When you scroll through social media, you’ll see a lot more people posting food creations on their Instagram. Quarantine has turned everyone into master chefs! But why not challenge yourself further, and grow your own herbs? Herbs aren’t just a colourful garnish; they’re also an amazing way to add flavour and aroma to your dishes. Herbs also contain many medical benefits, preventing diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes etc. This is because herbs contain polyphenols, a group of plant-based micronutrients that provide anti-inflammatory and anti-tumour properties for your body.
So what can you grow? Here are some common herbs you might find:
Types: Genveo, Sweet basil, Holy basil, Thai, Lemon, Globe, Cinnamon
Growth: Place a basil seed in moist soil within a well-drained container. Basil sprouts fairly quickly, so you should see substantial growth within a few weeks.
Care: Basils are sensitive to cold, so it grows best in sunny, warm conditions without harsh sunlight. Water when the soil feels dry to the touch, but water at the root and not the leaves as overwatering causes the leaves to rot. Basil does best in well-drained, pH neutral soil.
Harvest: Harvest basil by snipping at a stem where two stem points meet. Clip regularly, so smaller leaves can have a chance to grow. Harvest up to ⅔ of the plant.
Uses: salads, pesto, soups, syrups, pizzas
Types: Miss Jessup, Tuscan blue, Spice Island
Growth: Rosemary needs to be propagated from a cutting. Firstly, snip a cutting from another rosemary plant, about two inches long. Then, place the cutting in 2cm of water within a small container. Situate the cutting in a warm area with a bit of sunlight. After a few weeks, the cutting should have germinated with roots. Transfer into the soil in a pot.
Care: Rosemary is from the Mediterranean, so they like the sun and an arid environment. Grow rosemary in a place where there are 6-8 hours of sunshine in sandy, well-drained soil. Water the herb when it is completely dry; avoid soaking the soil as rosemary can root rot.
Harvest: Whenever you need rosemary just cut off the top 2 to 3 inches of each sprig. Be careful to leave any green leaves and not cut the plant too close.
Uses: rosemary vinegar, poultry dishes, meat dishes, fish dishes
Types: Cleopatra, Greek hot, Spicy Italian
Growth: You can either propagate Oregano from seed cuttings or from seed. If you choose the seed method, lightly press the Oregano seed onto the top of the soil and allow it to grow.
Care: Grow in the soil of slightly acidic ph with full sun and give it about an inch of water per week. Make sure the soil is dry between watering to prevent root rot.
Harvest: Oregano can get leggy easily so it is important to regularly cut and trim the plant. You can harvest leaves or sprigs but make sure to leave one set of leaves so it can regrow.
Uses: vinaigrettes, marinades, oregano oil, pizza, pasta sauce
Types: Common parsley, Italian parsley
Growth: Plant the parsley seed in a pot of moist soil 6-8 inches deep. Parsley can handle cold weather but they do best at 23 degrees.
Care: Place the parsley plant in sunlight and water whenever the soil is dry to the touch. Remember to water evenly!
Harvest: Harvest the parsley when its leaf has three segments. Snip from the outer portion of the plant so the inner parts can continue to mature and produce more baby parsley.
Uses: salad, frittata, steak, hummus, salsa
Types: Peppermint, Native spearmint, Scotch spearmint, Cornmint
Growth: Mint is pretty hardy and relatively low maintenance so just place the mint seed in slightly acidic soil and you’re done! Your mint plant will be able to withstand a wide range of environments.
Care: Mint does best when you grow them in indirect sunlight, but they like the shade as well. Add water when the soil feels dry; make sure their soil is consistently moist with good drainage for best growth.
Harvest: Harvest mint when the plant have stems 6-8 inches tall. Snip stems and sprigs as needed. However, whenever you notice the stems getting longer and the leaves growing short, shear the plant until its ⅓ to ⅔ its original height to give it a chance to grow new foliage.
Uses: tea, salad, pesto, smoothies
Sources: Healthline, Washington Post, TheKitchn, Alamac, TheSpruce, ThompsonMorgan
Written by: Kadence Wong