Kitchen herbs are plant-based vitality boosters with concentrated ingredients and a concentrated aroma – they have been overcooked since humans began to cook. Our ancestors tasted every herb, and finding food was very difficult for hunters and gatherers. What didn’t kill them ended up on the menu – and became a medicinal herb if it helped against any ailments, like most kitchen herbs. Reasons enough to include herbs in our daily diet, herbal soups or salads make up for some sugar and white flour sins, and kitchen herbs are everywhere and really not complicated to grow.
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Sow or plant herbs
The best-known kitchen herbs are sold as young plants in nurseries and markets at the beginning of the season. Usually not particularly expensive – if you really look around locally and don’t order your herbs on the Internet with an unwelcomely high proportion of shipping costs.
You can easily order seeds over the Internet, and you only pay low shipping costs (if at all) from reputable dealers. Anyone who grows their own herbs usually wants seeds that have not been treated with anti-pesticide dressings or the like, i.e. organic seeds, which are sold in large selection by specialized herb dealers.
Herb beginners who do not (yet) feel like hundreds of seed pots could have the fun of ordering a bulk pack of cress seeds, e.g. B. here: www.samen-frese.de/catalog/advanced_search_result.php?keywords=kresse&x=0&y=0. For “herb cultivation light”: Cress grows in soil (from the garden, from the trade, from the forest) as well as on any other non-toxic and water-storing material, cotton wool, unspun wool, thick felt or fleece … and is super healthy and delicious .
The supermarket is also a way to get herbs – if you cultivate the herb plants in larger pots, strong bushes will sometimes develop. Which brings us to pot-growing herbs
The pot for growing herbs
You can buy all sorts of growing pots, made of clay, wood and stainless steel, affordable versions mostly made of plastic, in orange-brown or bright green that is slightly distracting. You can also use everything you have already bought as a seed pot: yoghurt pots, quark bowls, delicatessen salad pots, buttermilk pots, milk packs that have been sliced open, etc. etc.
The chosen container is filled with soil, e.g. B. with purchased sterile potting soil. But you don’t have to buy potting soil, gardeners without a hobby gardening accessories industry in the area are amazed at the idea of sowing seeds in germ-free soil. Seedlings need nutrients from the pair of leaves after the cotyledons, usually from a natural soil, it is not “germ-free” there. It is possible that “germ-free” is just as much of a hindrance to the development of healthy plants as excessive household disinfection is to the development/maintenance of a functioning immune system in humans.
Many, many gardeners are unfamiliar with potting soil and would never consider buying potting soil (or any substrate at all) instead of real soil. If you have a garden, garden soil can become the base of the potting soil; if not, you can pick up a bucket of soil from the nearest building materials store (top soil, costs cents).
This soil is adjusted to the requirements of the respective herbs. For most herbs, a simple mixture of sand, soil, and compost (most communities have a public compost yard) one-third each will do. You can look up specific requirements along with nutritional requirements in the cultivation guides for each herb.
The growing pot should be as large as possible – a small pot + pricking out only makes sense if the herbs are to be planted in the garden. Which size you choose depends on the space available and the herb – some herbs grow in every thimble, cress and marjoram, thyme and chives for example, some herbs such as perennial basil, rosemary and sage species can become imposing in large pots become bushes. Every growing pot needs a water catchment at the bottom.
Sowing and germination
In order for the seed to become a seedling, various requirements must be met:
- Seeds need moisture, warmth and oxygen to germinate
- Sometimes light, sometimes dark, to be looked up individually depending on the plant
- Most herbs germinate in the light, so they must not be sunk into the ground
- These seeds need light, but should not “simmer” in direct sunlight
- Wild garlic and borage germinate in the dark and are planted 1 or 2 cm in the ground
- Wild garlic as a complicated special case is also cold germinator (inform separately before sowing)
- All seeds need heat, some seeds need specific temperatures
- Herbs are cool there, everything between 15 and 22 °C is fine for most people
- Some seeds need frost (or a forest fire) to germinate
- Very dry seeds need a lot of moisture to start their metabolism and are soaked before sowing
- Commercial seeds are ready to be sown, privately procured seeds may need pre-treatment
- However, this applies more to exotic seeds than to germinating kitchen herbs
- If there are no special instructions on the seed bag, it is a ‘warm germ’
- Also known as ‘normal buckets’ or quick germinators, they almost always germinate without any problems
- This most uncomplicated germination type can be sown between spring and late summer
Now you know what demands seeds can have – if you want to sow an almost forgotten herb that only has a few seeds left, you should find out very carefully whether this seed has any special requirements.
General claims of culinary herbs
When the seed boxes are ready, you can start seeding as described above. Now a lot happens in the seed:
- It absorbs water, the seed coat swells, becomes soft and tears open
- Starch and protein-degrading enzymes are formed in the seedling and seed coat
- The seedling is surrounded by nutritive tissue from which it breaks down storage substances such as fat, starch and protein
- And converts, fats (oils) into carbohydrates, carbohydrates (starch + cellulose) into soluble simple sugars, solid protein into soluble albumin
- The transformed storage substances are metabolized, new cells are formed, cotyledons and radicles
- The first “real” leaves will soon appear, and the plant can now obtain oxygen through the leaves and water and nutrients through the roots
Until the first pair of leaves appear after the cotyledons, the plant uses the nutrient reserves in the seed to allow the shoot axis to grow and to produce light-facing leaves. When this pair of leaves is there, the stores in the seed are used up, the small plant should now obtain its energy through photosynthesis.
This is only possible if it gets enough light, which is why the following applies to the culture: whether pot culture, windowsill or balcony, enough light is more important than a special composition of the growing soil. Native herbs with a lot of green mass (cress, parsley, chives) usually get along with light penumbra, can tolerate a little more nutrients and consume more water.
