How to Grow Herbs and Spices in Urban Areas

Everyone thinks you can only grow vegetables, herbs and spices only in the rural areas without realizing that urban gardening is also the perfect hobby and may save you money on your grocery bill. There are about 10 – 11 herbs and spices that are very popular for our use with their amazing and unique health benefits.

People have used herbs for their culinary and healing properties for centuries. Today, herbs remain as popular as ever. Cooks love the unique flavors that herbs lend to all kinds of food and drink. Herbalists treasure the healing qualities of certain flowers, leaves and roots.

Herbal crafters preserve the beauty and fragrance of flowers and leaves in potpourri, wreaths, sachets and dried arrangements. And gardeners value herbs for all their excellent qualities, including their vigor, low maintenance and natural resistance to pests.

When most of us think of herbs and spices, we picture the common kitchen seasonings, such as basil, rosemary, sage and thyme. Yet, an herb is any plant that is considered useful.

For instance, the leaves, roots, seeds, stems or flowers of an herb might be important as a source of flavoring, medicine, fragrance, dye or some other product. It’s not all about function. Some gardeners grow herbs simply because they are beautiful.

Place your herbs and spices on the section of your balcony that gets the most sun. Frequent watering is important so they don’t dry out – balcony gardens need more watering than regular gardens. Slow-release natural fertilizers are best and some herbs can be trimmed and pruned to accelerate growth. Happy planting!

Even if you live in a city apartment with limited space and sunlight, many items are just as possible to grow especially herbs and small vegetables like beans, and root vegetables like beets, carrots, and onions and even cherry tomatoes. There are many herbs and some veggies that thrive on balconies, windowsills or fire escapes.

The major difference between herbs and spices is that ”Spices can be defined as vegetable products used for flavouring, seasoning and imparting aroma in foods”. ”Herbs on the other hand are leafy spices, and some, like dill and coriander, can provide both spice seeds and leafy herbs”. Many spice and culinary herb plants are widely regarded as having medicinal properties, and there is therefore some overlap between them and Medicinal Aromatic Plants (MAPs)

If it’s your first time growing herbs on your balcony here are a few things you may need:

  • Soil
  • Organic Fertilizer
  • Extra pots in various sizes with an opening at the bottom to drain water (choose clay, plastic, or ceramic pots and if you have space consider a larger wooden planter)
  • Small balcony-sized shovel
  • Watering can
  • Hanging baskets
  • Gardening gloves (optional)

Read Also: List of 23 Healing Herbs in the Bible

Urban vegetables, Herbs and Spices growing

Materials needed:

  1. Planting media (soil, saw dust, water, dry grass etc). For holding the roots of a plant.
  2. Charcoal dust (cooling agent)
  3. Hard wood ash (balancing the acidity and alkalinity of the soil. “pH”)
  4. Lake sand (aeration)
  5. Manure (plant feeds)
  6. Seeds / seedlings.
  7. Mulches (coffee huskes are the best)

Mixing all the materials

1. Mix the materials (planting media, charcoal dust, lake sand, Manure and ash,) in the ratio of 3:1:1:1:2kgs respectively.

2. Fill the container with well mixed soil,

3. Leave the container with well mixed soil for like 3-4 days to rest.

4. After 3-4 days , you can now plant your seeds or seedlings

5. Then mulch your garden with coffee huskes , or cotton huskes .

6. Water your garden gently to avoid damaging of your young seedlings.

Management Practices

~ Water gardens every evening.
~ Prune your gardens where necessary.
~ Spray with organic pesticides.
~ Earth up your garden to allow water penetration.
( Have it fresh direct from your backyard for better health and enjoy!!)

Read Also: Complete List of Natural Diuretics Foods and Drinks

The 10 Best Cooking Herbs to Grow in Your Apartment

  • You don’t need a garden to grow herbs
  • Common herbs like rosemary, oregano and basil can be grown in your apartment
  • Save money at the grocery store by growing them at home!

If you’re looking for the best herbs to grow right from your own home, these 10 herbs are low maintenance and yield great results. Spice up your cooking and save a little money by growing these in your own apartment.

Buy these perennial herbs as plants from a garden center

Some herbs are seasonal and have a short life span, while perennials have a long life span and can live for several years. The best herbs to grow are perennials because you reap the benefits for a longer period of time.

The six herbs below can take some time to grow from seeds, so it’s best to buy them as plants from a garden center to get started and you’ll enjoy their flavor and aroma all year.

1. Rosemary

Herbs and Spices (rosemary)
Herbs and Spices 1 { Rosemary)

Rosemary is a universal herb that adds flavor to almost any dish you prepare. With its rich, pine-tree-like smell, rosemary plants will make your whole apartment smell mountain fresh.

