You don’t need a farm, or even a backyard to grow your own herbs. You can make a seasonal kitchen herb garden on your balcony or terrace! Get to know how to sow and grow herbs with limited space, the benefits of each, and healthy herb recipes so you can enjoy the herbs of your labor.
You want to grow fresh herbs and take advantage of the mental health benefits of gardening and the physical advantages of eating more fresh herbs (1). Just because you live in a small space, doesn’t mean you have to miss out on freshly grown produce. To create your little garden of eating, there’s a few things to keep in mind.
There are lots of varieties of containers you can use such as pots, baskets, or planters. Find the ones that work best for your specific space. For instance, if you’re limited, try hanging them from the ceiling or wall, or attach them to your balcony railing. Go for the lighter ones, over heavy terracotta, especially if they are being suspended on the railing of your balcony.
Check out how much sunlight your balcony gets and what time of day. This can help you figure out how to expose them to the right amount of light without having them dry out. Most plants need about 5-6 hours of sun per day but some plants thrive with more shade. When getting the seeds or plants, check to see how much sun they require, then place them in a spot that suits their sun preference.
The elements, such as wind, bugs, and birds can get the best of your precious garden. Consider how your balcony is set up and what may be a threat to your plants. You can buy or make something like a shelter to protect them from the wind and use screens to keep the bugs and birds away.
So now that you know how to keep your garden growing, let’s talk about which herbs are best for your balcony and the benefits of each!
Mint is cooling and soothing, yet one of the hardiest herbs out there. Its strength can overpower other plants, so it’s best to keep it confined by setting up barriers in your soil or keeping it in its own pot. It best grows in partial shade.
Mint is great in fresh teas, smoothies, or on top of healthy desserts like yogurt parfait. It’s rich in vitamin A which helps eye health and iron which is important for oxygen transport (2).
Rosemary thrives in warmer climates and likes full sun. If you live in a cold region, consider bringing it indoors for the winter. When it comes to watering, it’s better to underwater them rather than overwater them.
This nice smelling and hearty herb pairs perfectly with meats like chicken, lamb, or beef. It’s a rich source of antioxidants which help decrease inflammation in our body.
Basil is a sun lover, up to six to eight hours per day unless you live somewhere very warm. To promote more branching and better the taste, remove the inner section once it starts to flower. Basil plants need consistent moisture without overwatering.
Basil has an almost sweet and spicy flavor which goes great in pastas, salads, and other Italian influenced dishes. When it comes to our health, basil has been shown to contain nutrients that can help improve our blood sugar levels, boost skin health, and balance mood (3).
Thyme also thrives in heat and sunshine so plant it in a spot that gets sunlight. It needs to drain well so make sure it's not overwatered and that the bottom of your pot has holes so the excess water can go through.
Thyme goes perfectly with savory dishes such as soups, meats, and vegetables. This herb fights acne and lowers blood pressure (4). It also contains nutrients that can help improve our immunity, such as vitamin A and C.
Parsley grows best in soil that’s well drained so water it about once per week. It’s an easy one to grow indoors if you prefer to have it by your window sill. When it’s harvest time, cut the stocks close to the ground.
Parsley is most often used as a garnish but this plant also adds some nice bitterness to a dish. Some studies show it's been used to prevent high blood pressure and inflammatory conditions like diabetes (5).
Cilantro is another one of those sun lovers, however it's best to put it in the afternoon shade if you’re in a warm climate. Make sure your soil is fast-draining and water it every couple days.
Cilantro may provide benefits such as reducing the risk of heart disease and obesity. It also has a powerful antioxidant called quercetin, which can protect against cell damaging oxidative stress.
Let’s put that garden to the taste test! Pick some of the fresh stuff you have and sprinkle in the flavor and nutrients! These and many more herb-a-licious recipes are found in the Lifesum app!
Ingredients (6 servings):
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