How to Grow Spices At Home


* This article contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure.

 

Lots of people have herb gardens, but not everyone has a spice garden! Learn how to grow your own spices at home with this step-by-step guide.When I first learned that there was someone successfully growing spices like ginger, turmeric, cumin and vanilla at home in North Carolina, my mind was honestly blown. I had honestly never considered it could even be possible to grow “exotic” spices like these at home in North America. But Tasha Greer, author of the brand new book Grow Your Own Spices is here to prove that it’s not just possible to grow spices at home in most gardening zones, but that you can actually improve your garden and sharpen your skills 

Whether you’re a new gardener or you already have a bit of experience, growing a few spices at home can help you increase your harvests and expand your gardening skills for all of your crops. Here’s how…

 

The 3 types of spices, and how to grow them at home

 

Seed Spices

Seed spices like dill, fennel, fenugreek, nigella, cumin, sesame, mustard, and caraway are excellent for boosting overall crop production and learning seed saving skills.

Seed spices must flower to produce abundant seeds. Those flowers are not only critical to spice production but also perfect for attracting beneficial pollinators to your garden.

The more pollinators you attract, the more fruitful your other pollinator-dependent plants like cucumbers, squash, apples, peaches, etc. will be.

Also, growing and harvesting seed spices employs the same basic skills as saving seeds to plant in the garden. You must plan for pollination, identify the perfect time to harvest, and store those spices like you would heirloom and open pollinated garden seeds.

Once you know how to grow and harvest seed spices, you’ll be ready to save seeds for your vegetables too. 

 

Related: 13 Culinary & Medicinal Herbs You Can Grow At Home

 

Underground Spices

Growing spices like ginger, turmeric, garlic, wasabi, and horseradish for their harvestable underground parts is also a great gateway to expand your understanding of soil amendments and good watering practices.

Spices harvested for their rhizomes, roots, enlarged stems, and bulbs require deeper, more fertile soil than many of the shallow-rooted annuals grown in a typical vegetable garden.

To achieve that kind of soil, you must become skilled at making soilless potting mixes or amending your native soil with aged compost and other aerators like leaf mold or coconut coir to promote drainage. You will also need to maintain soil fertility using liquid fertilizers like homemade compost tea to get the best yields.

Learning to make your own potting soil mixes, improving native soil, and maintaining soil fertility to grow underground spices are key skills that will also make a big difference when applied to your vegetable production.

You’ll also need to master the art of deep watering to ensure moisture and nutrients are available in the root zone for those spices.

Deep watering takes longer at first as you need to slow soak your beds and containers to allow the water to penetrate and saturate fully. Yet, after a few deep waterings, your soil will begin to hold moisture longer so you can water less frequently going forward.

By trading the habit of watering shallow soil daily, for watering fertile soil deeply and only as needed, you drive roots, organic matter, and soil life further underground where it’s easier for nutrients and moisture to remain stable and available to plants. Also, plants with deeper roots are naturally more drought and disease resistant.

Practicing these skills while growing underground spices, then applying them to your other crops, can dramatically improve your yields throughout your vegetable garden.

 

Perennial Spices

Perennial spices such as cardamom, vanilla, cinnamon, and peppercorns require a long-term commitment to care. Yet for those of us who don’t live in a tropical climate, they are also fantastic teachers that can help us learn to create our own microclimates for growing plants outside their native habitat. Plus, you can keep them indoors part, or all of the year, to add stunning beauty to your indoor home space.

Lots of people have herb gardens, but not everyone has a spice garden! Learn how to grow your own spices at home with this step-by-step guide.

Cardamom and patchouli growing side by side.

 

Creating microclimates for growing spices

Microclimate creation can seem daunting at first. But really, it’s just a matter of adapting the skills you already use to keep your home comfortable for the health of your plants. 

Your home is a microclimate!

As an example, most of us like to cool our homes to about 78. Yet we may only heat our homes to 68 degrees. This is because our tolerance for heat increases in summer just as our comfort zone for cold expands in winter. So, we adjust our thermostats seasonally to accommodate our tolerances.

