The modern kitchen is much more than the culmination of cabinetry, storage and countertops, appliances, and a place to eat. It’s evolved over the past few years into a space that’s all about health, well-being, and passing along knowledge that's geared at familial interaction, relaxation, and enjoyment of your newly reinvented kitchen space.
Imagine being able to add the perfect, fresh, accent to all of the dishes you’ll prepare and serve your hungry guests in your new kitchen. No more running to the store last minute for that garnish or parsley or basil. We feel that kitchens are for cooking, and if you're a part of the new wave that agrees kitchens are for cooking healthy fresh food - a kitchen herb garden may be right up your alley. In this post, we’re spreading some kitchen garden tips to help your kitchen blossom into your ideal dream space.
Most herbs love a solid 6-8 hours of sunlight per day, so ensuring that your space is able to accommodate strong light throughout the midday is paramount to yielding a good, strong crop of fresh greens. Further to herbs needing light to thrive and grow, intensity of light also contributes to the flavour of your herbs, in turn helping your food taste better! Herbs grown in strong light taste better, so a sunny southern facing window sill, or a table situated nearby a large window is perfect for a fledgling herb garden.
If your space is a bit cramped for space, or you don’t have access to ample amounts of strong daylight, you can also invest in a small grow light setup to help the success of your kitchen garden. Let’s imagine you’re starting our small after a lengthy renovation project - all you need to do is position an additional light source using a CFL bulb from your local hardware store that mimics natural light. Any number of online retailers or your local nursery and/or garden centre will have affordable and innovative grow light systems for kitchen garden applications, with some offering unique wall-mounted systems should your countertop space be spoken for.
Maintain a Constant Temperature
Temperature is critically important for a successful herb garden. Most herbs like a constant temperature of around 15-18 degrees Celsius (60-65 degrees Fahrenheit) - meaning sustaining a solid room temperature year round is easily attainable and comfortable for most households. As a pro tip, if you’re growing basil (mmm, homemade pesto) the herb typically likes a warmer temperature of about 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Some more advanced growables may require a dormant period mimicking a winter season, so overwintering plants will require that you move them to a cooler location for a few months, like a basement, or cold storage room. It’s also important to note that if you’re placing your herb garden directly in front of a window, that the temperature of the glass is often much warmer than the rest of the room thanks to reflected sunlight. Ensure that your herbs don’t physically touch the glass, as the leaves may burn. SImilarly, if you have drafty windows you’ll want to reposition your plants away from the glass during the colder months - insulating your windows by placing a towel or a few folded cloths between the screen insert and the glass also works, and allows you to leave the herbs close by their light source.
Always be particular that you give each herb its own amount of personal space. Placing your herbs in a clump on the countertop restricts airflow and can contribute to the spreading of disease and even household pest attacks.
Grouping herbs too tightly together in a space like the kitchen with limited air flow means that re-arranging and repositioning them every couple weeks is a good idea to help them breathe well and not allowing the air around them to become stagnant.
Feeding & Watering
This is here many people get nervous about the world of gardening - feeding and water their plants. With busy lives and schedules, life can move pretty fast, and sometimes watering your herb garden can slip your mind in the morning as you rush out the door. But, there’s hope. Gardening is all about a slow progression of learning, and adapting a small snippet of your lifestyle to caring for your plants.
Key to successful growing of your first batch of herbs indoors is allowing the soil in each pot to dry out a bit between waterings (two to three per week should suffice for most herbs). The reason for this is, soil dries out from the top first, so thirsty plants will dive their roots deep into the pot in search of moisture, meaning they’ll develop strong and solid root systems, which is good for sustained growth. Test the soil by putting your finger about 1.5-2 inches down in the soil if you’re unsure if it’s dry enough - if it’s dry until you get near the bottom, it’s time for water. If you find that you’re having to water your plants daily, this can be caused by a few variables:
- It’s too hot in your kitchen
- The pot is too small for the plant itself
- The humidity level in the house may be too low
Many people also opt to fertilize their herbs to feed them on top of watering. The benefit to feeding plants like edible kitchen herbs is the development of stronger leaves, a direct result of an increased dose of nitrogen from your chosen fertilizer - always go the extra mile and use seaweed extract or fish based fertilizer. Feeding schedules can vary, but in the summer months, it’s customary to use a fertilizer solution on your herbs once per week.
Growing herbs in one raised bed outdoors works great - but indoors, not so much. Give each of your herbs, basil, parsley, chives, rosemary, cilantro, etc - their each pot so they can grow independently of each other.
This allows you to move and circulate your herbs individually to prime sunlight locations, or give different herbs a break from direct sunlight, or to winter them. This practice ensures greater likelihood of long term success.
A great way to begin the health-centric evolution of the heart of your home is to integrate an indoor garden, growing herbs, veggies, and other plants that not only boost the likelihood you’ll eat fresh greens on a more regular basis, but benefit from the advantages of having greenery in your space, as well.
Curating your culinary experience with a boost of fresh herbs is a great way to accent your dream kitchen and elevate your meal-time experience. Enjoy!