The Ultimate Guide To Growing Your Own Spices At Home
Here at Dining, we use classic spices to give our food a flavour that stays true to culture. Our fresh herbs and spices give the dishes that perfect homemade touch. Some of our favourite go-to ingredients are jeera (cumin), chilli, ginger, and elaichi (cardamom). Not only are these staples in households for flavour, they’ve got great health benefits as well. Ginger is full of anti-inflammatory properties and is a great way to relieve gastric discomfort, and prevent heart disease. Cumin is a rich source of iron, and promotes digestion – not to mention the delicious smoky flavour it brings to dishes too. Chillies, especially green chillies, are packed with vitamins and work to boost metabolism as well.
Longer days, all the flowers in bloom, spring is finally here! This wave of warm weather sets a great stage to get a little bit of a green thumb – starting off easy with some home-grown herbs and spices. Whether you’ve only got a balcony in your apartment, or an empty backyard, any amount of space is the opportunity to get growing. Not only do you get to hone your skills in nursing plants – with love and patience you will be rewarded with fresh ingredients to spice up your cooking.
Here are some of our top growing tips:
Starting Your Seedlings
While it may be gratifying to see your plants grow from tiny seeds, it might be best to get some toddler herbs when it comes to plants with short growing seasons. You’ll be able to enjoy your ingredients much sooner and run less of a risk of your plants dying in infancy. These starters are easily available at garden centres and supermarkets.
Just The Right Amount of Water
Make sure to get pots with a means for drainage to ensure that your soil isn’t staying too moist. While it’s important to stay on top of watering your herb garden, too much moisture can cause roots to rot – having drainage and light ensures that your herbs stay happy. Check the moisture in your plants by poking a finger into the pot, if the dirt is dry an inch below the surface – it’s time to give your plants a little drink. That being said, make sure to be careful to not overwater!
A common staple in Indian and Mexican cooking, coriander (or cilantro, as some call it) makes a great addition to dishes. Whether it’s a garnish on a curry or in some chicken tacos, it’s a fresh flavour that’s hard to beat. Use fresh coriander (and even mint) to make your own homemade chutney to eat with samosas, pakoras, or as a spread for sandwiches. Using a good potting mix and keeping your seeds well-spaced apart, coriander actually thrives in slightly cooler conditions (heat kills the leaves quickly). So for those without as much access to sunlight, this is a perfect addition to your herb garden.
Keep Your Dirt Happy and Healthy
If you’re reusing old soil make sure to remove any dead roots and refresh it with some compost or fertilizer. Top up these fertilizers as the season goes along, around every two weeks or so. Opt for an organic fertilizer and try mixing coffee grounds into your potting mix to give your plants that extra boost of nutrients.
Growing plants can often serve as an invitation for pests to nibble on them, be it insects or squirrels. A simple and natural deterrent for them is cayenne pepper, give your plants’ topsoil a little sprinkle of it to prevent critters from burrowing into the pots, or sprinkle some in the area around your pots. Cayenne is a cheap and effective way to keep pests at bay without having the harmful side-effects of chemical pesticides.
With your own herb garden, the possibilities are endless. Don’t let a lack of space, or even sunlight, deter you from growing some of your own ingredients – there’s plants out there for everybody! You’ll have some delightful plants to spruce up your home and your cooking. Give your plants love, patience, and maybe some cheeky names and reap the delicious rewards of your efforts.