For perennial spices, it’s the same. They need more heat during their active growing season but can tolerate cooler conditions when daylight diminishes. In some cases, our comfort preferences coincide directly with our plants’ needs.

As such, our homes are often the perfect environment for many spice plants too. To grow spices indoors, though, you may need to make a few adjustments to your indoor conditions with respect to the following. 

 

Humidity

Tropical and subtropical spices like more humidity than humans typically do. Keep a bowl of water near your plants or run a small humidifier in their vicinity. Or mist the plants with a gentle spray of water regularly to increase humidity.

Additionally, grow several humidity loving plants close together. They will work together to create a humid mini-ecosystem.   

 

Light

Spice plants also have specific light requirements for peak productivity. For example, black pepper and vanilla like bright, filtered sunlight such as through the leaves of a taller plant. Young cinnamon likes part shade but mature cinnamon likes full sun.

Cardamom is adaptable to anything from full sun to part shade while growing. But it needs full sun once it is mature enough to start flowering.

To achieve the right light for perennial spices at home, start them on the outer perimeter of the light radius of your sunny side windows. Then move them closer to the window every few days until you find the light level they love. Also the shade side of the plant toward the sun every few days so you get equal sun all around.

Spices are quite responsive to changes in light quantity. When you get it right their leaves will appear more supple, glossy, and perky. When you get it wrong, they’ll look lackluster and depleted. It’s kind of like us in bad lighting!

Keep in mind, you’ll also need to adjust plant position throughout the year as the sun angle changes. Also note, areas around windows can be cooler than the rest of your house in winter. So, you may need to make environmental adjustments to keep plants tropical warm near cool window areas. Alternatively, use indoor grow lights if you don’t have a warm, sunny window available.

There is so much to learn from growing a variety of spices for seeds, underground parts, or perennial harvests. Moreover, all the skills you use to keep those spices healthy are directly applicable to your annual vegetable garden and perennial food plots. So, why not pick a few and get started?

 

3 exotic spices to try growingat home

Here are three of my favorite spices that are fun, relatively easy to grow, and highly rewarding for beginner and advanced gardeners alike!

 

1. Fenugreek

(Full sun, cool season annual, grown for seed)

Lots of people have herb gardens, but not everyone has a spice garden! Learn how to grow your own spices at home with this step-by-step guide.

Fenugreek is a nitrogen fixing legume that grows great outdoors in the ground or in pots. It takes 3-4 months from planting seeds to when you’ll harvest seeds. You can find seeds online through various herb and heirloom seed sellers.

Fenugreek is self-fertile which means you can get seeds with just one plant. However, you’ll want to plant several together to harvest for spice and attract pollinators with its incredibly fragrant aroma. 

  • In early spring, after risk of frost, soak seeds for a few hours immediately prior to planting. Then plant about ¼ inch deep in prepared garden soil. 
  • Grow 3 plants together in a 2-gallon pot. Or grow 4 plants together per square foot in your beds.
  • Otherwise grow fenugreek as you would bush-type spring peas.
  • Allow the fine, narrow pods to dry on the plant.
  • Shell small batches like tiny dried beans or thresh/winnow larger batches.

 

2. Turmeric

(Part to full sun, tropical, perennial grown as an annual)

Lots of people have herb gardens, but not everyone has a spice garden! Learn how to grow your own spices at home with this step-by-step guide.

Turmeric is grown much like ginger. However, its large wide leaves, resembling banana leaves, make for a more impactful house or patio plant.

Turmeric grows best when temperatures are above 70. It’s stressed by temperatures below 55. Grow it indoors in cold weather and move it outdoors in warm weather. Alternatively, in areas with warm fall conditions and late first frosts, you can start it indoors and transplant it outside when your tomatoes go out.

