Is it a Herb or is it a Spice?
The difference between herbs and spices is simply the part of the plant used.
The leaves and flowers of a plant are generally regarded as the herbs, while the seeds, roots, stigmas and even the bark are considered to be spices.
For many thousands of years, herbs have been considered magical plants – humans have used them for millennia as food and as medicine. Those who knew what to do with herbs were sometimes treated with suspicion and sometimes revered.
Spices, on the other hand, were shrouded in mystery until recent times – their exotic nature and origins were mythologized by the spice traders over the centuries to keep the prices as high as possible.
in our present information-packed world we can have it all, and growing herbs and spices at home is one of the most satisfying projects anyone can take on.
The proven medicinal properties of ginger, for example, make it a food crop well worth growing. Ginger is a rhizome and has been grown in Asia since ancient times.
In recent years science has found that ginger has properties that aid digestion, travel sickness and various other minor ailments. So, along with its culinary delights, ginger is a spice you should definitely grow at home!
In temperate climates, ginger should be grown in pots indoors all year round, unless we have a particularly hot summer, then the plants could go outside. Use well-drained pots about 35cm (14in) in diameter to allow rhizomes to develop. A pot of this size should be big enough for two or three plants.
As long as it hasn’t been treated with any chemicals, a piece of ginger from a grocery store could get you started. Use pieces with ‘eyes’ that will eventually shoot (like you do with potatoes really). Don’t let the pots dry out but also, they mustn’t be waterlogged. Regular watering in well-drained pots should do it!
The wonderful taste of herbs and spices can encourage even the most jaded palate to enjoy good food again. And the more good food we eat the less we want the stuff that is not so good for us! This is an extract from the popular Herbs & Spices book. Find out more here: Herbs & Spices
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Happy Herb Gardening!