Culinary herbs are essential to creating tasty homemade food.
I add fresh basil leaves to my tomato sauce every time I can. Rosemary goes with roasted meat, parsley on the potato salad, origanum on the pizza, and mint…that goes in my mojito!
Having the dried ingredients stored in your cupboard isn’t the same thing as adding them fresh to your dishes.
I love to keep my culinary herbs in the back yard. Still, I’ve realized not everybody can enjoy a large green area where to grow vegetables.
So I copied the easy and decorative solution some friends of mine are using: keeping some culinary herbs on the balcony.
Growing plants on your balcony is a great idea to have fresh herbs to use for cooking and, at the same time, decorate your home.
If you don’t have a balcony, you can keep them on the kitchen window.
As rosemary seeds might take long to germinate, you’d better buy a young plant and plant it in spring or autumn.
To grow your rosemary on the balcony, you will need a pot with at least 12 inches in diameter and a drainage hole.
Place some rocks at the bottom of the pot and add oil-based, peat-free high-quality compost.
Water your rosemary every time the soil gets dry and let the water drain away.
This plant doesn’t need a lot of fertilizer, a little bit of it will be fine during the growing season; after the flowering, cut some stems to prevent the plant from turning messy and woody.
Rosemary loves sunbathing but needs protection from the cold. It can be harvested all year long, wash the dust away, and place it in the oven with your favorite meat!
Contrary to rosemary, basil can be quickly grown from seeds. From February to March or from the end of May to early June, you can sow your basil seeds.
Place them in a pot with humid peat-free multi-purpose compost and store it in a warm and protected place with no direct sun, or it will burn the young leaves.
Basil plants need a lot of water; remember to spray them each day, better in the morning, and not on the leaves.
Once the plants are grown, you can move each of them into another vase.
When the temperature rises, in the early summer, you can move your vase outside in the direct sun. Keep watering it daily, making sure the soil drains well the water.
You can pick the leaves after a month of growth, and once they have a vibrant green color.
Basil is an annual plant, so it won’t survive winter, but you can move it inside in September, when the temperature drops, to enjoy the last green leaves.
The mint is a perennial plant. There are different varieties of it; the most common is peppermint, known for its intense and pleasant scent.
You can either sow your mint in spring, cut a vegetative apex to plant later, or buy a young plant at the store.
Whatever option you decide to choose, you will find mint super-easy to grow as it easily adapts to any climate. As the mint likes to grow, pick a big pot, put some rocks on the bottom to allow drainage, and use some multi-purpose compost.
Place the mint in full sunlight and give it the right quantity of water but not on the leaves. Keep it sheltered from heavy rains.
To help your mint grow and stay healthy, add some fertilizer every 2–3 years during the spring period, favoring a mineral fertilizer based on potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen.
Periodically remove dry branches and leaves to keep the soil clean and avoid it to rot.
Harvest your mint in summer and enjoy it in fresh drinks or exotic teas.
Parsley is a biennial plant and one of the most popular culinary herbs to grow in pots.
Sow your parsley seeds in a large and deep pot as its roots like to go deep.
The soil should be organic-rich and moist. Be patient as the parsley might take about a month to germinate. In the meanwhile, keep pouring water into it to maintain the soil moist.
The parsley doesn’t like hot temperatures and prefers a temperate climate. You can place it in a sunny spot but move it to a dim light area during summer.
It will take up to 80 days to get ready to be harvested, and once cut, it grows back and produce new fresh leaves.
Oregano is a hardy perennial plant that returns year after and doesn’t require specific attention. It is perfect for your first-time pot garden!
Notice that the bigger is the pot, the bigger it will grow. Place it in a vase of at least 12 inches in diameter and be aware it can grow up to two feet tall and 18 inches transversely.
To sow your oregano, put a layer of expanded clay or gravel, which allows any excess water to drain quickly at the pot’s bottom. Then fill with moderately fertile soil, better if integrated with a little sand. Plant your oregano at the end of winter and move it to a bigger pot between April and May.
Oregano doesn’t need fertilizer, only some water when the soil is dry. Instead, it loves sunlight. Place your oregano plant in part to full sun; the heat will help it grow and intensify its scent.
The oregano blooms from July until September-October. You can harvest it all year round, detach the leaves gently on the branches or take the sprig with all the flowers.
You can also dry the twigs upside down in a shadowy place and store them or gift it to friends.
Oregano is a friendly culinary herb and can be planted with sage, rosemary, and thyme.
All you have to do now is clean up your balcony, grab some pots, and start your small culinary herbs garden!
Plants won’t need only water, fertilizer, and light but also love and attention.
Some people enjoy talking to their plants as they were children. Amazingly, plants seem to react to human encouragement and grow faster and healthier.
You will benefit from their companionship too!