Spices from your pots to your garden

Workshop on Spices from your Pots to your Kitchen

India produces a variety of spices. Spices are used in different forms – whole, chopped, ground, roasted, sautéed, fried, and topping. Indians love food that has a blend of different flavors, and the blend happens because of the many spices at our disposal!

But wouldn’t you like to have fresh spices grown at your own home? So, learn how to grow these Indian Household Spices and watch this workshop on ‘Spices from your Pots to your Kitchen’ with our speaker Deepika Joshi, a hardcore gardener who loves gardening and also owns a terraced Garden! She has always been keen on experimenting with her plants, sharing them, and inspiring people through her YouTube Channel https://bit.ly/3mGHZbZ. She also has an active Facebook page Deepika’s Terrace Garden: https://bit.ly/2Y3Kue5.

Deepika’s tips for growing spices at home:

“Hello, everyone. Welcome to another workshop by TAOS. Today we have with us, Miss Deepika. She is an expert in spices. Today, she will tell us about them, which spices can be grown at home, how we can grow them, etc. So, let’s start without any further delay. 

“Hello, all. Today as she said, I’ll be telling you about spices. They form an integral part of our everyday food, especially with our increasing consumption of spicy and fast foods. Such spices used in our foods include tej patta, kali mirch, elaichi, dalchini, oregano, etc. We can grow them all at home and use them in our places. There are certain things to consider in this regard, such as the spices we buy at the market are prepared by rigorous processes, but at home, you can grow them easily too. You can ensure more healthy spices by growing them at your home. Now, I’ll show you the plants I am currently growing on my terrace and tell you about how you can grow them as well.

The first one is elaichi, known for its exclusive flavor and is also considered very holy, from everyday sweets to worship. You just need to take one leaf of this plant, soak it in water for some time, and then you can use it in your beverages. For foodstuff, just cut a few leaves and follow the same process. You’ll get your flavor, and at the same time, you’ll get the necessary nutrients,” said Deepika.

“So, did your plant get elaichi, or is there still time?”

“The best time for that is the rainy season; it grows actively. Till that time, you can easily use its leaves for the same purpose.”

“The next plant is an all-spice plant, which in Hindi is the kabab chini plant. Its fruit is mostly used in curries. Its flavor gives you both tej patta and dal chins’s essence. There is another specialty of this plant which is that no dirt will ever remain on its leaves.”

“We can store cut leaves of this plant too?”

“Yes, sure. For flavor, cut the fresh leaves and then let them dry somewhere. It will be completely dry in two days, then store them in an air-tight container and use them anytime you need. Sometimes, the leaves would dry up while in the plant, and I mulch those leaves. These plants are actually very useful in the sense that you can use their leaves, stems, bark, and almost every part. I will try to propagate this plant using the stem. I have this habit of growing plants hydroponically since they grow easily in water. However, I believe air layering is the best method to propagate the plants,” said Deepika.

“Please elaborate on this process of air layering.”

“Air layering can be used to grow any type of plant; even beginners can use it. In the process, when we are propagating from a stem, we just need to air layer the articular stem that we are willing to propagate. Then, we need to wait for about a month till it grows new roots. Once that has come, we will take off the stem and plant it in new soil. There is a 100% probability of the plant growing by this process.”

“That is actually a new process for us, and it happens to be quite interesting,” said Ishika.

“Now, the next plant I will show is the black pepper one. It is quite a big plant. You will find a root in every node. There is also fruiting in this plant. It needs humidity, sunlight, etc., in the right concentration, or else it won’t grow properly.  

Certain things need to be kept in mind when growing spices:

  • You can plant them in pots. However, make sure you do not need to repot them many times as it would disturb the plant. In that case, use a 10-liter bucket. Use a cloth inside the bucket so that the plant isn’t disturbed by heat. You can grow it in the bucket for the first year, and then you can repot it. The spices will grow beautifully.
  • For plants that grow fruits, a good amount of sunlight is essential, so make sure you provide that.
  • I make my own compost and only buy a little from outside. Only one handful of it in a month is all for all of my plants. 
  • Plants can have a dormancy period, too, when they might show negative growth.
  • The soil is also very important. Use sand, leaves, little fertilizer, and regular garden soil in your soil mix.
  • Neem Khali is also important to prevent any disease or to keep pests away. 
  • After bringing your plant home, repot it after 8-10 days, by which it would have settled in the environment.

“The next plant in line is lemongrass. Its leaves are actually used for its flavor, especially in tea. I use it in making rice. It gives a great essence to the rice. It is asked not to use with milk, though,” said Deepika.

“Yes, lemongrass is indeed pretty common in tea.”

“So, next, I have a dalchini plant, which I have grown using the air layering process. It actually grows into a very big tree, and we use the dried bark of the plant. In our case, we can use the leaves of this plant to serve the same purpose.”

“If we put lemongrass in rice, what change will we experience?”

“It will give a very slight change in flavor. It will be more like an essence that will be added using it.”

“Which would be the best fertilizer for herbs?”

“For herbs, the dried leaves can be a very good option. You can also use decomposed cow dung as fertilizer. Even vermicompost can be added. What needs to be kept in mind is that it should be properly decomposed in nature.”

“Give some tips to grow chilies.”

“First thing is, whatever packed spice is coming to your house from the factory, do not use them in growing new spice plants. It would be a waste of time. To grow it from seeds would take a lot of knowledge that we lack. Always buy the plant from nurseries and then propagate them.

Coming to chilly, either grow it from freshly bought chilly from the market, or you can grow it from dried red chilies. Firstly, soak it for about half an hour in water. After that, if you think you have good quality, problem-free soil, you can plant them. Else, you can treat the soil by adding fungicides, and then you can add seeds. Sow it in double the depth of the size of the seed. For watering, keep a container underneath; the soil will soak the water. Cover it with paper for two days, post which keeps it in sunlight. Germination will start soon, after which you can repot the plant.”

“How soon can we can cut a plant growing by air layering?”

“It takes one month before you can transplant it to a separate pot. It is a rough figure; sometimes, the roots will develop in fifteen days also.”

“Can dried expired spices be used as mulch to prevent snails?”

“If there is no infestation, yes. If it is infested with termites, keep it in the open. Birds will eat up the termites, and you will get to use it then.”

“How do we propagate the elaichi plant?”

“You’ll have to buy the first plant. After that, you can propagate it from the mother plant itself. You won’t be able to propagate it from the seeds.”

“The next plant is a Margerum plant. In Pizza, we generally sprinkle oregano, but actually, Margerum is present in a greater concentration in that because it has a very strong smell. You can use it at your home along with basil seeds, and it will give a great taste.”

“That’s a great hack. We did not know about this!” said Ishika.

“Then we have the oregano plant. This plant’s leaves are very useful for treating acidity and gastric problems. Other than that, you can make fritters, chutney, etc. In Hindi, it is called the Ajwain plant.”

“Is it not widely known as the Ajwain plant itself? It gives off Ajwain’s smell itself, so how do you differentiate?”

“The two are slightly different only. The smells are pretty analogous, and if you will search on Google, you will get to see the same-looking plant.”

 “That was an amazing session. Thank you so much for joining us today.”