Growing a Garden in the City

Living in San Francisco, we find it inconvenient to do many things. Finding a place to park, BBQ-ing at home, sitting in silence- the list goes on. One thing typically inconvenient has been growing a garden. We are limited by space, nearly no backyards exist, and our lives are so on-the-go that we forget to stop and smell the roses. But an important part of a San Franciscan’s life is innovation. What can we do to fix this problem? So, we sat down and asked, what could a city dweller do to connect with their food and grow their own herbs?

Many of a plant’s nutrients are lost once harvested. We think it’s important to be as close to as many plants as possible, to receive maximum nutrition and enjoy the flavors to the fullest. Here are 5 herbs that you can grow at home. All herbs can be bought from the store and transferred to a pot for indoor growth. It’s easy and affordable!


Rosemary

manuela-bohm-329772.jpg
photo by manuel bohm

Why grow rosemary? Known for its aromatic fragrance, rosemary is versatile and a must have for an indoor garden. Rosemary can boost memory and improve your mood as well as any stress. The herb can reduce inflammation and act as a stomach smoother. Grab a few buds off the stem and you’ve got a DIY breath freshener!

What to Know: This herb is very easily over-watered. It prefers to remain on the dry side and does not need particularly rich soil. The plant can be found at any nursery of home improvement store. If not accessible, take a few stalks from the store, cut down to 2 inches, and plant the rosemary in soil. The soil should be a sterile seed starting mix. Place in direct sunlight and mist daily. Move into larger pots once the plant starts to grow.


Thyme

c-166-thyme.jpg
photo by herbco

Why grow thyme? Thyme holds several health benefits for your insides as well as your outsides. Thyme has been known to help fight acne, keep pests away, and combat head lice. Thyme also helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol, along with soothing coughs and boosting immunity. Thyme goes great with many dishes including steaks, pasta, chicken, and vegetables.

What to Know: This is an herb that requires six to eight hours of sunlight per day, and it may even need supplemental light. Rosemary, thyme, and basil prefer soil with more lime, so adding a spoonful of crushed eggshells to the soil is beneficial. Though herbs are hearty, they do like to be fed once in a while—especially when growing in limited pot space.


Basil

markus-spiske-420568.jpg
photo by markus spiske

Why grow basil? Basil is not only delicious- it’s an herb packed with vitamins A, C, and K, and full of calcium, iron, and folate. It’s known to homeopathic medicine as an anti-inflammatory and aides in healing cardiovascular issues. Throw it on pizza, in a noodle soup, or eat off the stem. Growing basil is easy and will compliment your meals and your life in general.

What to Know: Basil can be bought in store and transferred to its own pot. Like rosemary, it requires soil with lime. Basil is also sensitive to window light, so keep this in mind as the weather changes. Keep away from intense heat.


Mint

Can-Mint-Leaves-Help-Cure-Acne-Scars.jpg
photo by stylecraze

Why grow mint? Because it taste so good! Aside from being great in a mojito, mint is quite good for you. Like many of these herbs, mint is an antioxidant that prevents cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. It relieves stomach and chest pain and is known to strengthen the liver.

What to Know: Mint is very hearty and very invasive, meaning that it can quickly choke out other herbs. Keep in mind that a lot of spearmint is required to produce the same minty effect as peppermint, so if you’re growing it indoors, where space is limited and harvesting is frequent, peppermint is the better option. Start your peppermint plant with seeds—not root or leaf cuttings—in a small pot full of potting soil. Peppermint will thrive in shade, but make sure it’s in a spot where it gets at least a little bit of light each day.


Chives

Chives.jpg
photo by imgarcade

Why grow chives? Chives have antioxidants which help the immune system and helps fight cancer. They are known for their large amounts of vitamin A and B-complex vitamins. They have also been known to reduce high blood pressure. Chives are a part of the onion family. So they add great flavor and crunch when eaten raw.

What to Know: These are one of the easiest herbs to grow indoors, as they do not require much light and are prolific in their production. Chives are easiest to start from an already-established plant. Just pull up a bunch from the established plant (including the roots), place it in a small pot half-full of potting soil, then cover the roots up to the crowns with more potting soil. Cut about one-third of growth off the top to stimulate new growth.

– Zana Faulkner/blogger

 

Start growing these plants in minutes after you pick them up. They’ll give your apartment a nice touch of decor and add complimenting flavors to your meals. They’ll also make your house smell rather nice.

Advertisements

Bravo-cado

Why on Earth are these little fruits (wait, fruits?) so darn good, and so darn good for you?