In winter, herbs grown indoors suffer even more from a lack of light. You can simply let them continue to grow, but you can only expect a rich harvest with lots of aroma if you give your kitchen herbs additional plant lighting.
In addition, when the first leaves appear, the plant needs nutrients from outside, i.e. from you, and of course water as well. Especially the kitchen herbs from the south, mostly woody subshrubs (rosemary, sage, thyme), need very little of the two. They are used to a frugal diet. But they need a lot of sun and warmth. They should be settled in the warmest and brightest window seats and balcony locations. If you cannot offer these herbs little natural light, a little more fertilizer may help to make better use of the meager light.
The nutrients for the kitchen herbs should be selected carefully. Some fertilizers aren’t made of the stuff that a gourmet wants on the tip of their tongues, and some synthetic fertilizers contain stuff they don’t want in the house. The larger the cultivation pot, the more likely it is that the plants will only be nourished with organic fertilizers, which first have to be decomposed by microorganisms. Organic-mineral fertilizer is better for potted plants with limited soil volume because it is more readily available.
Kitchen herbs on the windowsill
You can simply put a bunch of kitchen herbs in pots on the window sill, that’s the usual, but not necessarily the most decorative way.
Mass gatherings of potties look a lot prettier when they’re gathered in a rectangular container that’s exactly the size of a window sill and has attractive exterior walls. The lucky home gardeners who are also gifted DIYers (or have one around them) build a wooden box. High enough for plastic bowls with gravel as a water-collecting layer, painted to match the decor if necessary.
Mass accumulations of pots are also not necessarily the smartest way or the most conducive to the kitchen herbs. A window sill offers a lot of space, if it is a window sill that does not necessarily have to be visible from the outside, even the whole room upwards. A single window sill can provide up to 2 square meters of growing space when fully utilized. Here are some ideas:
- Buy plant shelves made of wood, metal, plastic in the right size
- if the window cannot be opened, shelves can be built into the frame
- if the window can be opened normally, a flower rack on a hook would be an idea
- if the hook is in a rail, you can move the frame to the side so that it can be opened
- so kitchen herbs can get natural light when it is warm, brings better growth
Kitchen herbs on the balcony
Kitchen herbs always get natural light on the balcony, so it is the best place to grow tasty and healthy greens. An average, not exactly huge balcony offers enough space to grow kitchen herbs that you become self-sufficient.
If balcony boxes on the parapet don’t bring you enough harvest: build a lettuce tree, it multiplies the area under cultivation and can of course be planted with kitchen herbs as well as with lettuce. Hanging baskets, which are equipped with hanging or climbing herbs, provide even more cultivation area.
Kitchen Herb Ideas
You know the usual herbs for the kitchen, all 1,000 kitchen herbs would go beyond this article. Here you will find a few not so well-known herbs according to their purpose:
1. Kitchen herbs with dwarf growth, for variety in the smallest of spaces:
- Strawberry mint, Mentha species
- Mini-Chili, Potato v.minimum
- Rosenduftthymian, Thymus species
- Slovenian Calamint, Micromeria thymifolia
- Dwarf sage, Salvia officinalis ‘Nana’
- Dwarf thyme, Thymus vulgaris ‘Compactus’
2. Not very light-hungry, uncomplicated kitchen herbs for the window sill:
- Australisches Zitronenblatt, Plectranthus species „Mount Carbine“
- Chinese tea jasmine, Jasminum grandiflorum
- Glockenchili, Capsicum baccatum
- Jiaogulan, 7-blättrig, Gynostemma heptaphyllum
- Cardamom, Elettaria cardamomum
- Lemongras, Zitronengras, Cymbopogon citratus
- Mexican pink oregano, Poliomintha longiflora
- Pilzkraut ‚Mushroom Plant ‘, Rungia close
- Pine rosemary, Rosmarinus angustifolia
- Sibirischer Hauspaprika, Capsicum annuum v.
- Stevia ‚Zuckerhut‘, Stevia rebaudiana
- Tabasco, Capsicum frutescens
- Vietnamese Coriander, Polygonum odoratum
- Indoor garlic, green, Tulbaghia violacea
- Dwarf Tamarillo, Cyphomandra abutiloides
- Cyprus shrub basil, Ocimum species
3. Kitchen herbs that grow well despite the limited root space, for tubs on the balcony and terrace:
- Ananassalbei , Salvia rutilans
- Arabischer Zatar, Majorana syriaca
- Perennial borage, Borago laxiflora
- Bananenminze, Mentha arvensis Banana’
- Basil ‘Pesto Perpetuo’, Ocimum basilicum, the first white variegated
- Cilantro, Coriandrum sativum cv.
- Gewürztagetes ‚Lemon Gem‘, Tagetes tenuifolia ‘Lemon Gem’
- Honeydew melon sage, Salvia elegans
- Hornveilchen, Viola cornuta
- Italian oregano thyme, Thymus species
- Japanese flower cress, Orychophragmus violaceus
- Kapuzinerkresse ‚Red Wonder‘, Tropaeolum majus
- Lemon Mint, Mentha „Hillary‘s Sweet Lemon“
- Lime Agastache, Agastache mexicana
- Majoran, Origanum majorana
- Mauretanische Malve, Malva sylvestris ssp. mauretanica
- Orangenthymian, Thymus fragrantissimus
- Tulsi, Indisches Basilik, Ocimum sanctum
- Wasabi, Japanese horseradish, Wasabia japonica ‘Matsum’
“A spice influences the taste of a dish, an herb influences the mental or physical state,” says an old proverb. Make sure that you, too, benefit mentally and physically from kitchen herbs that work best (and spice up) fresh and can be grown in pots, on the windowsill and on the balcony without much effort.