How to grow ingredients at home
Growing your own ingredients at home is easy & fun and has 3 main advantages:
- Instant supply of fresh ingredients – You will have your own fresh ingredients available throughout the year.
- You can grow the best variety of herbs & vegetables – the varieties often used by top chefs but not sold in many shops
- Specialised ingredients – In addition it will allow you to grow specialised ingredients essential for cooking authentic meals. More details in our fresh ingredients growing plan section.
Key herbs & vegetables to grow at home
If you want to grow your own ingredients then the key is to start by growing ‘all purpose ingredients‘ which are most often used in recipes. For example:
- Basil – Sweet or Genovese
- Coriander – Leaf Coriander
- Mint – Spearmint
- Thyme – French or Common
- Rosemary – Tuscan Blue
- Chives – Plain
- Parsley – French or Curly Leaf
- Garlic – Hardneck or Softneck
- Peppers – Sweet Bell (Green, Yellow or Red)
- Tomatoes – Cherry
Not only are these the ingredients that are used most often, but we have specifically selected these varieties for their flavour and ease of growth.
How to grow your fresh ingredients
There are 3 different ways you can grow them:
A. Growing Herbs in the kitchen.
Using either a table top hydroponic or a aquaponic unit.
This is ideal if you want to have an instant supply of herbs available for cooking.
For example a simple table top unit (like the one on the right) is a very easy way to grow a number of the herbs in your kitchen, living room, etc.
However the key is to select those key herbs that have a similar height and growing cycle:
- Sweet or Genovese Basil
- Average Height when grown 60 to 75 cm
- Time from seed to harvest – 50 to 75 days
- Leaf Coriander
- Average height when grown 45 to 60 cm
- Time from seed to harvest – 60 to 75 days
- Average height when grown 30 to 45 cm
- Time from seed to harvest – 90 days
- French Thyme
- Average height when grown 15 to 40 cm
- Time from seed to harvest – 85 days
- Plain Chives
- Average height when grown 30 cm
- Time from seed to harvest – 60 days
- French Parsley
- Average height when grown 45 cm
- Time from seed to harvest – 70 to 90 days
B. For taller plants.
Such as tomatoes, peppers, etc.
Another method to grow your ingredients indoors is to use an automated hydroponic system linked to extra artificial light to ‘lengthen the days’ and generate crops all year long. (For more details follow the links further down the page)
It sounds more difficult than it is, and it’s the system used by many commercial growers to grow the tomatoes you buy in supermarkets – and there is no reason you can’t simply use it at home.
The best type of ingredients to grow are:
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Average height when grown 60 to 90 cm
- Time from seed to harvest – 60 to 90 days
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Average height when grown 180 cm or more
- Time from seed to harvest – 40 to 80 days
C – Rosemary & Garlic
Growing in pots or soil outside
The systems above (using hydroponics & light) is great for herbs and ingredients like tomatoes as it’s very easy and will help you get faster results.
There are however 2 crops we wouldn’t recommend to grow indoors:
- Tuscan blue Rosemary
- Average height when grown 90 cm
- Time from seed to harvest – 40 to 50 days
- Hardneck Garlic
- Average height when grown 50 cm
- Time from seed to harvest – 250 days
We usually recommend growing both rosemary & garlic outside in soil.
The reason for rosemary, is that there is a danger of root rot when using hydroponics. Easiest option is to plant it in a pot with soil (indoors or outdoors). Hardneck garlic is not available in most shops, and tastes much better than softneck garlic. However it takes a while to grow, and really needs cold winters for best results (although you can alway put it in fridge for a while & then plant). However, like all garlics they do smell when growing – which is not ideal when growing indoors.