ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Grow Your Own Spice Garden

Updated on April 14, 2013

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!

Pandan
Pandan

Vanilla Grass

Pandanus amarilyfolius

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 Homegrown Revolution
James Wong's Homegrown Revolution

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.

 
Saffron
Saffron

Saffron

Crocus sativa

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
Cardamom

Cardamom

Elettaria cardamomum

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.

Ginger
Ginger

Ginger

Zingiber officinale

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. :)

Spice up my page! - Leave a comment :)

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • asereht1970 profile image

      asereht1970 3 years ago

      Thank you for sharing this informative lens.

    • profile image

      dessertlover 4 years ago

      Awesome lens! I'd love to grow my own spices, just think of the flavor that would add!!

    • profile image

      Aunt-Mollie 4 years ago

      I love vanilla grass, but lemon grass is my absolute favorite. There is research underway right now that has already proven that lemon grass has cancer-fighting properties and a real cure might come from this soon.

    • anne mohanraj profile image

      anne mohanraj 4 years ago

      Very informative! Nice lens!

    • Alana-r profile image

      Alana-r 5 years ago

      Wonderful lens, thanks for all the info, must set about trying to grow these at home.

    • Elyn MacInnis profile image

      Elyn MacInnis 5 years ago from Shanghai, China

      I have grown ginger in the garden - and it works just fine. When the plants are young and have red tender stems at the bottom of the plant you can harvest them and then pickle the new tender ginger and roots. Yum!

    • Elyn MacInnis profile image

      Elyn MacInnis 5 years ago from Shanghai, China

      Love these ideas - I am frequently away from home, and plants will dry up, but when I get settled I will definitely try this.

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 5 years ago from Australia

      Hah! You don't need any extra spice. Easter and Spring Blessings.

    • N Beaulieu profile image

      N Beaulieu 5 years ago

      Great ideas on growing your own spices. I think I'll give ginger root a try. Congrats on getting featured!

    • orange3 lm profile image

      orange3 lm 5 years ago

      I love growing my own herbs and spices. Ginger is a great addition to a garden.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Congratulations for being featured on Squidoo's 2012 Spring Gardening Showcase

    • AnnaMKB profile image

      AnnaMKB 5 years ago

      A great idea! Ginger is one I've started, but it didn't survive. Crocus Sativa would be well worth the effort!

    • profile image

      juliet765 5 years ago

      Thanks for reminding us of how easy it really is to take time to grow things.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 5 years ago from San Francisco

      I am currently experimenting with oregano, parsley, cilantro and mint in my north and east facing windows. Not sure they'll get enough light, but I've harvested a few bits here and there. But I must try your vanilla leaf plant, if I can find it!

    • lbrummer profile image

      Loraine Brummer 5 years ago from Hartington, Nebraska

      Congrats on your Best of Gardening 2012 Lens. Very good information.

    • Steph Tietjen profile image

      Stephanie Tietjen 5 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      Vanilla grass looks very interesting. Also cardamom. I'll be tracking down the vanilla grass...I think I can just plant one of my cardamom pods. Thank you

    • empathzone profile image

      empathzone 5 years ago

      I had my first tiny herb garden when I was living on an apartment on the 10h floor. What is very cool about herbs is that they grow in small pots in any place with sun. Thanks for putting this lens together, I learned many things I didn´t know!

    • julescorriere profile image

      Jules Corriere 5 years ago from Jonesborough TN

      I used to have an herb garden, but I never thought of growing cardamom-- I love to use it in my Indian cooking. Congratulations on making the Best of Squidoo 2012 Gardening Lenses. Blessed!