  • Order a turmeric “mother” from a reputable supplier online. These are usually delivered pre-sprouted for early spring planting.
  • Plant the mother 2 inches deep in a 3-gallon pot filled with a compost rich potting mix.
  • Grow in a sunny window, indoors until you put your tomatoes out. Then move the pot to a wind protected, full or part sun location outdoors. Or continue to grow indoors in a very warm, sunny location.
  • If transplanting to outdoor garden beds, start indoors in a 1-gallon pot of aged compost. Then, transplant the entire contents of the pot into beds with deep, rich soil once temperatures are consistently above 55.
  • Fertilize turmeric weekly while watering using compost tea or organic liquid vegetable fertilizer.
  • Harvest rhizomes starting in late summer once they are of sufficient size for fresh use.
  • For drying, long-term storage, or to save and replant next year — wait until the leaves begin to die naturally in fall to harvest.
  • Use the fingers that grow from the side of the mother as spice. Save the mother (central body of the rhizome) to plant again in spring.
  • To dry, boil the fingers to soften then dehydrate and powder.

 

3. Vanilla

(Filtered-light-loving, tropical perennial)

Lots of people have herb gardens, but not everyone has a spice garden! Learn how to grow your own spices at home with this step-by-step guide.

A new vanilla cutting just starting to climb.

Vanilla is a vining orchid that grows in forest litter. It’s also an epiphyte that attaches to (but doesn’t harm) taller plants using aerial roots.

  • Buy vine cuttings or pre-started plants online.
  • Start it, or pot up, in a 2-gallon pot of orchid soil mix.
  • As it grows, give it trellising to support its length. The vine must grow up 3-5 feet then grow back down to flower. Lattice type trellises, or a wide board, will allow the plant to zig zag up and down in small spaces.
  • Vanilla feeds on decaying bark and leaf matter. Top off your pot with fresh orchid soil mix as needed to keep it nourished. Also, use orchid plant food or compost tea one monthly to feed the microorganisms that help decay the soil mix.
  • For happy vanilla, keep the growing medium constantly moist but never boggy.
  • Aim for relative humidity above 60%. Mist the vines in dry conditions.
  • Keep it above 60 in winter and as close to 80 as you can get it from mid-spring to fall.
  • When it begins to flower, in about 3-4 years, hand pollinate new flowers each morning using a toothpick. Here’s a wonderful video tutorial that shows you how. 

–> Check out this video to learn how to pollinate vanilla flowers.

 

A world of spices to discover

These three examples are just the beginning of all the amazing spices you can grow at home. There’s a whole world of spices out there to explore.

Let the adventure begin!

 

Want more??

P.S. Want more? The October 2020 issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine is all about spices: from their fascinating history to how to grow and use them at home. Subscribe now for FREE and get the latest issue delivered straight to your inbox!

P.P.S. Click here to preorder Tasha’s book, Grow Your Own Spices and get it as soon as it’s available this December!

 

 


CATEGORIES
HOMESTEADING
REAL FOOD
NATURAL LIVING

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

ABOUT ANNA
Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
You Might Also Like
How to Season Cast Iron Cookware

How to Season Cast Iron Cookware

Cast iron cookware is seeing a comeback. While it’s one of the oldest types of cookware still in use today, cast iron fell out of fashion in the mid 20th century when other types of cookware such as aluminum, stainless steel and Teflon-coated non-stick pans gained...

read more

How to Render Lard (Using a Slow Cooker or Stockpot)

How to Render Lard (Using a Slow Cooker or Stockpot)

When it comes to homesteading skills, learning how to render your own lard is high on the list of things that will have you feeling like you’re channeling Ma Ingalls in your kitchen. Of course, us modern homesteaders know there’s absolutely no shame in using modern...

read more

Winter often gets a bad rap for being the coldest, darkest, dreariest season of the year, when life as we knew it in the summer ceases to exist.

But winter offers us a much-needed reprieve from the busy-ness of the rest of the year;

A time to slow down, rest, reflect and dream;

A time to give ourselves over to the projects, hobbies, crafts and activities that we just don’t seem to have time for the rest of the year;

A time to devour books, soak up knowledge, learn new skills and sharpen old ones.