For rosemary to thrive, it needs to be potted in a plant, kept in direct sunlight for six to eight hours a day, watered semi-frequently and trimmed regularly. Rosemary can grow year-round in almost any climate but needs direct light each day.

2. Oregano

Herbs and Spices oregano
Herbs and Spices 2 (Oregano)

Oregano plants are easy to maintain. All they need is water when the soil is dry and to sit on a windowsill or patio ledge that receives six to eight hours of sunlight per day. To keep this herb from growing like crazy, remember to trim it down when it gets taller than four inches.

Anytime you’re making sauces, soups or stews, you can easily access your home-grown oregano and use it to add flavor to your meals.

Read Also: Complete Herbs and Spices Growing Guide

3. Thyme

Herbs and Spices thyme
Herbs and Spices 3 Thyme

Perhaps one of the easiest and best herbs to grow in an apartment, thyme doesn’t actually require a lot of time to maintain. Pot this herb in a container, place it on your balcony or windowsill, let it bask in the sunlight for hours each day, prune it and water it occasionally. Thyme will still thrive even when the soil is dry.

Thyme is a spice that can be added to almost any meal as the flavor blends well with any cuisine.

4. Chives

Herbs and Spices chives
Herbs and Spices 4 (Chives)

Chives are a great plant for apartment dwellers to grow because they can survive indoors or outdoors. Like other perennials, chives need six to eight hours of sunlight to prosper. Place your chive plant on a windowsill, keep the soil nice and damp and watch it grow.

Chives can get up to a foot tall, so trim the plant down frequently, use the clippings in your cooking, and you’ll have flavorful food always.

5. Bay laurel

Herbs and Spices bay laurel
Herbs and Spices (Bay laurel)

Bay laurel is an herb that thrives in potted plants or containers. Give bay laurel space to grow, sunlight and air circulation, and you’ll have a healthy supply for any occasion.

Fresh bay leaves can be used to add flavor to sauces or soups, or you can dry bay leaves and use them as a seasoning rub.

6. Mint

Herbs and Spices mint

Mint comes in a few varieties like spearmint or peppermint and is easy to grow using the container method. Plant your mint in a container or pot, place it in an area where it’ll get some sunlight, water it frequently and watch it grow.

Not only will it taste delicious, but it’ll also make your whole apartment smell fresh and clean.

Use cuttings to grow these herbs

As you’re becoming a green thumb and growing your apartment herb garden, you can add two more to the mix by using cuttings to grow new herbs.

Simply put, cut a sprig of basil or mint from an existing plant and place it in fresh water.

7. Basil

Herbs and Spices basil
Herbs and Spices 7 (Basil)

Unlike perennials, basil isn’t a plant that will grow year-round. Basil loves heat and sunlight and will flourish for weeks at a time.

While it won’t last all year, once you have a mature basil plant, you can cut off sprigs, place them in water and use the cuttings to garner more basil.

Basil adds fresh flavor and taste to salads and sandwiches and is also a staple ingredient for pesto sauces.

8. Lemon balm

Herbs and Spices lemon balm
Herbs and Spices 8 (Lemon balm)

Lemon balm is another soft-stemmed herb that can grow in an apartment from cuttings. A great summer herb, lemon balm can be used to add a fresh, tangy taste to any recipe or beverage.

All you need to do is take a cutting from another lemon balm and add the sprigs to fresh water.

Read Also: Reasons why Keeping a Food Diary is Important

Plant seeds to grow these herbs in your apartment

Another way to grow herbs in your apartment is to plant them as seeds and watch them grow. Cilantro and chervil are some of the best herbs to grow straight from the seed.

9. Cilantro

Herbs and Spices cilantro
Herbs and Spices 9 (Cilantro)

Cilantro seeds can be planted in a pot and will become the delicious herb that adds that tangy flavor to food. Cilantro is an outlier compared to the perennial herbs listed above.

Cilantro does not like full sunlight but instead flourishes in cool areas. When planting cilantro seeds for your apartment herb garden, place the plant in an area where it’ll get morning or evening light but will stay cool throughout the hottest hours of the day.

10. Chervil

Herbs and Spices chevril
Herbs and Spices 10 (Chervil)

Chervil is an herb similar to parsley that’s dainty, so once it’s planted in a pot, it’s best to leave it in the same pot.

Chervil is not an annual herb that can be grown in any season. During the winter, it likes full sunlight and during the summer, it prefers shade.

Get some chervil seeds, plant them, watch them sprout and enjoy the added taste of chervil when used for cooking.

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