If you have watched cooking shows on the television or online, you are bound to have seen the chefs picking their fresh herbs straight from the planter pots in their kitchen. Potted herbs are surely a clever investment for the avid home cook, especially when you are able to harvest only what you need (usually a small amount) for the dish that you are preparing instead of purchasing a bunch from the market and leaving the rest of the unused herbs to wither and rot. Should you fancy owning your own little herb garden at home, but worry about not having a green thumb, we have just got the list of best and most popular herbs that you can grow effortlessly and inject the beautiful aromatics and flavour into the dishes you whip up.
Known for its anise-like flavour and intense aroma, the sweet basil is used in many cuisines, like the popular basil minced meat over rice from Thailand and also one of the key ingredients of the classic pesto. It is a good source of vitamin A, K, C and iron, potassium, calcium and magnesium when consumed. Packed with minerals and vitamins mentioned, basil offers medicinal uses when applied topically. This includes anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-arthritic uses. Sometimes as an invigorating and refreshing deodoriser too!
To grow them, you may sow the seed indoors and provide them with ample sunlight, so be sure to clear the space nearest to your kitchen window for your pots to be placed there. Germination takes approximately 5 – 10 days, harvest day would be around 10 weeks later. To shorten the wait, you can start the growth from clippings of another basil plant. Simply plant the basil clipping into the potted soil with its leaves out to start. Snip off the flowers as they appear to boost your basil yield.
Coriander / Cilantro
Before we dive into the what and how of this beautiful herb, let’s clear some confusion that you may have regarding its names. First up, the entire plant is named Coriander. Cilantro is the name used for its leaves. The coriander plant is also known affectionately by many as the Chinese or Mexican parsley. Easy right? Packed with vitamin C and many other beneficial vitamins and minerals, coriander is an excellent source of antioxidant. It is commonly incorporated into dishes for its refreshing citrus scent and flavour profile. It has medicinal uses in easing poor digestion, relieving intestinal inflammation. Coriander seeds are also known to help with lowering blood sugar, promote liver health and improve one’s digestion.
As a bearer of strong, distinct flavour and scent, coriander comes in really useful to heighten the taste of meats, salsa and soups. If you like to add a little heat to your chicken, roasted vegetables and sauces, coriander seeds could be just what you will need to spruce things up.
Try planting your very own coriander/cilantro bush by sowing the seeds and providing them with lots of sunshine and water. Germination will take roughly 7 – 10 days, harvest day would be 3-4 weeks from sowing the seeds. Similar to sweet basil, nip the flowers for better yield. For the cream of the crop to be used for your cooking, harvest the cilantro when the leaves open up for tender stalks. To harvest the coriander seeds, placed the clip the dried brown seed stalks upside-down in a paper bag and leave them in for 2-3 days. The seeds will fall from the stalk pods.
Best with mash potatoes, fish and cream sauces, chives are naturally antibiotic and anti-inflammatory. They can help you keep pests like mosquitos from your plants and home too! They have high sulphur content and a strong pungent smell which gives the dish that you are preparing a good robust flavour. Bonus has it that chives are one of the easiest herbs to grow indoors. They are prolific in their production and they do not need much sunlight to grow and survive. However, do note that they are harder (and not to mention, longer) to cultivate from seeds, so start from a mature plant pot by uprooting on and place it in a new pot of potting soil. This will help you save time and puts a stop to any negative feelings of a missing green thumb. And once you have a large yield of them, try making some herb butter or chive infused oil to add to your pasta, soups, salads or even toasts.
We think that this is one of the best herbs you can have right at home. It is versatile in being in dishes, steeped for tea (a sprig in hot chocolate goes well too!) and even crushed to be a refreshing room scent. It is also an excellent deterrent for many home pests like rodents, ants and spiders. Peppermint is a great addition to give your soups, salads and dessert a touch of invigorating scent and minty taste.
As a herbal remedy, peppermint can help ease muscle tension, soothe a headache and menstrual cramps and also keep cravings at bay by decreasing your appetite. So it is perfect for those watching their weight and looking at shaping up effortlessly.
Grow a pot of peppermint to reap the benefits at home today! Simply germinate the seeds into a container with a moist cotton pad (they germinate better without soil) and place them where you can get abundant sunlight. And then re-pot them into damp soil after they have sprouted. They will mature in 3-4 weeks and ready to be harvest for your use. Enjoy.