The winter issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine showcases just a few of the many unique activities, projects and opportunities that this season affords us the time to immerse ourselves in.

Here’s what you’ll find in this issue:

✨ Inspiration and ideas to help you make the most of winter on the homestead
🌱 The many ways to put a greenhouse to use all year long
🥂Homemaking tips for the holidays (and beyond!) with Homemaker Chic podcast hosts Shaye Elliott & Angela Reed
🍴Holiday recipes & comfort foods, featuring Honey Taffy, Mulled Wine and Winter Squash
🪵 Winter woodworking tutorials with The Humble Handyman and Anne of All Trades
❄️ And more!!!

To read the full issue AND get instant access to our entire library of past issues (26 value-packed issues and counting!), click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to https://modernhomesteadingmagazine.com

P.S. When you subscribe during the month of December, you’ll also get a coupon code for a free one-year subscription that you can gift to someone you love!

Give the gift of self-sufficiency this Christmas —> https://modernhomesteadingmagazine.com
...

We’re all familiar with eggnog, but have you ever wondered what “nog” is anyway, or how this decadent holiday drink came to be?

The general consensus is that eggnog originated in England in the 17th Century and was made with eggs, milk and some sort of alcohol (aka. “nog”).

It may have even been enjoyed earlier than this, as a similar beverage called posset (a hot, milky, ale-based drink) has origins dating back to the 13th century.

As I was researching this topic, I found at least one source that claims eggnog was created by mixing alcohol with eggs and milk earlier in the season when egg and milk production was at a high. The alcohol was used to preserve the dairy products so that they could be consumed during the winter months when egg and milk production was low.

It was originally made with sherry or brandy, but when eggnog reached America it was typically spiked with rum because rum was easier to come by. Eventually some people started substituting American whiskey.

Nowadays we can drink eggnog with or without alcohol, but traditionally eggnog was always an alcoholic drink that wealthy folks (who could afford milk and eggs and alcohol) would use to toast to their prosperity.

Eggnog has remained a favourite beverage around Christmas time; One that most of us are accustomed to buying in a carton from the grocery store. But like most processed foods, store-bought eggnog is often loaded with additives like high fructose corn syrup and thickeners.

This holiday season, why not make your own eggnog instead?

All you need are fresh eggs, milk, cream, sugar and a little nutmeg (and an optional cinnamon stick) to garnish.

If eggnog is on your list of holiday must-haves but you’d rather avoid the processed grocery store stuff and make your own with fresh ingredients, you can grab the full recipe via the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead or by visiting https://thehouseandhomestead.com/old-fashioned-homemade-eggnog-recipe/

What’s your position on eggnog? Do you love it or hate it? And if you spike it with alcohol, what alcohol do you prefer?
...

One of the things I love MOST about homesteading is that it empowers us to become producers of goods rather than merely consumers.

It allows us to become less dependent on outside sources to provide for us because we can provide for ourselves.

But that doesn't mean we don't need any outside help or resources ever when we're striving to become more self-sufficient. In fact, it's even more important that we have the right tools, equipment and resources on hand so that we can be more self-sufficient and consume less overall.

Every year around this time, I compile a list of my favourite things: Things that I love and use on a regular basis, and things that I know other modern homesteaders will love too!

This year I've narrowed it down to my top 10 favourite things; Things I've been using for long enough now that I know they're a great investment and I can feel confident recommending them to others.

For the most part, these are things you're going to buy once and never have to replace.

I put a lot of thought into this year's list, made some ruthless cuts to last year's list and added a couple new things I've come to love over the past 12 months.

If you're looking to invest your money rather than waste it this holiday season –whether you're taking advantage of sales for yourself or looking to buy for others on your list– you have my personal guarantee that the items on this year's favourite things list are well worth the money.

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/favourite-things/ to check out the full list if you’re looking for the perfect gift for yourself or for another homesteader on your list, or if you’re just curious to see what we use around our place:)

What are some of your favourite homestead-y things??
...

