How to grow your own herbs in humid Hong Kong
Hong Kong's humid spring weather is a warm change from the winter, but some illnesses such as the flu pick up during the change of seasons. Aside from your doctor's standard health advice, having a healthy body fed with the right nutrition is the best defence.
Fresh herbs are essential to a healthy diet, and they're easy to incorporate into most dishes. They can be expensive to buy, however, so why not grow them at home to save money and enjoy fresh produce.
Here are our top picks of healthy and delicious spring herbs easily grown indoors:
This all-purpose green garnish is rich in various vital vitamins, such as A, B12, C and K. It helps keep your immune system strong, and removes excess fluid from the body to naturally cleanse your kidneys. It can top many dishes - try sprinkling it on fish and seafood or sautéing with minced garlic to add a fresh zing.
Chives are packed with vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre that improve your metabolism and digestion. The crunchy texture is a great complement to foods such as risotto and they're also wonderful in salads.
This classic culinary herb is an excellent natural cough remedy. It contains flavonoids that help relax tracheal (windpipe) muscles and reduce inflammation. Thyme is a versatile herb that goes nicely with most meat, fish and vegetables. You can sprinkle it to enhance the flavour of a great number of Western sauces, marinades, stews and soups.
This Mediterranean herb has antibacterial properties which improve the body's ability to fight infection. It is also a great source of antioxidants, which protect the body from the effects of free radicals. Its strong flavour goes well with meat and vegetables such as eggplant and tomatoes. Oregano is the standard herb used on Italian pizzas.
Grow your own herb garden
- Cultivating a herb garden might seem impossible in Hong Kong's tight living spaces, but a number of herbs can be grown in small indoor spaces, and just a few pots can supply you with great condiments and the nutrition that you need all year long.
- Light is the most important element in growing indoor herbs. An ideal spot for your herb garden provides at least six to eight hours of light per day. Rotate pots regularly to ensure even exposure.
- Most herbs suffer from overwatering. Test the soil before you water and ensure good drainage by drilling holes at the bottom of pots.
- Regular clipping helps herbs grow, but avoid cutting more than one-third of the herb at once. If you buy a herb that flowers, you can clip them off as they affect the growth.
- Be creative with your herb containers: clay pots, plastic containers, styrofoam boxes and even mason jars will all do the job.
- For a great shortcut, buy a herb growing kit, and for an instant herb garden, buy small pots of herbs from the flower market.
Ann Cha and Angela Cheng Matsuzawa are the founders of Punch Detox, Asia's first cold-pressed juice cleanse company. punchdetox.com