Spice Gardening Tips and Ideas
Today, we learn about spice gardening or growing spices at home. Since ancient times Herbs and spices are used for adding flavor to our food. Besides increasing the palatability of otherwise ordinary foods, they function as digestive aids, the volatile oils present in them possessing a therapeutic action on the digestive system and various other organ systems in the body. Their antimicrobial properties have already earned them an imperative place in food preservation procedures such as drying and pickling.
Spices are regularly used in cooking in combination with herbs. However, by characterization, herbs are leaves and young stems of tender, herbaceous plants. Even though many herbs have a spicy taste to them, but they are not true spices. That label of truthful spices belongs to the dried plant parts other than leaves. For an instance in spice plants like, pepper is a berry, cloves are young flower buds, cardamom is a fruit and cinnamon is obtained from the bark of the cinnamon tree.
Spices, by which we mean things like ginger and cumin, have a misconception as being harder to grow at home than the herbs, but to a large extent, it’s just that we’re not used to doing it. It is fascinating to note that, unlike herbs, most spices can be naturally grown in your herbal garden. The spices plants can affix immense beauty to the garden, while the intensely fresh fragrance and flavour will be a surprise to the cook. But it’s true that a number of spices are impractical to grow at homes, such as those that come from large trees like cinnamon and cloves. So you can enrich flavor in your food and fragrance in your place by simply growing spices indoor or having your own herbal garden at own space.
Ginger Spice Gardening Tips
When thinking of growing spice plant at home ginger is the easiest and most common spice grown at home. It is scientifically called Zingiber officinale all over the world. Ginger is often referred to as ginger root and comes under the category of spices grown underground, but it is the fleshy, underground stem or rhizome of a perennial plant. Ginger has its origin in South China and later spread to other tropical areas, including West Africa and India from where it reached Britain and further European countries. Ginger is widely used in savory curries as well as in confectionery and baked items. It is used in herbal teas not only for the sake of fragrance and flavor but also for its medicinal value.
The ginger plant can be easily propagated from one to two-inch pieces of the rhizome containing, at least, one ‘eye’ or growing bud. Basically, rhizomes are modified stems and have a branching habit and send out new shoots as it grows and spreads.
Ginger can be both in an indoor and outdoor garden. Fill a large container with rich, well-drained potting mix. Place several pieces of ginger uniformly apart on the surface of the container. Cover it with an inch of sieved sand and press down firmly. Keep the container in an area having proper lightening conditions or under grow lights. Water it regularly whenever the soil seems dry and feed once in two weeks with a general purpose fertilizer.
When growing ginger in a container indoors, ginger can be treated as a perennial. Dig into the soil and break off only as much of the rhizome as you need at a time.
Ginger can be easily grown outdoors as well. Choose a moderately sunny location where it can also receive regular water supply. Good drainage is important, though. Plant the pieces with the node pointing up about 4 inches deep in the drained soil. When planted in early spring, it will keep on sending up the aerial stems all through summer, but the leaves may begin to yellow in fall. Garden grown ginger is ideally treated as an annual since frost can cause rotting of the rhizomes. For harvesting dig up the entire plant, remove the soil, and harvest the rhizome by removing the aerial stems.
For long term storage and usage, you can dry ginger in the form of candy or also make tasty pickle out of it.
Turmeric Spice Gardening Ideas
Botanically Turmeric is closely related to ginger and is cultivated in the same way as ginger. One minor disparity is that the roots are more tuberous in shape, without pointy nodes; instead, the nodes are the little knobby lumps that project from the root. Also, turmeric grows best when planted just an inch or two deep – simply place it beneath the soil at this depth. It not only imparts a bright golden yellow color but has a spicy flavor to condiments and curries. Scientifically named as Curcuma longa, this is Indian native. It has various benefits like antimicrobial and antioxidant properties of turmeric. The yellow colour of turmeric is due to the presence of pigment curcumin. Turmeric has been used in cosmetic products since ages and it also has spiritual importance because of its use in various customs of marriage.
Initial propagation planting material may be a challenge because turmeric is more over and over again sold and used in its dried form. However, if you can fetch a few pieces of the rhizome to start with, they will proliferate every year, providing you with more than you’d need.
Place pieces of turmeric into pots filled with the well-draining potting mix. Provide an adequate amount of light so that the large leaves that emerge have a lush green appearance. Turmeric flourishes more in outdoor conditions than in containers.
After harvesting, boil turmeric rhizomes for 35 to 45 minutes and then dry them. This process enhances the color and increases shelf life for storage. The dried stems can be further stored as such or grind into turmeric powder.
Coriander Spice Gardening Techniques
We have the answer to your question How to grow spices from seed. Coriander is the answer, as it comes under the class of spices grown from seed. The name Coriander is often used as herb and spices both.
Botanically coriander is the seeds of cilantro, the common annual herb. The leaves of the Coriandrum sativum plant is the cilantro or Chinese parsley used widely in Chinese, Indian and Mexican cuisine. The spice is the dried seeds of the similar plant, but very different in taste. This cool weather plant may be cultivated in both fall and spring but does not survive the scorching heat of summer.
