Today’s post is unusual in many ways. Firstly, it comes after the longest break I have ever taken from writing – for the past several month, I have been focusing exclusively on the analysis and interpretation of my empirical data. Secondly, it has nothing to do with my research project (which at some point has become the key topic of my posts) – in fact, it opens a completely new category which is all about tips and advice for ethical consumers. Finally, it is the first but hopefully not the last guest post to appear on my blog which I find very exciting. It’s always good to be approached by the right people at the right time, especially when collaboration leads to rewarding outcomes, so welcome Bryn Huntpalmer’s brief but informative guide to growing your own kitchen garden!
Guest Post by Bryn Huntpalmer
Anyone who appreciates the beauty of nature and the power of bringing fresh ingredients to the table can enjoy the perks of a kitchen garden. But fresh herbs do more than add to your cooking. They are a component of many healthy, holistic remedies for ailments. They also help purify the air in your home. Plants absorb gases and volatile organic compounds, ridding your kitchen of some of the toxins that come from paint, cleaners, plastics, and sealants.
If you have limited space in your kitchen or are wary of the responsibility of caring for an indoor garden, start with just four or five herbs with a variety of uses. Here are five essential herbs will work as a great foundation for your new home feature.
One of the major perks to an indoor herb garden are the scents that fill your kitchen. There are so many varieties of basil that you can pick and choose by the aroma and taste that you prefer—sweet, spicy, or fruity. Basil is a member of the mint family that pairs well with pesto, lemon, many vegetables, fruit, and garlic. These herbs require warm, sunny weather and a fair amount of water. Basil grows best in daylong sunshine, but that’s not always easy to provide to your indoor garden. Thankfully, most can survive with three or four hours of sunlight. It doesn’t stay fresh for long, so try to use it fresh-picked as often as possible. But don’t feel inclined to add it to every dish just to keep it from going to waste; you can also use it as a remedy for stomach ailments, coughing and colds, and other minor health irritations.
Thyme is an aromatic herb, also belonging to the mint family. Like basil, it fairs well in sunny climates, and its earthy taste is a fitting addition to any Mediterranean or Italian dish. It pairs well with garlic, olive oil, and veggies. Aside from its culinary uses, thyme has several other applications, which include steeping it in alcohol for a natural acne remedy and using it to prevent colds before they get off the ground.
Via Simply Recipes
From adding character to a savory dish to bringing a super sweet dessert back to earth, lavender has countless applications. Its an aromatic ingredient often found in personal hygiene products, natural cleaners and detergents, candles, and remedies for itchy and flaky skin. It’s also a well-known stress reliever. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your homegrown lavender: it can enrich everything from homemade potpourri to a glass of lemonade.
For your kitchen herb garden, you’re going to want a low-growing variety so that it doesn’t completely take over. Lavender doesn’t do well with excessive moisture, so make sure to place it high up and refrain from over-watering.
Since all of the other herbs on this list are part of the mint family, clearly this herb has earned its place in any kitchen garden. Mint adds a cool, refreshing taste to everything from breath fresheners to chocolate desserts, and it can help soothe headaches, tummy troubles, and muscle aches. If you love entertaining guests, offer garden-fresh mint juleps and mojitos as spring and summer refreshments. Make sure your mint plant receives morning sun and light afternoon shade and is nowhere near a dry heating element. Harvest the sprigs before the plant flowers for maximum freshness.
Via Steamy Kitchen
Forget fried chicken and corn on the cob. Rosemary chicken or rosemary garlic potatoes are the very definition of comfort food. This unique and delicious herb can grow in winter as long as it’s safely indoors, which means you’ll have the pleasure of adding it to your dishes year round. Use it for other purposes like soothing skin irritations or making a tea to help with illness. Like most of the herbs on this list, you’ll have to prune it back to keep it kitchen-friendly.
An herb garden is an easy way to develop a green thumb. Herbs are fairly low maintenance, and since they are located right in your kitchen, the plants won’t easily fall prey to harsh weather or insects. The benefits are worth the effort: cleaner and safer air, freedom from chemicals and pesticides, and access to plants that have countless uses.
About the author: Bryn Huntpalmer is a mother of two young children living in Austin, Texas where she currently works as an Editor for Modernize and nurtures her HGTV obsession. In addition to regularly contributing to Home Decor and Design websites around the web, her writing can be found on Lifehacker, About.com and on her personal blog Her Own Wings.