The best edible plants to grow in your kitchen
If your family is like mine, you no doubt have a busy household. In among school runs, work and soccer practice, the place we spend the most time is in the kitchen.
You’ll find us there making breakfast, lunch and dinner together, not to mention a late-night snack. One of my favourite things to do when I’m cooking is to add homegrown ingredients to our meals.
Sure, I have a veggie patch in the backyard. I’m The Hungry Gardener! These days, however, big gardens in which to grow fresh produce are becoming less common. While there might not be space outside, you can still add to your meals by growing some edibles in the kitchen.
Herbs like thyme, oregano and chives do well indoors and the wholesome aroma they unleash is enough to get you cooking – even on the busiest of days. Think a quick basic pasta brought to life with some freshly chopped oregano or simple ricotta gnocchi with butter and thyme. Delicious.
Growing edibles is also a great way to get your kids involved in the kitchen. Whether it’s growing sprouts from seed or picking a few sprigs of parsley for cooking, my kids love seeing how food grows. A tasty meal at the end of it also provides a good incentive.
There’s no reason to stop at leafy edibles, either. Dwarf varieties of citrus can be grown indoors in a container through the colder months. Put them in a sunny spot in your kitchen where there’s good airflow then move them outdoors when the weather warms up.
Another edible that can do surprisingly well indoors is the bay tree. These evergreens thrive in containers and the leaves pair exceptionally well with all range of vegetables. Try them in autumn soups and slow-cooked casseroles. Pick some and set aside for a few days to dry out.
Let’s take a closer look at some more plants for the kitchen, which will add great flavour to your meals.
Classic herbs like oregano, parsley and thyme are easy to grow in the kitchen. Plant them in small containers with self-watering features or sit them on top of a saucer. Herbs love sunlight, so think about this when you’re positioning your plants. Place them along a windowsill with good ventilation, away from cooktops and ovens.
You might have come across micro herbs like coriander, rocket, chervil and watercress at the local fruit and veg shop. Micro herbs are basically seedlings, or very young herbs that have just germinated. They have a subtle flavour, are colourful and take up minimal space in your kitchen, which makes them great to grow at home.
You can buy a ready-to-harvest tray from produce markets, or grow from seed using a plastic container and some seed raising mix. Sprinkle your seeds across the soil surface, keeping it moist (but not water-logged), and you should be able to harvest your first crop within a couple of weeks or so.
Sprouts are easy to grow in the kitchen and are said to have good health benefits. All you need is a clean glass jar with a cheesecloth cover and some seeds. Alternatively, you can use a kitchen sprouting kit. Try alfalfa, mung beans, mustard and even soy beans. The whole process usually takes under a week, then you can eat your crop – fresh or cooked!
Bay tree (Laurus nobilis)
Bay trees are great container plants. In a bright spot, they’ll also grow happily indoors.
Choose a well-draining, quality potting mix and a suitably sized container with a drip tray. It’s also a good idea to raise the pot off the ground using pot feet or a few evenly stacked tiles. Water your tree sparingly through the colder months, harvest and dry leaves – then enjoy in all types of heart-warming meals.