Plucking fresh herbs directly from your own garden is a source of ultimate pleasure for many home cooks.
Having access to herbs right in the kitchen is even better. This is why many herb gardeners have decided to create their own countertop herb garden.
Since ancient times, many cultures have enjoyed growing herbs in their homes. Herbs are popular not only for their culinary uses, but also for their applications in homeopathic recipes and other benefits such as stress management.
How to Start a Countertop Herb Garden
The first thing to decide is where to grow the herbs. You will want to look for a location that has more controlled conditions and fewer temperature fluctuations.
Most often the kitchen is the best location for your counter top garden since it provides ready access. However, if your kitchen is subject to a wide variation in temperatures from a drafty window or does not get enough light, you may find the living room or family room to be a better choice. Many prefer to grow herbs where they can enjoy their fragrance and beauty such as a home office or reading room.
The good thing with small spaces is that it makes it easier to control temperature, light, humidity, and circulation. In this regard, access to your herbs is very important and has a bearing on how successful your herb gardening will be.
Once you have decided on the location, you will want to source your garden plants. You can fill your countertop herb garden with your favorite varieties of herbs, purchase a home gardening kit or grow the herbs from seeds.
Herb garden kits make the process of establishing the garden easier. The market offers different varieties of the kit that one can choose from depending on need and preference. One example is the AeroGarden pictured to the right.
If you prefer to do it yourself, you can choose young herb plants or grow the herbs from seed. Here is a simple process to create your own herb garden from seeds.
- Soak the seeds in water for some hours
- Assemble the soil and containers
- Sow the herb seeds, covering with plastic to ensure the soil stays moist.
- Remove the plastic once the seedlings emerge. Make sure they have plenty of light at this stage so the seedlings don’t grow too tall too fast. You can use a Germination Lamp to increase the light your herbs receive.
- Once your seedlings have 2 or more true leaves, you can finally transplant the plants.
Maintenance and Care of a Counter Top Herb Garden
Growing herbs indoors is not difficult at all. They do however require enough sunlight and a bit of care. It is, therefore, important that the home herb gardener gains a good understanding of how to establish and manage a countertop herb garden.
The gardener is required to pay attention to the herbs by watering and caring for these plants. A nearby water source should be safe, convenient, and functional. You can purchase self-watering pots, use watering spikes or simply keep a small watering can nearby.
If you need frequent harvests, intense light is important. Not providing enough light is one of the most common mistakes made by indoor herb gardeners.
Provide a Good Light Source especially for young herbs
Bright light stimulates the oils of the plant bringing out the best flavor. In addition; strong light will determine how sturdily and quickly the herbs grow. Short, stocky plants are much preferred to tall, leggy plants that have put all their energy into reaching for the sun.
Take care to Water your Herbs
Knowing when to water the herbs is very important. The best time to water is when the surface of the water feels dry. One needs to have containers with holes in the bottom for proper drainage.
Fertilizing your Mini Herb Garden
When the herbs have been in a container for over ten days, it is time you start feeding them. Similarly, one can give an additional boost to the herbs by using B1 plant mix. Fish based fertilizers are a good choice for herbs.
The smart herb garden has a new technology that will manage the amount of water light and fertilizer your herbs receive, even when you are away on vacation.
Create Logical Groupings For Your Herbs
As a general rule, it is advisable to keep similar herbs together. This is because different types of herbs may require different growth conditions.
Growing multiple herbs in one pot will require that you trim them frequently to make the garden healthy and allow enough air circulation around your plants. In addition, the best way of sustaining a supply of herbs throughout the season is by laying an emphasis on the general quality of the herbs.
Cooking Tips or Ideas
Herbs can stay green or fragrant for a week or two after clipping. Preparing fresh herbs can be done through stripping or snipping. The stripping method is used with woody herbs such as rosemary or thyme. Hold the cut herb by the end and pull your fingertips toward the tips pulling off the leaves as you go.
Snipping is another method of harvesting fresh herbs. This is the preferred method for leafy herbs such as parsley or mint. Simply use a small set of scissors or your fingertips to pinch off young stems. Trim from the top or outer edges first.
Some herbs go with specific types of foods. Grow the types of herbs based on your favorite types of dishes. Basil is a popular choice for Italian and Greek cuisine. Rosemary and bay leaves bring flavors to soups and roasted veggies or meats.
Other herbs can be used as a sprinkle to decorate food. Curly parsley is a very popular garnish adding a touch of class to any plate.
Benefits of a Countertop Herb Garden
Growing herbs on your kitchen countertop comes with many healthful, physical, and monetary rewards.
First, one can provide the family with culinary delights knowing they are free from chemical fertilizers and pesticides. You can control the conditions of the soil and the growing methods, and thus ensuring a completely organic and natural result.
Second, seasoned gardeners continue to appreciate the physical and mental benefits of herb gardening. Herb gardening is important in stress management. It offers a relaxing and meditative environment.
Third, it is an alternative for shopping for fresh herbs. Rarely will you find everything that you are looking for in your nearest grocery store. Growing herbs at home allows you to enjoy many more varieties of fresh herbs such as Thai basil or Orange scented thyme.
Lastly, it is a cost-effective method that can reduce the grocery bill each month. Dried and fresh herbs can be overly expensive. The cost is even higher for organic herbs. Quantities sold in the store are often much larger than is needed for a specific recipe. Consequently, one is forced to buy what will not be consumed. Most dishes only call for a few tablespoons of fresh herbs.
There is nothing as quite so nice as the convenience of snipping a few needed herbs directly from your kitchen garden and incorporating them into your daily cooking. The countertop herb garden is a perfect way to have fresh, healthy herbs always on hand.