There’s nothing quite like the taste of fresh herbs in recipes you prepare. It takes about three times as much fresh herb to get the flavour of a dried seasoning, but the taste is so much better. If you’re lucky enough to have an herb garden you can enjoy that great taste as often as you like, but what do you do if you don’t have space for a garden outdoors?
Even if you do have a lovely herb garden outside, what do you do when the weather gets cold? Surely you don’t want to take a break from having access to fresh herbs in the winter.
Fortunately, many herbs are easy to grow in small areas such as a kitchen window sill. They need warmth, sunlight and water, so a kitchen window sill can be an ideal location. If your kitchen doesn’t have enough natural sunlight during the day, you can also place them in rooms with better natural sunlight. Just try to avoid any cold or drafty rooms.
When shopping for herbs for your kitchen window sill, look for ones which will remain relatively small. Those which are too wide or too tall may not fit in the area you’ve chosen to grow them. You’ll also want to consider the type of cooking you do most often and choose herbs which will match that type of cooking.
Here are five herbs to grow in your kitchen window or another warm and sunny spot in your home:
Basil is used in many ethnic foods such as those from Italy, Mexico or Thailand. If you’re preparing a dish with tomatoes, basil is a natural herb to choose. If you love pesto, then you’ll definitely want to grow some basil. There are several varieties of basil to choose from and you can either start them from seed or purchase seedlings.
For more information about growing basil, see: Herb Gardening 101: Growing Basil.
This herb, which tastes like a combination of garlic and onions, can be added to homemade salad dressing, sour cream, soups or burgers. You may want to substitute chives for onions in some recipes to give your food a little different taste. These can be started from seed quite easily. Snipping them frequently will help keep them producing for you over a long period. Just be sure to cut off any chive blossoms that might start (these are edible too!)
For more information about growing chives, see: Herb Gardening 101: Growing Chives.
Cilantro or Coriander
This is another herb which can be grown easily from seeds. Depending upon whether you’re using the leaves or allowing the herb to go to seed, you can use cilantro in Mexican or Indian cuisine. Be sure to keep this herb well-watered.
For more information about growing cilantro, see: Herb Gardening 101: Growing Cilantro.
Mint is a universal herb which is used in a variety of cuisines. It can be added to a variety of drinks, from hot tea and iced tea to lemonade and cocktails.You can also use it as an ingredient in salads, jellies and desserts. It can be started as seeds or seedlings. Just be sure to put in a fairly large pot all on its own, as it is fast growing and will quickly crowd out other herbs plants in the same container.
For more information about growing mint, see: Herb Gardening 101: Growing Mint.
Thyme is often used when cooking meats and other savoury dishes. It is best to start these out as seedlings so you can begin using the herb as quickly as possible, as thyme is quite slow growing to start from seed. Thyme prefers a drier, well draining soil, so be sure not to overwater.
For more information about growing thyme, see: Herb Gardening 101: Growing Thyme.
Seeds and seedlings for the above herbs can be found at most gardening stores, some supermarkets and various sources online. If you choose to grow your herbs from seeds, be sure to follow the instructions on the packet to plant them. Before you know it, you’ll have fresh herbs to harvest and enjoy in your home-cooked meals all year long.