Who's That Foreigner On My Windowsill?!

Phirang Herbs in Mumbai

We all know the trusty go-to's of every desi kitchen - lemongrass, curry leaf and chillies. Eminently suitable to our tropical climate, they grow without fuss in good sunlight and soil. Chillies may give you a hiccup now and then (!), getting depressed during the monsoons or catching white flies and dying dramatically, as is their wont. But generally, this trio is happy to hang in Mumbai.


Let's suppose you now want to expand culinary production and grow "non-Indian" herbs...or just do the Simon and Garfunkel trip to Scarborough Fair :-) Here's a quick rating of what works, or won't, in aamchi Mumbai, starting with Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme....


Parsley

Rating: Great in Winter

Requirements: Semi-shade, well-draining soil and regular watering.

What to Know: Parsley grows as a seasonal in Mumbai. It's sensitive to high temperatures and is challenged past March. So, buy in November and enjoy it till then, as it adds terrific beauty to any herb collection and it's cheaper to garnish your X'Mas/NY meals with fresh cuttings, than run to the grocery store for tiny sachets of overpriced Parsley.


Sage

Rating: Uh-Oh, Not Really...

Requirements: Semi-shade, well-draining soil and sparse watering.

What to Know: Sage is a perennial but rarely lasts long in Mumbai as it gets quite bothered in a tropical climate. It's possible to grow it easily in winter, but would need air-conditioning and a semi-shaded windowsill to make it through our high heat and humidity months of April, May and October.



Rosemary

Rating: Definitely Worth a Shot

Requirements: Full sun, well-draining soil and sparse watering.

What to Know: Rosemary is a perennial but does stretch its life once its stems start turning woody. It tolerates Mumbai's heat and humidity very well but can get grouchy with our relentless monsoons and would need indoor, light-filled protection those months.


Thyme

Rating: Definitely Worth a Shot

Requirements: Full sun, well-draining soil and sparse watering.

What to Know: Like Rosemary above, Thyme is also a perennial that starts to phase out once its stems become woody. It can brave through Mumbai's heat and humidity but goes berserk with our monsoons and can die overnight if it's had too much rain. So, grow it indoors those months, and give it lots of light.

Sweet Basil or Italian Basil

Rating: Go For It ASAP

Requirements: Semi-shade to full sun, well-draining soil and regular watering.

What to Know: Basil is a perennial but tends to be an annual in Mumbai. Sprightly early growth is seen through flower production, then it declines as stems turn woody. Grows well outdoors in all seasons or on a sunny windowsill indoors. Prune off flower heads regularly and re-plant sturdy green stalks for new saplings end of every season.

Marjoram

Rating: Definitely Worth a Shot

Requirements: Semi-shade to full sun, well-draining soil and regular watering.

What to Know: Marjoram is an annual. It is sensitive to extreme heat and humidity, so move it to semi-shade during our summer months and protect it from excessive rainfall during our monsoons. Growing it indoors on a sunny sill, or under grow lights, would suit this plant best during those months.



Oregano


Rating: Definitely Worth a Shot

Requirements: Semi-shade to full sun, well-draining soil and regular watering.

What to Know: Like Marjoram, Oregano is an annual. It is sensitive to extreme heat so move it to semi-shade during our summers and protect it from excessive rainfall during our monsoons. Growing it indoors on a sunny sill, or under grow lights, would suit this plant best during the monsoons.



Lemon Balm/Chocolate Mint/All Types of Mint

Rating: Go For It ASAP

Requirements: Semi-shade to full sun, well-draining soil and regular watering.

What to Know: Mint is basically a hardy plant. Once rooted, it takes care of itself and can withstand our heat and humidity pretty well. It needs to be pruned regularly for bushy growth. Grows well outdoors or on a sunny windowsill.



Celery

Rating: Great in Winter and Monsoons

Requirements: Semi-shade to full sun, moisture-retentive soil and deep watering.

What to Know: Celery likes it wet and humid. So the monsoons and even our winters, are great times to try this herb/vegetable. Averse to high temperatures, celery's growth will slow down during summer months, and possibly end naturally when it can take it no more. So, grow it in the right months and enjoy it when you can!



Thai Basil

Rating: At home in Mumbai. Go For It ASAP.

Requirements: Full sun, well-draining soil and regular watering.

What to Know: Thai Basil is a hardier variety of basil that is completely at peace in Mumbai. It grows as an annual but will often shed seed and give rise to saplings around it, to take you into the next year. Prune off flower heads regularly and enjoy growing and regrowing this plant forever more!


Well, now you know! So,invite some foreigners to your windowsill or garden, those ready for Mumbai, whenever you are ready for them :-)




#herb #basil #thyme #rosemary #sage #marjoram #oregano #mint #balmmint #lemonbalm #chocolatemint #windowsill #kitchengarden #spice


(Images in this post are sourced from the Internet. Please contact re objections/credits, thank you!)

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