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FloridaGardener's Blog
Apr 17

Written by: host
4/17/2013 7:09 PM

It is no secret that every chef's best friend in the kitchen is some fresh produce and herbs but it isn't always that easy to come across. Yes, you can go to the grocery store or local organic market to buy produce but why not take it an additional step closer to organic and try growing your own garden?  For virtually every recipe this summer, try these 5 things that every chef needs to make their kitchen complete.

1. Basil

From a caprese salad to homemade pesto sauce, basil is the main ingredient that makes every Italian dish pop and luckily, growing basil isn't too difficult of a task to manage.

How to grow basil

The good thing about growing basil is that you can grow it anywhere from the windowsill of your kitchen to a pot on your patio--All it needs is a good amount of sunlight and moisture. 

If you are growing basil indoors, the task might be a little more daunting because it requires more understanding to make sure that the plant is getting at least 6 hours of sunlight a day and checking for moisture every other day. That being said, make sure to place your basil plant in an area of your house that receives the most sunlight. 

If you are growing basil outdoors, make sure not to start growing it until the end of springtime when the temperatures are a little warmer; as basil can't thrive in cooler temperatures.  Plant basil in either a large or small pot on your patio and move to an area that receives   a significant amount of sun but not too much.  Check the soils moisture level every other day to make sure that your plant is receiving enough moisture and nourishment.

2. Thyme

Whether you're spicing up a pasta salad or simply adding flavor to chicken breast, thyme is something every chef needs in their garden.  Hearty and easy to grow, thyme needs a lot of sunlight and gritty soil. Plant both indoors and outdoors in order to create the best possible thyme from your garden. 

3. Cilantro

Unlike basil, cilantro thrives primarily in cooler weather from fall to spring.  Cilantro is one of the fastest growing herbs and is great to add to virtually any Mexican cuisine.  Whether you are making fresh pico de gailo or topping off a Mexican style salad, cilantro will add the zest that every Mexican dish deserves. 

How to grow cilantro

Cilantro plants can grow quite large and should primarily be planted in the outdoors.  Much like other harvest crops, cilantro seeds should be planted in the fall before any frost has arrived and will really start to sprout around the end of April or beginning of may. However, once the warmer weather sets in, your cilantro plant will most likely start to wilt and diminish.

4. Lemons

Lemons aren't just for Lemonade-- add an element to surprise at your summer barbeque with homemade lemon bars or a delicious lemon drop cake that will leave your guests wanting more.  It is no surprise that citrus trees like lemon trees only thrive in hot and humid climates but if you are fortunate enough to live in a climate that supports citrus trees, give it a try.  Lemon trees require lots of sunlight and typically go into dormancy once temperatures hit below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, but if nourished correctly they can be grown both outdoors and indoors.

Growing Lemon Trees Outdoors

When growing lemon trees outdoors be conscious that they only like warm climates and need a lot of sunlight. Therefore, plant trees in deep soil on the Southside of your home.  If you live in an area that is susceptible to morning frost, plant your tree closer to your home in order to provide an extra element of shelter against harsh cold climates.

Growing Lemon Trees Indoors

Lemon trees surprisingly make great house plants but like any other house plant they need a sufficient amount of sunlight and water.  When planting your lemon tree in an indoor pot, make sure that the pot is large enough to supply the trees root system with a sufficient amount of room for growth.  Remember to keep indoor temperatures about 55 degrees Fahrenheit in order to prevent your tree into going into dormancy.

Mint

Make homemade mint chocolate chip ice-cream or whip up some delicious mojitos for a summer time refresher.  Whatever you are growing mint for, make sure to have fun with it! mint plants are some of the heartiest plants out there and should only be grown outdoors because they spread quickly and grow fervently.  Chances are, you'll have leftover mint to sell at your restaurant counter or to simply give away to neighbors as a kind gesture. 

 

Tim Adams has a huge love and passion for culinary arts. He enjoys cooking, baking, food, and gardening. In his spare time, Tim is an activist for protecting the environment.

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