properly and instead focus its energy on growing the flowers. Some plants cannot survive even after you pinch off its buds. In this case it might be best to allow the herbs to mature and begin again with a new plant. For most herb plants, it is advisable just to start over with a new, young plant. Growing herbs in your kitchen is generally an ongoing, ever-evolving process.
Here are some of the herbs you might want to grow in your kitchen!
Also known as bay laurel, bay leaves grow well in a pot in a cool area with not too much sunlight. The seeds take a long time to germinate so this might be a good herb to buy at a stage with seedlings. The seedlings for bay leaves grow quite fast. Adding a single bay leaf to a soup or a stew enhances the flavor. It is an aromatic plant and tends to repel insects due to its fragrance. Stick a bay leaf in your flour, beans, and rice to keep out little bugs.
Dill is a staple herb in cooking and pickling. The leaves and the seeds are both useful ingredients in the kitchen. The herb does not do well with transplanting, so try to grow it in a pot with good drainage. Dill has many uses, one of which is for its use in oral care. Chewing this herb is an aid to sweet breath. It is also rich in calcium so it has positive effects on bone strength. It is important to watch the flowering of the dill plant and ensure it is kept in check.
Basil is temperamental if watered too much. This plant needs daytime hours of sunlight to grow well. It is very happy in sandy, well-drained soil. If the soil is too waterlogged, it can be prone to rotting roots. Basil works in many recipes and has medicinal properties as well. As a member of the mint family, it settles digestive and gastric issues. Basil in essential oil form is toxic to mosquito larvae and works as a natural repellent. It tastes great in many dishes, too!
Rosemary plants have trouble transitioning from constant sunlight to minimal indirect sun. During the winter months, this can be a challenge for the herb. Woody stalks and a dried, dead plant is a struggle for many gardeners. In the weeks before transitioning the rosemary indoors, gradually decrease the exposure to sunlight. You can move it to shadier areas slowly so that it experiences less direct sunlight than outdoors. If the effect is gradual, it will have time to acclimate to less sunlight than usual. Rosemary is popular in just about every course served in a kitchen. It also has incredible aromas that can serve as a natural air freshener. For personal uses, rosemary strengthens hair and decreases body odor. It also serves as a pest and rodent deterrent around the home. There isn’t much this great herb can’t do!
Additional Herbs to Consider Growing Indoors
Chervil, oregano, parsley, thyme, sage, mint, chives, lavender, cilantro and tarragon are some more wonderful ideas for herbs to grow indoors. Switch up your garden every few months to try out different plants and their many amazing uses.
Pests are usually an inevitable part of a garden, both indoors and outdoors. This can also be the case when growing herbs. With indoor herbs, you can wash off the leaves on a periodic basis to remove and uninvited guests. If washing doesn’t do the trick, you can use organic insecticidal soap. Horticultural oil is another method for fending off the bugs and killing the eggs.
It is worth harvesting often to keep your plants healthy even if you cannot use them all in cooking. Try dehydrating your herbs and storing them for emergencies when you do not have fresh herbs on hand. Steep herbs in boiling water for tea, or infuse them in oil for cooking. Many herbs have medicinal properties so check out innovative ways to add herbs to your everyday life.
If you’ve had success growing herbs in your home, please share your experience!