Always wanted to go organic and cook with your own fresh produce? The monsoon’s the perfect time to do something about that wish by starting your own kitchen garden. In this article, we’re going to share tips and ideas on how to help you set up your very own kitchen garden and grow your own herbs and plants that you can use in your everyday cooking.
1. Choosing the place
It’s obvious that plants need sunlight to grow. You have to choose a spot where there’s ample sunlight for your plants. Some plants and herbs however, need partial sunlight. Kitchen windows are the best place to set-up your kitchen garden. Since herb gardens don’t take up much space, small spaces like the windowsill over the kitchen sink will be perfect. Just ensure that the space receives at least 3-6 hours of good sunlight through of the course of the day.
Make sure you use pots that have drainage so that the roots don’t rot or develop mold due to water clogging. Preferably opt for small clay pots since they are easier to maintain and are space savers. Clay pots work best as they are cheap, easily available, come in all sizes and help retain the right amount of moisture. To cut the plant, you can use a simple kitchen scissors. Make sure you don’t cut more than 1/3 of the plant at a time. You can add some color to the pots by painting them and adding labels of the name of the herbs growing in them. You can also use mason jars to grow your herbs and plants. Fill the bottom of the mason jars with rocks or pebbles, allowing at least an inch or two of rocks for water drainage. Adding a layer of activated charcoal to prevent mold growth is also an option you can consider.
3. Choose herbs and plants that you use often
Herbs and plants like mint, coriander, basil, rosemary, green chilies, carrots, lemons, tomatoes, etc. are ideal to grow indoors. Herbs are relatively much easier to grow indoors than plants and sometimes plants don’t grow to their full potential size when grown indoors. For example, the tomatoes grown indoors will not be as big as the ones grown outdoors. Choose herbs like mint and coriander for starters, as these are commonly used herbs in Indian cooking and are easy to grow.
4. Care and maintenance
If you’re starting from scratch, sow your seeds in moistened soil. Cover with a plastic wrap and keep it in a warm area until germination starts. Keep the soil moist, but not soaking wet. Use a spray bottle or tin to water the plants. The watering schedule you follow, depends on your home’s lighting and humidity levels. For example, during summers you need to water the plants more often than during monsoons because of the varying humidity levels. When they become too big, you can repot them in bigger pots, or just trim them.
5. Improving the soil
You can stick to organic fertilizers to improve the soil quality. The easiest way to do it is by using kitchen supplies. You can use items like ground coffee, egg shells that have been dried and grounded to a coarse powder form, and tiny pieces of dried banana peels. Remember, you need to fertilize every month. You can also pick up the readily available fertilizers from plant supply stores or nurseries. When it comes to the quality of the soil, whether your soil is sandy, hard clay or somewhere in between, it can always be improved by adding organic matter such as dried grass clippings, shredded leaves or compost.
If you already have a kitchen garden that’s flourishing, feel free to share your own tips via comments below J