I love those huge Pinterest worthy kitchens with vertical gardens and windowsills brimming with herbs and spices. So lush it’s almost sexy. I can even smell it. I can even smell those homemade pizzas and Milanese chickens. Today, I am telling you everything you need to know to start growing a few herbs in your kitchen. Plus, I recommend the easiest and most useful species.
The ecosystem in the kitchen
The kitchen is one of moistest ‘ecosystems’ in the house, as a result of the vapor released while cooking. Besides, there are not as warm as other rooms during winter because they are generally very well ventilated and the heating is not as effective. However, if the kitchen is on the small side, there will be abrupt increases in temperature while using the hob or the oven while we cook. None of this has to be a problem for herb growing, but it’s important to keep it in mind to schedule the waterings.
The most important factor for the herbs is the light. Most require full exposure to sun or very well lighted environments, and this is generally hard to achieve if there isn’t a south facing window in the kitchen. Lots of light means at least 4 hours of sun daily. If your kitchen is unsuitable to grow herbs, I would try to place them in another room. Not only are they useful plants, but also have interesting and beautiful shapes and smell great. They could work amazingly well as living or dining room decoration.
Don’t forget about drainage. Water without flooding them; they are sensitive to the excess of water in the roots. Use minimum 1 l pots to allow them to grow healthy and strong.
The best perennial herbs to grow indoors
Perennial herbs have a life cycle lasting more than 2 years. If you are looking for low maintenance, long-lasting plants, try these:
- Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): Requires lots of light and little watering (once or twice a week depending on the environmental moisture).
- Thyme (Thymus sp.): Like rosemary, demands abundant light and not much water. In fact, you can combine them in the same big pot, as rosemary grows tall and thyme is more of a creeping plant. Perfect combination!
- Oregano (Origanum vulgare): It should be called the ‘pizza plant’. Same cares as rosemary and thyme. And remember that this herb can be used fresh, but it’s more common to dry it before sprinkling it in your pizza.
- Mint (Mentha sp): Not as demanding as rosemary, thyme and oregano in terms of light, but it requires a well-lit environment nonetheless. Water it a bit more than the earlier three to keep certain moisture in the soil. 2 or 3 times per week should be fine.
Other herbs worth considering
Some herbs are annual or biannual, that is, they die every winter (or every 2 winters) and we’ll have to plant again. They require a bit more work than perennials, but they are so useful in the kitchen:
- Basil (Ocimum basilicum): This annual plant requires plenty of sunlight and a more or less moist soil (2 or 3 waterings per week without flooding).
- Parsley (Petroselinum sativum): This biannual herb is not so light demanding, but it doesn’t tolerate shady rooms either. Water 2 or 3 times per week with good drainage.
- Coriander (Coriandrum sativum): It’s an annual herb which looks like parsley but tastes soooooo different. Its light and water requirements are the same as parsley, too.
- Chives (Allium schoenoprasum): This annual grass is one of my faves for fish dishes, but I must confess something: I bought a chives pot at the supermarket and couldn’t keep it alive! Most people say it’s an awesome herb to grow indoors because it tolerates a bit of shade, that’s why I include it. The soil needs to be moist, but not flooded. Chives are very sensitive to over watering.
¿Growing from seeds, or buying a potted plant?
Herbs grow relatively fast, so if you are patient, I’d recommend seeds. Why? Well because it’s a lot cheaper and your plants will grow adapted to your house’s ecosystem. Potted plants die as a result of the stress caused when moving them from the nursery to the shop and then to our homes. I bet that’s what happened to my chives!
Did you find these tips interesting? Would you like to know more about a certain herb? Do you know the secrets to dry the leaves to use them later? Investigate! It’s fun!