The Easy Guide to Going Green
Growing your own herbs.
Authentic 22nd Dec, 2020
As many of us become more environmentally conscious, people are starting looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint and use of plastic. One way of doing this is growing your own. This leads to less miles on the clock in going to the supermarket and no plastic packaging, plus homegrown tastes great. However, not everyone has the space to grow their own fruit and vegetables, particularly in a flat, or if you don’t have a garden. That isn’t a problem with herbs that can be grown in tiny spaces on windowsills, plus they are a much easier introduction to going green. Whether you love rosemary with your chicken, basil and thyme in your ratatouille, or a cup of mint tea, growing your own herbs can add real flavour to your cooking. Follow these simple tips and you’ll be cooking up a storm in no time.
Anyone can grow herbs, from novice to gardening guru, seriously, even if you ‘always kill plants’! To start the easy way, look in your supermarket vegetable sections for a mini pot of your favourite herb/s. Then follow the tips and tricks below and never look back.
The golden rule is do not overwater. That’s why most indoor plants die. Avoid this trap by pressing your fingers to the soil, if it sticks to your fingers/feels really wet, the plant doesn’t need watering (tip 3 below helps with this). If you’re not sure, you’ll know a plant has been overwatered when the soil starts to go green. That’s algae, if this happens don’t panic. It will only be the top layer, just remove the green soil, replace it with new compost and give it the tiniest splash of water.
On the other side of the coin, if the soil goes grey or cracks and dries out completely, you are under watering the plant. Just follow the tips below and you’ll be fine.
Use a pot with a hole/holes in the bottom and put in a shallow dish:
a. This stops water leaking everywhere.
b. It stops overwatering – never leave any water standing in the dish, the plant should absorb it all. If it doesn’t pour it away and don’t water again until the soil feels fairly dry. This keeps water draining and also stops roots from rotting.
Feed the soil:
Plants outside get nutrients from the earth, indoor plants don’t. You can buy specialist fertiliser but liquid tomato plant food works on most herbs and is easy to find in supermarkets. Just add to water (instructions will be on the bottle) and use once a month.
Most plants need direct sunlight – pop them next to a window. Try to avoid putting them above a radiator as this will dry out the soil and roots.
Watch out for bugs:
The most likely culprits are aphids (blackfly/greenfly), you can’t miss them flying around your plant. Just thoroughly spray the plant with lukewarm, soapy water and put outdoors for 2-5 days, re-spraying daily until they have gone (don’t leave out overnight). You also need to kill the one’s in the house with flypaper/spray etc. The little monsters usually come if the plant isn’t getting enough ventilation so you may need to move it/open a window.
Finally, don’t be afraid of cutting off the leaves and cooking with them, more will grow back, faster in Spring/Summer, slowing down in Autumn/Winter.
A Detailed Breakdown For 4 Popular Herbs:
Basil & Mint
Grows well in full sun and part shade. Most windowsills would work.
1. Needs 3-4 hours of direct sunlight per day.
2. Water fairly frequently, especially the mint – check the soil a few times a week, daily in warm weather and make sure it stays moist, but not wet, at all times.
3. Harvesting – basil and mint will grow Spring-Autumn, die back a little in winter and come back the following year, plus you can freeze the leaves to use year round. Rinse in cold water, shake dry, chop up and pop in an ice cube tray, add water and freeze.
Rosemary & Thyme
Put in a warm place; south facing window sills, conservatories and French windows work well.
1. Needs 6 hours of direct sunlight every day.
2. Water sparingly – check twice a week but only water when the soil feels dry.
3. Harvesting – these herbs are evergreen and grow year round. Leaves can be used fresh or dried.
So what are you waiting for, get green fingered and you’ll soon have fantastically flavoured food. As an added bonus, you can also feel that warm glow of knowing you are being environmentally friendly!