Coriander is a quick-growing annual that can be easily cultivated indoors at any time of the year. To raise it from seeds, rub the globose coriander seeds between the palms of your hand to break them into halves. Keep the soil evenly moist and keep watering time to time as the seedling matures. The first sets of true leaves are simple with uneven edges, but finely divided lacy leaves will emerge as the plant matures.
Coriander prefers cool weather, so you can plant it in well-prepared beds early in spring or even in fall in regions with milder climates. When grown outdoors, it thrives as an herb during the cool season, but when the temperature rises, the plant matures, growing up a long stem carrying the flowers that would eventually develop into coriander seeds. Bolting can be induced in indoor plants by withdrawing water.
After most of the flowers have attained maturity and turned into green globular fruits. Uproot the entire stems and place them in a large brown paper cover in order to dry. All the fruits will eventually get detached. Dry them in the sunlight and store in dry jars. You also can grind the dry coriander seeds into powder which commonly used in curry preparation.
Cardamom Spice Gardening Methods
Scientific name: Elettaria cardamomum.
Cardamom is another plant amongst the list of important garden spices, member of the ginger family. It is a rhizomatous perennial that produces a dense clump of stalks with a pleasantly warm and spicy fragrance and scented flowers. The dried seedpods are economic part and added to sweets, Persian coffee, curry powder, chutneys, pickles, and many Asian delicacies. Its leaves are often be used as a wrap used for steaming, baking or barbecue sweet potato, fish, pork and chicken, imparting them a wonderful flavor. Cardamom is comparatively more cold-resistant than most members of the ginger family and can survive quite a few touches of frost. After the last frost, you can even cut back winter-damaged foliage and a new crop of luxuriant leaves will soon emerge. It can be propagated by using rhizomes which can be planted about 5 cm below the soil surface in spring. It should be grown in a sufficiently nutrient enriched, moist, well-drained soil in a sunny place.
Saffron Spice Gardening Ideas
Scientifically called Crocus sativus.
Saffron is one of the most valuable and expensive spices on the planet is known so far. It is used in more gourmet recipes as an excellent flavoring agent than you can imagine and adds the best aroma to food. Along with its flavoring quality, it is also known to be a beauty enhancer and used in various cosmetic products.
Saffron comes from the stigmas of fall-blooming crocus bulb of the saffron flower. These flowers are cultivated from fall-planted corms. They are extremely easy to grow as long as you have hot and relatively dry summers to prevent the bulbs from rotting.
Generally, you can’t buy corms on the open market for Saffron of the supreme quality. On a large scale, it’s utterly labor intensive. However, for a home garden, growing and harvesting your own saffron is quite easy.
It is native to the Middle East and commercially produced throughout the Mediterranean basin. The saffron crocus is usually grown from bulbs planted 4 inches deep in mid to late summer; a location with full sunlight and rich, well-drained soil is essential for optimum growth.
Flowering occurs throughout the month of October. Each blossom contains just three colorful stigmas which have to be plucked by hand or using tweezers and dried before use. You need a great piece of land to make much saffron, but indeed it is a beautiful and useful plant worth growing.
Cumin Spice Gardening Tips
It would be unfair if we don’t mention cumin seeds when we are discussing easy spices to grow at home. Cumin is native to the eastern Mediterranean all the way through to East India. Cumin also called Cuminum cyminum is an annual flowering plant belonging to the family Apiaceae, or parsley family, whose seeds are used in the cuisines of Mexico, Asia, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East regions. Cumin plant is a heat-loving plant which requires a long, hot summer of about three to four months with a temperature of around 85 degrees F. (29 C.) during the day. Cumin is planted in the spring from seed in rows 2 feet apart in fertile, well-drained soil or, in cooler climates; you can also start with seed indoors about four weeks prior to the last spring frost. Seeds are sown shallowly, about ¼-inch below the soil surface. You should keep the seeds moist during germination or you can transplant outdoor when temperatures regularly exceed 60 degrees F. (16 C.) or higher. Cumin seed is harvested manually by hand after the maturation of the small white or pink flowers. Seeds are harvested when they start appearing brown and are of about 120 days. Seeds are then dried and ground. The strong aroma and distinct flavor of cumin are due to the presence of its essential oils.
Fennel Spice Gardening Tips
Scientific name: Foeniculum vulgare.
Belongs to the same family as cumin, its crisp anise flavor makes it a much-loved spice of cooks everywhere. Fennel is inhabitant to southern Europe; the fennel herb is now grown throughout Europe, North America, and Australia and grown in herbal gardens all over the world.
Fennel plants produce aromatic fruits which are usually, though incorrectly, referred to as its seeds. Method for how to grow fennel is quite simple since the fennel herb is such an enjoyable garden plant.
