Fresh herbs add great flavours and a generous dose of micronutrients and fibre to your food. But they’re not always easy to find. Then, why not grow them on your window sill.

Fresh herbs are like stardust for your dish, they can really make it sparkle with flavours. Plus, they add a generous dose of micronutrients and fibre to your food. But they’re not always easy to find, and often obnoxiously priced. The solution: grow a few herbs in your home and relish the fresh flavours. No, you don’t need a kitchen garden, we tell you how.

Curry Leaves

Curry leaves are widely used in Indian cuisine. The leaves don’t just add great flavour, but are a storehouse of vitamins A, B, E, as well as iron, magnesium and other micronutrients. In addition to being good food for your skin and hair, curry leaves are great for your ticker and keep your liver healthy.
Grow It: In a large pot so that it gets good space, since the plant shoots up. Keep the soil always moist,” suggests Adrienne Thadani, Founder of Fresh &Local, Mumbai?. In case you want it to be bushy and not tall, keep pruning it at intervals.
You can either harvest the seeds or use a cutting from the matured plant, the former is a slower process.

Mint

Used generously in coolers, chutneys, salads and as a garnish, Mint is a must-have in an Indian home.
Grow it: from cuttings. Keep these in a jar of water for few days till the roots are visible, before shifting to a pot. Ensure adequate water and sunlight for healthy green leaves.
Pro Tip: “Mint loves shaded spots. Grow a variety of mint—spearmint, peppermint or Japanese mint—on your balcony,” adds Ms. Thadani. Trimming can help the plant to branch out. The trimmed leaves can planted in other pots or consumed.

Lemongrass

Lemongrass is a citrus flavoured grass. It is extensively used in Asian cuisine and has several health benefits. Grow them in your balcony, so you can pluck and add to your tea, stews and soups.
Grow it: Buy a stem with a root ball--most supermarkets will leave the root with the greens. Else you can pluck out a stock from a potted plant. Soak the stem in a jar of water till the roots appear (in about 10-15 days) before you pot them.
Pro Tip: “The plant grows well under plenty of sunlight and regular watering,”

Coriander leaves

A favourite Indian garnish, coriander is also commonly used in Latin cuisine. It is a storehouse of Vitamin C and has nutrients that are good for your skin. It also reduces allergies and ulcers.
Grow it: Sow the seeds in a pot, the germination takes few days. The plant requires bright and direct sunlight and loamy soil.
Pro tip: Spread the seeds and give them room to grow. Once the seeds have germinated, the plant requires relatively less water.

Italian Basil

A variant of the Indian Basil, Italian basil is taking over our palate and plates!
Grow It: Scatter the seeds in moist, nourished soil.
Pro Tip: “Just like lemongrass, Italian basil blooms well under bright sunlight. Extreme watering is not good for Basil, just water it enough to keep the soil moist,” suggests Thadani. Pluck the flowers that grow on the plant to retain the flavours of the leaves. Prune the leaves to encourage branching.

Dill

Dill leaves, popularly known as Suva in Hindi or Shepu in Marathi, is used in salads and stews, and cooked as a bhaaji in India. The plant attracts friendly insects that improves the health of your vegetable patch, but getting rid of pests.
Grow It: In rich soil, by sprinkling Dill seeds.
Pro Tip: Prune the leaves and use it in your salad. When the plant grown to a certain length, pluck out the entire stock. Just like Basil, do not let the flowers grow on this plant.

Rosemary

This evergreen plant with needle-like leaves and blue flowers can also be a part of any home décor. The stock is mainly used in Mediterranean cuisine. The herb helps in detoxification (be specific) and is heart healthy.
Grow It: By planting 3-inch cuttings (with no leaves at the bottom) in a well-drained, sandy soil. Give the shrub plenty of sunlight for better results.
Pro Tip: “If you have sunny balcony, Rosemary should definitely find a spot on it,” says Adrienne Thadani.

Bonus Tips: Pay attention to the soil quality, make sure your soil is well-drained and rich in nutrients. Scratch the soil with your fingers and water when you feel it is dry. Pay attention to your plants, if they look unhealthy, watch if they're getting enough sunlight, water and other nutrients. Check the size of the container. Ready, steady...Grow!

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