With our ever growing awareness and concern of environmental, welfare and health issues, we are more aware than ever about where food comes from. So what better way to feel utterly confident in your food provenance (and just a little bit smug) than to grow some of it yourself? This doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds, doesn’t require a kitchen garden, or for you to go running off to put your name down on the nearest allotment waiting list. Creating your own stylish indoor herb garden is super easy, and will give you the ultimate warm fuzzy inner glow as you sit down to enjoy a delicious Gousto meal with the addition of your own homegrown herbs.
First thing to bear in mind is plants need light and water to grow, supply these 2 things and your little plant babies will pretty much take it from there. This is why windows are your friend, the short winter daylight hours in the UK mean plants need to be able to soak up every drop of available sunlight. Focus your herb growing efforts around a window area and you are already winning.
The easiest way to dip a tentative toe into the world of the kitchen herb garden is to pick up some herb pots from the super market. If you’ve ever bought these before you have probably noticed that, despite your best efforts, after a few weeks of glory they will fail and die. Worry not, it’s not your fault! In truth they are not really grown to last forever, the plants are too close together and have been forced under grow lights to get them ready to sell quickly, resulting in weak plants. However with a little bit of love, you can turn a couple of slightly bedraggled herb pots into a lush and thriving herb garden.
First, it is worth buying a small bag of peat free multi purpose compost and giving them a slightly larger pot, they will appreciate the extra leg room and the compost will feed them. Resulting in stronger growth. Now you’ve improved the life of the original plant, its time for it to have some babies, this is easiest on basil and mint so start with them and then experiment with other types of herbs as your confidence grows. Cut off a few of the longest stems just above the lowest set of leaves nearest the soil. Pull off the bottom few leaves (not all) from the cutting and place in a glass of water, you just don’t want any leaves to be underwater. After a week or so you will see roots start to appear from the stem, stick it in its own pot of compost and ta-da, you’ve made a new herb plant.
As you get the bug for propagating herb cuttings you may find your window sills start feeling the squeeze. A handy little solution to this is to create a hanging window garden using an over-door hanging storage rack. Available pretty easily and cheaply online, they are designed to hang over a kitchen or bathroom door for storing spices or toiletries etc. If hung over a glass door, or from the top of a window frame etc, they will provide you with rows and rows of growing space that you wouldn’t usually be able to use, plus it looks awesome! Just remember to put a tea towel or similar under it when you do the watering.
If you like the idea of a sexy garnish as well as cooking with herbs then micro greens might be for you. Just sprinkle your favourite herb seed over the surface of a pot of compost. Make sure you keep it moist and in around 10 days you will be snipping of micro herbs to add a sensational burst of flavour to any dish. When you’ve snipped them all just sow a new batch. Herb seed is very cheap and generally contain thousands of seeds, so that’s months of micro greens from a single pack. There are all sort of fancy and quite beautiful products to help you grow micro greens at home, but while you experiment and learn, a good old pot of compost will do just fine!
Growing herbs is an incredibly rewarding thing to do, both from a culinary and wellbeing perspective. Have fun, play without fear and you’ll be an expert in no time.