For growing fennel, prefer a sunny location in the garden of a well-drained bed. The fine textured foliage can attain height up to 6 feet and makes an admirable backdrop for another flower planting. Fennel is a short-lived perennial that blooms greatest in the second year. For raising fennel plants to sow fennel seeds directly in the garden for top results, as plants will not stand up well to transplanting. Fennel has a tendency to freely reseed if you don’t harvest all of the seeds.
Fennel can be cut back early in the season to support bushier growth and should be deadheaded for seed harvest and to avoid overseeding of new plants as it is known as an aggressive plant. You can harvest and dry the seeds as the flower fades. There’s only one restriction to how to grow fennel: don’t plant it near dill plant because cross-pollination among them results in oddly flavored seeds for both plants!
Fenugreek Spice Gardening Procedure
Scientific name: Trigonella foenum-graecum.
Fenugreek is commonly called ‘Methi’ which is native to Southwest Asia and extensively cultivated for its medicinal and culinary uses. The plant is an all purpose plant. Seeds are utilized as a spice which is used extensively in Indian cuisine, dried leaves as an herb, and fresh and tender leaves as a green leafy vegetable. It is easy to grow whether you live in a warm climate or cool, it can be grown both indoor as well as in outdoor conditions even on containers or ground. You can grow it from seeds. It’s easy even for beginners too. Place high-quality seeds ¼ inches deep in a good potting mix or drained soil in the desired place or container when all the ill effects and probability of frost are passed, and the weather starts to warm up. As a tip remembers, fenugreek doesn’t like to be transplanted. Leave about 2 inches of space for each plant while sowing the seeds. The plant sprouts quickly from seed and you’ll notice seedlings just within 2-5 days.
In favorable conditions, within 20-30 days fenugreek will be prepared for the first harvest. Trim the leaves gently to use them as a leafy vegetable and prepare delicious recipes or you can air dry it to use as a herb. Leave the twigs, which will regrow up again in 15 days. You can harvest like this up to four times. For harvesting fenugreek seeds, you will have to wait for 2-4 months, depending on the growing environment.
Mustard Spice Gardening Tips and Ideas
Mustard (Brassica spp.) is a staple condiment and can easily be spotted in most of the home gardens. This is a plant that withstands a lot of heat, as it will rapidly bolt, which is not beneficial to good quality seeds for harvest. You should plant mustard early in the spring, as soon as the ground can be worked by using seeds. Composted soil is best, and you should stick to a regular watering plan if you receive little rain in your place. Small yellow or white flowers precede seed pods called siliqua which appears in late summer or early autumn. Allow the pods to turn brown on the plant before being picked. After harvesting the pods thresh out the seeds and air-dry the seeds for at least two weeks before storing. Mustard seed is usually used in pickles and in a few dishes.
Paprika Spice Gardening Ideas and Techniques
If you are looking for an answer to question how to grow Indian spices at home then my friend you will certainly come across a list of herbs and spices you can grow at home and that list will be incomplete without paprika similarly as the delicious food is without it. Paprika also seems to impart a smoky spicy flavor better than just about any other spice; it is true to its nature and utilized to spice up the dishes.
Read: Gardening Ideas for Spring.
Paprika spice is resultant of a bell or mild chili peppers (Capsicum annuum) that are dried and ground into powder or flakes. Peppers are easy to grow in pots, and you can even grow several varieties for a blend. Peppers can be cultivated when there is no danger of frost, and soil temperatures have reached about the temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Prefer an area that gets full sun, eight to ten hours a day. Clear the planting bed, soil enriched with compost to addon necessary nutrients to the soil.
All peppers are heat-loving plants that must be cultivated in late spring, and grown throughout the summer. Allow the fruits to mature until it attains a deep red color. In the dry climates of the thin-walled peppers are easily dried by simply hanging them in bunches for air drying or you can also dry them in a dehydrator, or in the oven at the lowest possible heating. Once the peppers are dried to the point of being crumbly, remove the seeds and grind them into a powder with a kitchen grinder.
Bay leaves add their essence and aroma to our soups, stews or any curry they are used in. The sweet bay leaf tree scientifically known as Laurus nobilis is a 40- to 50-foot tall tree native to the Mediterranean region and a member of the family lauraceae. The tree is known to be one of the oldest cultivated tree species. The trees can be maintained at a smaller growth habit if grown in a container, prune back so that it gets no taller than 5-6 feet so that you can move it indoors when the weather gets colder outside. Trees must be planted in well-drained soil with the incorporation of generous amounts of compost for enriching the nutrients in the soil. Bay Leaf plants are tolerant of most soil types. Though an ideal PH range being 6-7, the plant is fairly versatile and can withstand a range of 4.5 to 8.3. Growing a bay tree from cuttings or air layering is the widespread form of propagation. The leaves may be harvested at any time but the best flavor can be obtained from larger and mature leaves. You can keep the leaves out to dry and crush them or use them whole in desired dishes. So you can consider growing this aromatic flavored tree in your garden to have the best tastes.
That’s all folks about different spice gardening ideas and tips.
Read: NFT Gardening in India.