Other than a perfect set of knives, a variety of pots and pans, and about every kitchen appliance out there, there is nothing a home cook wants more than fresh herbs right at her finger tips. Imagine only having to reach out to grab a bunch of fresh, fragrant basil to add to your tomato pasta. Or being able to take whole, fresh sprigs of thyme and placing them in the cavity of a soon-to-be roast chicken.
Of course, store-bought herbs work just fine, but they’re not at all practical: they’re pricey and have a short shelf life. Not to mention, each herb variety’s availability may vary with each season while others are never on hand.
Even with all these considered, it’s quite understandable why not many home cooks have their own herb gardens at home. It’s difficult to see how growing your own at home would be easy, knowing their delicate state. And given our extremely warm climate, an herb plant might not survive under such unforgiving weather conditions. But thanks to your local gardening store, you can already skip a few steps of the process. All you have to do now is care for them. Here’s how:
Keep herbs indoors
This may come as a surprise, but your herb plants will prefer the inside of your home as shelter. Although plants do need sunlight, too much exposure will dry them out almost immediately. Look through your home for a window with plenty of good, filtered rays. If you do decide to care for your plants outdoors, you might have to move them around throughout the day to make sure they’re not under the sun entirely. If you keep them indoors, you can permanently position them on a sunny windowsill.
Allow for plenty of moisture
Give your plants a regular shower under the sink to keep them happy and healthy, especially during warmer weather. Another trick to keep your plants nice and moisturized is to keep them in coated or plastic containers. Clay pots, when exposed to heat, tend to dry up any moisture.
As threatening it is to a plant to deprive them of water, too much water can spoil them, too. Stagnant water, when kept too long, will rot plant roots. Make sure your container has a good drain to allow excess water to flow right through. Don’t forget to place your plants over a saucer to catch the excess water. You don’t want your herbs to ruin your beautiful wooden windowsill.
Choosing the right herbs
Of course, our hot and humid climate might not allow just any herb plant to thrive, but there are many plants that can withstand the heat. Basil, garlic, chives and lemongrass can grow perfectly fine in tropical weather. Other plants include cilantro, coriander, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary and thyme (among others). Thee necessary care for each may vary but you can probably gauge it just by observing them.
This story was originally published in Northern Living, May 2014.