Cultivated in South America, avocados can be traced back anywhere between 8,000 to 15,000 years ago. The Persea Americana is thought to have originated in the Tehuacan Valley in Puebla, Mexico. Avocados thrive in humid, tropical air, calling South America, Asia, parts of Europe, and Africa home – and evolving several different cultivars humans consume today, each unique to their regions.

nur-afni-setiyaningrum-50103.jpg
Look how beautiful they are.

Avocados came to California in the 19th century. They became a huge cash crop, producing most of the United State’s avocados. And people wonder why Californians are so obsessed…

Avocados have a unique history. They’ve been around for quite some time. They are versatile and provide wonderful benefits to the body (and taste buds).

“Avocados offer nearly 20 vitamins and minerals in every serving, including potassium (which helps control blood pressure), lutein (which is good for your eyes), and folate (which is crucial for cell repair and during pregnancy).

glen-carrie-339678

Avocados are a good source of B vitamins, which help you fight off disease and infection. They also give you vitamins C and E, plus natural plant chemicals that may help prevent cancer.

Avocados are high in fat. But it’s monounsaturated fat, which is a “good” fat that helps lower bad cholesterol, as long as you eat them in moderation.

Avocados are low in sugar. And they contain fiber, which helps you feel full longer. In one study, people who added a fresh avocado half to their lunch were less interested in eating during the next three hours.” Thank you WebMD.

mariana-medvedeva-379625

Avocados may be the greatest gift from the Earth. They are full of nutrients, vitamins, and have several health benefits. No wonder the ancient people of South America took a liking to them. They’re so awesome even Pearl Jam included them on their 2006 studio album, Pearl Jam, aka the Avocado Album. So bravo, avocado!

146705338292a9031c4ea0f53a9f775f9bd6c6958c

 

A Learned Appreciation of Food

Asia is full of flavor.

 

It’s 8:00 PM in California and I’m rummaging through my room, checking for any last minute items I may have forgotten to pack. It was September 2, 2016, and I was headed to India for four months. People would always ask, “Why India?” I would simply respond with, “Why not?”

I am very lucky to have started traveling at a young age. My first trip outside of the country was to the Dominican Republic in 7th grade. I went with my youth group to help one of the partnered families that live down there. I remember it all so clearly. I can still feel the warm, sticky air on my skin and the taste of homemade guava juice on my tongue. The voices of the children playing echo through my head to this day.

I continued to travel through my high school years and into college. I visited the Dominican Republic again. Then Mexico, Africa, Europe, and Hong Kong.  The trips spent with my church did not grant me the culinary experience my 22 year old self wishes she had. But, when you’re in the middle of Swaziland, unable to drink the water, and visiting with children who have HIV, the last thing on your mind is good food. And European food isn’t so bold when you’re on a budget of 15 euros a day. Say no to escargot. Hong Kong was the same. I was able to branch out and try new foods, but I was still limited financially. I began to really appreciate PB&Js, Clif Bars, and baguettes.

I take one last look around my room. I turn to my dad and say, “I’m ready!” I was off on an adventure. An experience that shaped me into a better, more understanding person. And, a person who can’t stop loving food. Especially Indian food.

After almost 24 hours of travel, I land in Mumbai. I head to my new temporary home, a YWCA, settled in the touristic part of the city. Once I started getting used to it all, I fell in love.

I thought I knew spicy. Being Mexican, I take a natural liking to hot things. But oh boy was my world turned upside down. The spices, the flavors, the variety – it was shocking.

I’m going to walk you through my experience in India, one favorite meal at a time. I was able to appreciate the food more than I have anywhere else I’ve traveled. Here are photos of everything I ate there and in Thailand. I think it’s important to reflect on experiences we’ve had and understand where they bring us today.

Flavors we have here: Spicy, salty, sweet. Tomato, chili and spinach bases, freshly grilled seafood, yogurts with herbs, salty grains, dosa made with coconut, tender chicken, lot’s of onions. Coriander, cumin, mint.

Now let’s discuss the street food. Getting a meal in a restaurant is great and all. But if you really want to challenge yourself and your bowels, you must get street food. And these snacks or light meals are by far the best. My favorites included Pani Puri and a seekh kebab.

 

Okay, street food also comes in the form of chaiwalas and samosa walas.

 

Now let’s talk Thailand. 

I worked at a Thai restaurant for the majority of college. I had a week between the end of my program and Christmas. I knew what I had to do. I booked my flights to Bangkok, Phuket, and Chiang Mai. Once again, my world was changed.

Flavors of Thailand: lemongrass, basil, mint, coconut, lime, tamarind, mango, onion, cilantro. Warm soups, hot broths, refreshing and crispy vegetables.

I think I ate soup at least twice a day while there.

Asia’s flavors are bold. They are tangy, spicy, and sweet all at once. Thanks to Asia, I truly understand flavor.

 

 

Thanks for reading!

– Janie