🥧 Wanna know the secret to a perfect, flaky pie crust EVERY TIME??

It all comes down to 3 simple rules…

Rule # 1 - Keep your butter (or lard) as cold as possible.

Freeze it even!

The colder the better when it comes to the fat source in a pie crust because you want the fat to stay solid until it melts in the oven. Then when it does melt, little air pockets will remain in the crust which is what makes it flaky and light (instead of everybody’s least favourite alternative: chewy and dense).

Rule # 2 - Keep the fat content as high as possible.

Fat equals flavour, and also helps keep the crust light and flaky.

Consider using whole fat milk instead of water, along with your butter or lard.

Rule # 3 - Don’t overwork your dough.

Unlike bread, pie crust should not be kneaded and should actually be handled as little as possible.

The more you work your dough, the more gluten strands will form, and which is what makes bread (and sadly some pie crusts) chewy.

Work your dough only as much as necessary to form a dough ball before you put it in the fridge to chill. The less you touch it, the lighter, flakier and more delicious your pie crust will be!

At the end of the day, homemade pie crust is almost always better than store-bought, but you’ve gotta follow a few simple rules to knock it outta the park.

I’ve spent a lot of time perfecting my own flaky pie crust recipe, which I use for sweet and savoury pies alike.

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead for more tips and to get the full printable recipe or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/flaky-pie-crust/

What’s your favourite kind of pie? Answer with an emoji below!

(Mine’s 🍒;)

#pie #homemadepie #thanksgivingrecipes #homesteadkitchen #piefromscratch #fromscratch
...

The worst part about every holiday dinner is being stuck in the kitchen cooking while everyone else is just enjoying each other’s company.

The second worst part is store-bought cranberry sauce —You know, the kind that makes that oh-so appetizing slurping noise as it slides out of the tin and into the bowl, still shaped like the can it came out of.

Homemade cranberry sauce is stupidly easy to make and tastes SO much better than store-bought. Plus you can add spices to put your own delicious spin on this holiday classic.

While it takes just a few minutes to whip together homemade cranberry sauce on the big day, you can make it ahead of time and either refrigerate it (up to 3 days), freeze it or even can it to enjoy later!

Canning is my favourite method of preservation when it comes to homemade cranberry sauce because I can make it well in advance and I don’t have to worry about remembering to defrost it ahead of time.

Canning it means you’ve always got a jar of made-from-scratch cranberry sauce ready to go in your pantry long before you’re ready to set the table (and trust me, it’s a lot prettier coming out of a Mason jar!)

Plus you can make enough for both Thanksgiving AND Christmas, all in one go, and even keep enough on hand to enjoy mixed into yogurt, oatmeal or over ice cream whenever you like!

Now is the time to start your holiday dinner preparations to ensure you don’t spend all day in the kitchen and get to soak up as much valuable family time as possible.

Yesterday I shared my family recipe for homemade Perogies, which you can make ahead snd freeze. Here’s just one more recipe you can make ahead of time and preserve to make your life easier this holiday season.

Recipe link in bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/spiced-homemade-cranberry-sauce/

Have you ever made your own cranberry sauce from scratch, or will this be your first time??

#cranberrysauce #fromscratch #homesteading #homesteadkitchen #canning #preserving #thanksgivingdinner #christmasdinner
...

Did you know that the fragrance industry has a stockpile of over 3,100 synthetic chemicals that they use to concoct their signature fragrances?😬

And get this: Because of trade secrets, they’re not even legally required to disclose the list of chemical ingredients in their products! 😱

Luckily, there’s an easy, affordable synthetic-chemical-free alternative…. Make your own DIY home and body sprays with essential oils and all-natural ingredients!

If you wanna learn how, you can check out my DIY Home & Body sprays Masterclass for FREE today only by joining me and a whole bunch of other simple living bloggers for the last day of A Cozy Gathering.

