Fresh herbs add a wonderful flavor to home-cooked food, and are so much more delicious than the dried alternative. But buying fresh herbs from the grocery store gets expensive, and the leaves soon lose their flavor. Growing an herb garden in pots, either inside or out, is an easy and cheap way to have a constant supply of great-tasting fresh herbs. In most areas, indoor herbs will grow all year round. Here are some simple tips for homegrown herbs and delicious food and herb pairings.
5 Tips for growing fresh herbs
Fresh herb tip #1: Choose a proper containerHerbs can grow in all kinds of containers, from standard plant pots to recycled containers. If the herbs are indoors, pick nice-looking pots, or give them a funky look with recycled kitchen items, such as colanders, food cans or cutlery drainers – in fact anything that looks good and has drainage holes or can have them added. Water regularly but don't let the compost get too wet, or let the pots sit in water, and don't forget to put saucers underneath indoor pots to protect tables, window sills and work surfaces.
Fresh herb tip #2: Use good potting soilWhether the containers are inside or out, use potting soil, not dirt from the garden – it will be less likely to compact in the pots and will reduce the chance of pests and diseases.
Fresh herb tip #3: Grow in a sunny place and clip oftenPick a sunny windowsill for an indoor herb garden – in the kitchen, if possible – and keep using the herbs, because clipping off shoots and leaves will help the plants to grow strongly, and keep them compact and bushy.
Fresh herb tip #4: Grow a variety
A great many herbs will grow in pots – here are just a few to start.
Recipe: Chilled Watermelon Cilantro Soup
Recipe: Herbed Pasta with Toasted Walnuts
Recipe: Salmon Roulade
Recipe: Watermelon and Feta Salad
Recipe: Ricotta Gnocchi and Sage Butter
Recipe: Shrimp and Basil Wontons
Recipe: Rosemary Flower Biscuits
Recipe: Thyme and Boysenberry Scones
Fresh herb tip #5: Eat and enjoy the flavorful benefitsIn addition to the above tips for each herb, there are many more ways (and reasons) to incorporate fresh herbs into your everyday meals. Fresh herbs make a cheap and caffeine-free alternative to tea and coffee, and some offer super health benefits, too. For example, chamomile tea is supposed to help sleep, dill seed or peppermint tea may help digestion, and lemon balm tea might relieve headaches and is being studied in Alzheimer's disease. (Click for the super health benefits of seven spices and herbs.)
Simply use your culinary creativeness to liven up your meals with fresh herbs grown right in your own home garden. Once your creative juices are flowing, the delicious possibilities are near endless.
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