You can save on grocery money and improve your green thumb at the same time, thanks to the many natural ingredients you can grow in your garden. These are simple and extremely beneficial plants to take care of, since they produce delicious food perfect for your cooking. Any gardener or chef should keep these important plants in mind for growing your own personal supply of green ingredients!
1) Green Onion
Green onions are just about the simplest crop you can grow from the comfort of home. These strong, tangy greens can bring out strong flavors in a wide variety of dishes. To grow green onions, buy a few stalks and use them like normal, but be sure to save the bottom bulbs instead of throwing them away. Then, place them in a jar, with enough water that only their tops are not submerged. Place the jar on your windowsill and just watch them shoot up. You can snip off bits anytime you need, or you can continue to grow them and watch them become hardy and strong. After about four inches, you should plant them into some good gardening soil if you want to see them continue to grow. Green onions are a fast-growing garnish, so you should have a good supply in no time!
Potatoes are another hardy crop that will give you as much reward to reap as you give them space to flourish. You can grow small batches of potatoes in buckets or smaller containers, but if you give them their own bed, they can produce huge numbers. Start by getting seeding potatoes, ones preferably with eyes already sprouting. You’ll want to cut these potatoes into smaller pieces and give them a few days to callous. Then just bury them, about 6 inches deep in dirt, and give them a weekly watering. When they start to produce vines, you should mound some dirt or straw into hills around the base of the vines, since potatoes grow best in mounds. When they start flowering, they are ready to harvest, but will be rather small. You can wait until the vines start to wilt for larger potatoes. These starchy crops are a great, healthier replacement for traditional grains like wheat. Enjoy some baked potatoes or fries once you’ve finished growing them!
Strawberries should be planted in the autumn or spring, depending on your location. Ideally, they should be planted in the warmer seasons, since they tend to wither and recede during winter and cold weather. Like these other ingredients, they require good soil, sunlight, and weekly watering. These plants can really benefit from consistent clipping. They will produce offshoot plants that are connected to the main strawberry plant, but these will actually be a waste of their energy, so it is best to clip them off. That way, the main plant produces higher quality strawberries. Enjoy these delicious, sweet fruit as a snack or cook them into your fruity desserts!
Chilies might be one of the slowest growing plants on this list, but you’ll find that they are worth that wait. You should start growing them inside for a few weeks to give them a chance to get stronger, and then transition them outside. They really appreciate warmth and sunlight, so make sure you give them spots where they can get plenty of each. You’ll want to water them weekly, about an inch of water. You should keep their soil moist at all times, especially for indoor chilies. They’ll also do well if you mix in some compost with their soil, giving them some extra nutrients. Once they’ve grown, chilies will go great with your meals as a source of heat and flavor.
Rosemary requires a bit of assistance on your part, but is also simpler in other aspects. It doesn’t require high quality soil, fertilizer or compost, or lots of water. However, you will want to keep it outside during the daytime to get plenty of light, and bring it inside during the nights. Rosemary doesn’t do well with the cold, so you should also avoid growing them during winter seasons. Simply scatter some seeds in dirt, cover them with another layer of dirt, and keep them warm and moist. It should take them two or three weeks to get substantial. Rosemary is a great seasoning for meats, soups/stews, and salads, so pick off some sprigs, dry them, and save them to add an extra flair to your cooking.
Celery is another relatively simple ingredient to grow. Similar to green onions, all you need to do is keep the bottoms of celery you’ve used, place them in a jar with water, and give them some sunlight. They might rot if they’re fully submerged in water, so you can use toothpicks to keep them suspended a bit. Once they’re about an inch long, you can plant them back in the ground for a more fruitful growing process. These crunchy greens can be an incredibly healthy snack with peanut butter or hummus. You can also use them as a base for vegetable stock, or add some crunch to your other recipes.
Tomatoes are a very versatile cooking ingredients– they make great sauces, go well with cheese, and are used in all types of dishes from all over the world. Tomatoes are another crop that doesn’t do well with the cold, so you’ll want to time your tomato growing carefully. If you start with just the seeds, they’ll do best indoors, but if you start with anything more, you can begin outside. They’ll need plenty of sun and lots of water early on. Once they are more established, you can lower the amount of water you give them. Enjoy these juicy sweet fruit on their own or cooked in a bigger dish!
Cress is yet another plant that you can start with just the base and some water. They grow well in cold temperatures, so these plants should actually stick to the shade. Depending on your type of cress, they can take different times to grow, but they are generally quick growing. Once they’re substantial, you should transition them to soil. These greens are filled with spice and flavor, making them a great addition to salads, sandwiches, and soups.
Garlic is a very common ingredient in most recipes, so it’s very useful and efficient to grow your own supply to enhance your cooking. Growing garlic bulbs can even keep pests away from your garden, since they cannot stand the crop. Be sure to plant them strategically to keep away the bugs. Separate the cloves of garlic, and plant them about a foot apart. Make sure they can get plenty of sunlight and that their soil never gets dry. Most importantly, ensure your garlic has a nutrient rich soil to maximize their growth.
Our final ingredient is the cool, refreshing mint. Mint grows best in smaller pots and containers, since they can tend to leech nutrients from other plants. If you grow your mint indoors, make sure it gets plenty of water. Otherwise, it needs a light mulch and a decent amount of sunlight. These plants don’t require much, so their crisp, powerful leaves are well worth a try in your own garden.