Learn how to create your own all-natural sprays, craft handmade rope coil baskets, cook delicious and nourishing winter soups, make herbal honey infusions and more!

If you’ve already signed up, be sure to check your email for the links to all of today’s presentations!

And if you haven’t signed up yet, there’s not much time left, so click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to https://bit.ly/307P0cT to sign up and watch for free before it ends tonight!

You also have the option of purchasing lifetime access if you miss it:)

I’ll be making more of these for Christmas gifts this year, along with candles and baskets of goodies from our pantry 😊

Let me know if you’ll be making some too!
...

I woke up this morning and it was still dark as night.

The rain was pelting down on our roof and the wind was howling.

Outside it was cold and dreary, but inside I lit my morning candle, turned on the soft white fairy lights we have strung in our kitchen, put a few drops of oil in the diffuser and snuggled back under the blankets with a hot cup of coffee before it was time to “officially” start the day.

I just love this time of year!

I talk a lot about seasonal living, mostly because as a homesteader, you have no choice but to live with the seasons.

You’re either starting seeds and planting in the spring, tending your garden in the summer, preserving in the fall or sitting by the fire in the winter as you eat from the larder full of food you worked so hard to put up the rest of the year, and dreaming about starting all over again in the spring.

Our success as homesteaders really does depend on us changing up our routines and making the most of each season, though this can sometimes feel easier said than done when the weather outside is dark and miserable.

But there’s something magical and deeply nourishing about this time of year, should we choose to embrace it for all it has to offer.

If you’re looking for a little help or inspiration to help you approach the winter months with intention and make this season as cozy, joyous and restful as it can be, I’m so excited to invite you to A Cozy Gathering: a 3-day virtual summit featuring 16 expert speakers, giveaways, and a lifetime’s access to a wealth of information and actionable ideas for simple-living during all four seasons (but especially fall and winter!)

The summit starts on Monday, November 8th and is completely FREE to attend.
OR you can upgrade and get instant, lifetime access to the entire summit, including all of the presentations and exclusive bonuses for just $47 (until Sunday only).

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead to register for free and save your seat, or purchase instant, lifetime access to A Cozy Gathering!

Tell me, what’s your favourite thing about this time of year??
...

We woke up to a killing frost the other day. If you’re a farmer, gardener or homesteader, you know what that means…

It means our days to get everything done outdoors are numbered.

It means we need to make sure the chickens and rabbits have fresh, warm bedding.

It means we need to finish putting the garden to bed, which includes adding a layer of compost and mulch to feed and protect the soil until we’re ready to plant again next spring.

It means tidying up our tools, putting away our hoses and making sure the water’s turned off so it doesn’t freeze.

So much of life as a homesteader is dictated by the weather and the seasons, and while that can often mean a mad scramble to get everything planted, harvested and/or put to bed, there’s something invigorating about every seasonal transition and shift. It gets my adrenaline going!

But it’s still work. Nobody said that the “simple” life would be easy!

But it’s precisely that hard work that makes falling into bed each night so gratifying. It’s the feeling of a day well spent and a job well done.

If you’re looking for some tips on what to do now before the ground freezes solid to make sure you’re ready for winter AND ready to start all over again in the garden next spring, be sure to check out the fall issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine, which is full of tips and advice to help you wrap up the growing season and get a head start on the coming months.

As always, a little bit (more) hard work right now will definitely make life easier down the line.

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead to subscribe and read the latest issue if you haven’t yet, or go to www.modernhomesteadingmagazine.com

#homesteading #homesteadersofinstagram #simplelife #selfsufficiency #winteriscoming
...

Fact: You can use a cast iron skillet to cook your food, get extra iron in your diet and even to ward off criminals!

These are just a few of the benefits of cooking with cast iron. Wanna know more??

Click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/7-benefits-of-cooking-with-cast-iron

Do you cook with cast iron? If so, what do you like most about it? Let me know down below!👇

#castiron #castironcooking #homesteadkitchen
...

© The House & Homestead | All Rights Reserved | Legal