Grow Your Own Spice Garden
Grow Your Own Spices
Vegetables, herbs and even fruit abound in kitchen gardens, but (in temperate climates, at least) it's not often you come across a gardener who is growing their own spices. And yet there are spice plants that grow quite happily in cooler weather, and are easy to grow. Many of these are very ornamental plants that add a great deal to the garden, or attract beneficial wildlife.
And most spices are low-maintenance perennials that will add a great deal in the kitchen, without adding much to your workload in the garden. Check out these easy-to-grow spices today!
According to James Wong, the strappy leaves of vanilla grass (aka pandan) are a far easier house plant than a dull old spider plant & will provide you with a fresh supply of custardy, biscuity vanilla-scented extract to transform even the most plain spongecake into a cloud of oven-fresh deliciousness.
In Southeast Asia vanilla grass is a standard dessert flavour, found in everything from ice cream to chiffon cake to coconut rice pudding, being way more popular and delicious than the dried up podded version. And with its ability to dye any food it is stirred into a pale jade green, with a faint fragrance of fresh mown grass, it will leaves your mates totally stumped as to the secret ingredient in your emerald ice cream.
Pandan is a tender perennial, and will need to be kept indoors during cold weather, but the hardest thing about growing it will be tracking down a plant!
James Wong's Incredible Edibles - James Wong's forthcoming new book
James's idea is simple and revolutionary. For 100 years, gardening books have said the same old thing about growing the same old fruit and vegetables. But in the wider world, as well as closer to home, there is a huge variety of delicious and often simple-to-grow incredible edibles suitable for temperate climates. Often common plants grown for flowers, like fuchsia, have delicious fruits or hips but we have long forgotten their use as edible plants. As the demand for 'home-grown' produce increases, this is the perfect time to introduce a whole new range of tasty, healthy and productive alternatives to the humble spud or lettuce. And who better to blaze the trail than the vastly knowledgeable and enthusiastic James Wong who tells us what to grow, how to grow it, and how to cook and eat it as well as the special properties of 100 new plants.
James Wong's latest book (due out on September 2012) highlights all kinds of exotic edible plants that can be easily grown in the UK or US - including many spices.
The saffron crocus (Crocus sativa - make sure you get the right one, as all other crocuses are poisonous) is a lovely, ornamental garden plant and very easy to grow. Not only do you get stunning autumn flowers, but the 3 red stigma each flowers produce are the world's most expensive spice - you can harvest it right from your own back yard! Listen to episode 21 of the alternative kitchen garden show to find out more.
Indoor Plants : Growing a Spice Garden Indoors
When growing a spice garden indoors, make sure you find a sunny window to start from. Create a beautiful spice garden indoors with help from a third-generation flower grower in this free video on growing houseplants.
Cardamom is a tropical, tender perennial that has to be kept indoors during cold weather. In its native climate it flowers and then produces cardamom pods, which are a common spice used in Asian cooking. When cardamom is grown as a houseplant, it won't flower - but its lovely fresh leaves can still be used as a spice. Use them to infuse rice (a bit like a bay leaf) or to wrap parcels of chicken and fish.
If you buy root ginger at the market, and it starts to sprout, you can plant it up and grow some more! Ginger is a tender perennial, and has to be grown inside in cold weather. A small section of root planted in spring will become a large root by the time the leaves die down for the winter, or you can let your plant grow for a second season before harvesting.
Growing Spices from my Kitchen
I will be growing Kalonji & Ajwain in my garden this year. I take this opportunity to tag anyone who would like to grow a spice from their kitchen and post a response video. :)