How to Start a Kitchen Herb Garden with Your Family
There are many ways in which you can boost family wellness. This broad term covers everything from nutrition to spending time together to teaching your kids to take care of their wellbeing. But what if you found an activity that could combine all of these great things? By growing your own herbs together as a family – be it in your kitchen or garden – you can teach your children about gardening, healthy eating and environmental wellness – and have fun doing it! Plus, anything that gets them away from the TV and working with their hands can only be a good thing!
According to consultant nutritionist Charmaine D’souza, author of Kitchen Clinic, ‘A kitchen garden is delightfully easy to maintain, and with it all your ingredients will always be fresh. Called potagers, the more common French term, a kitchen garden is convenient when you’re whipping up a meal and simply need a particular herb. It is also a great stress-buster. A kitchen garden doesn’t require a large plot of land. All you need is a windowsill, an unused corner, or even the stairs—these can all be turned into verdant little areas lush with fragrant herbs and veggies. Container gardens, windowsill gardens, and balcony gardens are good examples for people who live in metropolitan cities and have a paucity of space.’ So where do you begin with your family’s kitchen garden?
1. Space: ‘While planning on growing a kitchen garden, one of the most important things to consider is space,’ D’souza asserts. ‘Even though there is not much space to garden in urban [environments], container-planting is a very easy solution to that. Mark out the area in your house that gets sufficient light and has the space to host a few pots and containers.’
2. Plants: D’souza advises, ‘If your apartment is small, grow plants that are small. You don’t want a plant that grows up to six feet in your one-room apartment!’
3. Lighting: ‘Your garden must get enough sunlight, full or partial sun, to keep the plants healthy,’ says D’souza.
4. Seeds or saplings: D’souza notes, ‘You can either plant seeds [available at your local nursery] or saplings. Both will work.’
5. Start Easy: ‘Start small with herbs such as coriander or spring onions,’ D’souza instructs. ‘They’re easy, they grow fast and the first bloom will give you the encouragement to grow other things.’
6. Soil: ‘Choose the right soil for your indoor garden,’ D’souza cautions. ‘Some soils hold on to water while others are more porous. Ask your local nursery to help you with the type of soil, the amount of water and other such details.’
7. Container Gardening: D’souza outlines, ‘Use plastic takeaway containers, old mugs, old buckets, and wire baskets for hanging smaller plants. Don’t throw away your empty cans and bottles. You’ll be amazed what you can grow in them. Don’t forget to make drain holes in all the pots. When using small containers, make sure that the plants you grow don’t have large roots.’
8. Selecting Vegetables: ‘The two important factors to consider are: which plants can thrive indoors, and which one you can use,’ D’souza details. ‘Decide on the kind of vegetables to grow and plan your space accordingly. Choose vegetables and herbs based on your kitchen requirements, your knowledge of growing them, and the resources at your disposal. Also, grow plants according to season. Planting vegetables as per the changing climatic conditions will ensure that there is a regular supply of vegetables throughout the year. It doesn’t make sense to grow a winter crop in summer, and expect it to thrive.’
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