- by Cindy
Herbs are necessary for creating flavorful and beautiful dishes. They add aromas, flavors, and garnishes which can take your dishes up to the next level. There are plenty of herbs gracing garden centers near you which are easy to grow and maintain in your own kitchen, giving you, essentially, a lifetime of flavor after your initial purchase. In this article, we’re going to let you in on some of the best herbs to grow, and the best ways to keep them happy and healthy in your home so they’re ready for use whenever you need them.
Perennial herbs are the easiest to grow and maintain in a typical kitchen climate. These herbs can easily be found at a garden center, or started from cuttings rooted in a glass of water. These particularly easy herbs include thyme, chives, mint, oregano, and rosemary. Basil, chervil, and cilantro are all also easily maintained, however, they are best to purchase as seeds and nurture through sprouting. These three also require planting throughout the year.
Before purchasing the herbs, if you choose to get them from a garden center, there are a few maladies which are common and you want to look out for in order to ensure you’re getting the most life out of your plants. Aphids are small insects which harm plants and are particularly common on basil. They feed on the leaves and cause the plant to slowly deteriorate. The insects themselves are almost invisible to the naked eye with adults only growing up to 1/4 of an inch, so you want to be aware and cognizant of the warning signs. Sticky droppings around the plants are a telltale sign of aphids (or scale — either way, avoid plants that display this). Aphids can also cause curling and yellowing of leaves. Check the underside of the leaves to see if you can spot any Aphids. The leaves themselves should not be sticky either. Furthermore, you want to steer clear of plants exhibiting fine webs on and between leaves. This is a sign of spider mites, and while you can wash these plants and debug them, it is always much easier to simply find and start with a malady-free plant.
Herbs require natural light and free moving air. South-facing windows are the best choices for winter months as they boast the brightest light for the longest amount of time during these months. These windowsills should be stocked with plants of semi-tropical origins, such as basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme.
East and West-facing windows get bursts of bright light from the sun for about six hours at the beginning and end of the days respectively, but are mostly cool and shadier during the peak of the sun. Chives, mint, parsley, and chervil thrive in these indirect light conditions.
No matter which window your plants are sitting in, make sure they have enough room in between them to ensure airflow and even exposure.
Herbs should be placed in pots with good drainage. The pots should be able to dry out to an extent in between waterings. Slowly water the herbs to ensure that the actual plant is receiving the hydration and you’re avoiding the water simply running through the soil to the bottom. A couple times a week should be enough for your herbs, and you can test the dryness of the soil with your finger. If your finger is able to sink around 2 inches into the soil without contacting moisture, it’s time to water your herbs. If your herbs seem to be requiring more frequent waterings, you could be in a home with low humidity levels, or your pot could be too small. Additionally, the ideal home temperature for your herbs is 60-70 degrees.
Herbs are extremely simple to maintain and are adorable and delicious additions to your kitchen and food. Each herb should be potted alone and should be given their correct dose of sunlight, and in no time you’ll have thriving plants which will bring joy to your eyes and tastebuds.
One last tip — pet your plants. It sounds weird, but gently grazing the tops of the herbs can simulate the movement of wind and can encourage growth!
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