You can’t enjoy chili without fresh cilantro. Ditto chicken soup and parsley. Or tomato sauce without basil.
You don’t have to be a gourmet cook to use fresh herbs on a regular basis (did we mention chocolate sundaes with fresh spearmint?) or to spice up an old favorite (lemon-thyme baked chicken).
It may seem silly out here where farm fields abound, but the cold winters cut short most herb gardens even if you do have a good spot for them. It’s a lot trickier inside. Those who spend most of the time in Manhattan apartments know it’s hard to find a window that provides suitable sun — the rule of thumb is six hours a day.
Now there’s really no excuse. A range of interesting products has come on the market of late. They are designed for indoor window sills that will yield an herb garden that stays healthy and plentiful all year long.
Even in the coldest climate, the planting season lasts six months, and though greenhouses extend the seasons, greenhouses can cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars. A nice windowsill garden can be an effective year-round yielder and Sunblaster Horticultural out of British Columbia makes some of the best products.
It’s not just a hobby. The food writer Lynne Jaques issued this endorsement: “To enjoy the health benefits of herbs and spices, it is best to either grow them at home, or buy them organic and fresh from a natural grocery store or farmers market.”
Herbs and spices are a healthier alternative for flavoring food than salt. Refined (“table”) salt may make individuals more prone to high blood pressure, kidney problems, and heart disease. “We tried the Growlight garden with spectacular results. It stayed hydrated for 14 days allowing us a trip out to the summer house for school vacation” Jaques wrote.
Amazon sells a dozen makes and models for $20 on up. Nature’s Blossom Fruit Growing Kit isn’t as ambitious, and yields are much smaller, but the kids love it. The Beginner’s Set grows four types of berries.
The Asian Greens Growing Kit is also a lot of fun. It boasts, “Everything included to easily grow four traditional Asian greens from seed.”
Find more about growing your own herb garden on www.gardenerspath.com.
To read about the medical benefits of fresh herbs:
“Prescription for Dietary Wellness;” Phyllis A. Balch, CNC and James F. Balch, M.D.; 1998.
“Anti-aging Manual: The Encyclopedia of Natural Health (3rd ed.);” Joseph B. Marion; 2005.
“The Green Pharmacy: Herbal Remedies for Common Diseases and Conditions from the World’s Foremost Authority on Healing Herbs;” James A. Duke, Ph.D.; 2003.