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Fresh herbs can make such a difference to a meal. A sprinkling of freshly chopped basil atop a simple pasta dish or a few sprigs of thyme in a stew can make a huge difference to the flavor. These are so easy to grow but can be disproportionately expensive in-store. Here are ways in which you can start your little kitchen herb garden:
- Soup Can Planters: Planters can be expensive! Save some tin cans and wash them thoroughly. Remove the labels. Now, punch a few holes in the bottom (use a drill if you have one or an awl). These are crucial for drainage. Otherwise, you might waterlog the roots. Place a handful of pebbles at the bottom. Fill the can with potting soil, leaving half an inch on top. Plant basil, oregano, and other herbs and place these on a windowsill that gets plenty of sunshine. You can, of course, paint and decorate the soup cans if you like. You can also use mason jars, but beware- you cannot drill holes at the bottom and therefore should never overwater these.
- Re-propagate scraps: Celery and lettuce can be regrown from scraps. Cut about an inch and a half from the base of a head of lettuce (use the leaves as usual) and dip the base in water. In a week, you can see roots growing. Then, pot the lettuce in potting soil, and it should regrow. Similar methods can be followed for celery, pak choi, even mint, and basil.
- Hydroponic herbs: If you do not like the idea of getting soil into your kitchen, many herbs grow quickly in hydroponic pots. Just water and a little bit of plant food, and voila! You now have herbs without the fuss.
- Ask for seeds or cuttings at your local farmer’s markets: farmers usually know the best sources of plant seeds and might even be willing to sell you their own. They can also guide you to the best potting mixes and soil supplements.
- Hanging planters: If you are strapped for space but still want to grow herbs, look at wall-mounted shelves or macrame pot hangers for your plants. Use vertical space to save kitchen counters. You can also use a little ladder or step stool to house your pots.
- The LED-powered herb grows kits: Several automated planters are now available, which self-adjust light levels and water levels for optimal growth. Though they are a one-time expense, they are convenient and require nearly no attention from you at all.
Most importantly – grow the herbs that you would often use in your food. Mint and basil are so invasive that once you start growing them, you literally won’t be able to get rid of them!