Herbs add flavor without adding calories to many of our culinary creations. With many of us watching our calorie and salt intake, the use of fresh herbs is a way to enhance the culinary flavor without increasing the waistline or blood pressure.
Culinary herbs are easy to grow on a kitchen windowsill and will provide versatility in recipes. The addition of herbs not only improves flavor but can also improve health. Many herbs that can be grown indoors year-round offer health benefits, reduce symptoms, and reduce the amount of medication needed to treat common ailments.
Growing herbs indoors also help to purify the air inside of your home. The various odors permeate the air in the kitchen and often make the room smell stale, and have live greenery growing on the windowsill to freshen the air is a good thing.
Check out some of these easy to grow culinary kitchen windowsill herbs and select some of your favorites to grow at home.
There are several basil varieties, like lemon basil, Italian basil, sweet basil, Thai basil, and all are easy to grow in a container on a sunny kitchen windowsill. Grow basil in a 6-8 container placed in a north-facing window where the plant will receive bright, indirect sunlight.
Keep soil moist and harvest as needed by snipping off the tips of the branches. This will force the herb plant to produce lateral growth and more edible leaves. Allow the tips of the branches to grow if you want the basil plant to flower.
Fresh basil will keep in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. The stems and leaves can be dried or frozen to preserve them for future use. Pesto is a popular way basil is used, but it also enhances the flavor of tomato and egg dishes. Add raw leaves to salads, create a flavored vinegar with basil, or use in Thai recipes or meat dishes.
Basil is reported to reduce stress, boost the immune system, improve liver health, reduce blood sugar, and support heart health.
Chives is an easy to grow herb with a mild onion-like flavor and will add an onion flavor to salads, potatoes dishes, sauces, and omelets without being as intense as onions or garlic. Diced chives are typically added as a garnish just before serving.
Starting chive seeds is different from other herbs seeds - the container needs to be placed in the dark until the seeds sprout. The temperature must be kept around 21 degrees C for the seeds to germinate. After sprouts appear, place chives in bright light and a warm location.
Chives will reach a mature height of 30cm and produce one edible purple flower on the thin stem's end.
Chives are rich in vitamin K, help prevent osteoporosis, and are said to improve memory.
Dill is an excellent choice for growing in a kitchen windowsill because it's a pretty plant with a pleasing aroma, and all parts of the dill plant are edible.
Dill needs a deep container to grow in because it will develop a long taproot. Plant dill in a container that is at least 30cm deep and equally as wide. Seeds can be planted at any time of the year when dill is being grown indoors. Place one seed in a moist potting soil container, cover the top of the container with plastic wrap, and place in a warm location until the seed germinates. After germination, remove plastic wrap and keep the soil moist at all times.
Allow soil to dry out between watering after the herb plant has become established. Dill does not like soggy soil and will develop root rot if the plant is over-watered. Apply water at the plant's base and avoid getting foliage wet to prevent fungal diseases from forming on the dill plant. Feed dill monthly with water-soluble plant food from spring until the end of summer.
Harvest and prune dill as needed to keep the herb plant looking neat but don't remove more than one-third of the plant at a time. Dill is rich in antioxidants and vitamin C and A and is said to help protect against heart disease and cancer.
Fennel is a perennial plant that will thrive in a sunny kitchen windowsill. This herb develops a deep taproot and will need to be grown in a large container.
Fennel needs temperatures that stay close to 21 degrees C to germinate. Once the seeds have sprouted, the new plant will need at least 6-hours of bright light each day to thrive.
Fennel will reach a mature size of 45cm tall and 90cm wide. Snip off as much of the fronds as needed for a recipe. The plant will produce seeds that can be toasted and used as a spice in recipes. The fennel plant's bulb is also edible, so growing fennel can provide you with three unique flavors and textures from one plant.
Fennel is rich in vitamin B6, C, and fiber. This herb promotes heart health, acts as a diuretic, and is a powerful antioxidant.
Mint is a fragrant perennial culinary kitchen herb that will beautify your home and enhance the flavor of food and beverages. This herb plant will produce white, pink, or purple flowers if allowed to mature, and the leaves can be harvested at any stage of plant growth.
Mint releases its fragrance anytime the plant is brushed against or if a leaf is crushed. The plant leaves can be shiny or fuzzy, smooth or crinkled, bright green, or variegated, depending on the type of mint planted.
There are many different mints; they prefer to be grown in a sunny location and loose, moist soil.
* Peppermint produces the oil used in peppermint flavoring. Leaves can be plucked from the plant and chewed as a breath freshener or used in many other culinary applications. Peppermint does tend to become invasive, so this herb is best grown in a container.
* Spearmint is another well-known mint scent and flavor. This herb plant will reach a mature height of 30cm and bare 10cm spikes of purple blooms. This hardy perennial herb is invasive and best grown in a container.
* Pennyroyal is a low-growing herb that is often used as fragrant ground cover. The plant will also produce pale blue flower clusters during summer.
Place 1-2 seeds in a 15cm container filled with potting soil and place containers on the kitchen windowsill. Keep soil moist but not soggy. Harvest mint leaves at any size by pinching off stems. Harvest leaves just before the plant blooms for the best flavor. Snip off the top half of a mature plant to keep it producing new leaves.
Mint helps soothe digestive issues, freshens breath, reduces inflammation in the body, and boosts the immune system.
Parsley is a versatile culinary herb that's easy to grow in a container. After a meal, chewing parsley will freshen breath, and parsley is also used in recipes to add a boost of flavor.
Parsley seeds are encased in a tough outer shell, and seeds must be soaked before planting to encourage germination.
Mix a few drops of dishwashing liquid in a cup of warm water and stir to mix thoroughly. Place parsley seeds in the warm water and let them soak for 1-hour.
After the 1-hour soak, drain water and rinse seeds with warm water to remove all traces of soap. Now place seeds in a fresh bowl of water and soak for 24-hours. Drain seeds at the end of 24-hours and spread them out on paper toweling to dry. The parsley seeds will be ready to plant once they are dry.
Plant prepared seeds in a 15cm container of potting soil. Keep soil moist. Parsley does not like direct sunlight and grows best in a bright room or in an east-facing window where the plant will only receive the morning sunlight.
Parsley is an excellent source of vitamin K and promotes bone and heart health.
Sage is an easy to grow kitchen windowsill herb that is used for culinary uses, medicinal purposes, and as an attractive, fragrant houseplant.
There are many varieties of sage, with garden sage being the most common type. Garden sage has silvery-green leaves and is excellent for adding flavor to recipes and making herbal tea.
Sage seeds are unpredictable and don't always germinate well. Start with 2-3 times more seeds than you want to help ensure a good plant yield. Plant 2-3 seeds in an 8-inch container and place it in a warm, bright location. Keep soil moist at all times, and viable seeds will germinate within three weeks.
Sage is a sun lover and requires 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day, so placing container-grown sage under a grow light may be needed to keep the plant healthy. Sage also loves humidity and will need to be misted daily, raised in a grouping with other container plants, or placed in a pebble tray of water.
Sage is loaded with antioxidants, reduces blood sugar and bad cholesterol, promotes oral health, and helps protect against cancer.
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