How to Grow Bay Leaf for Cooking How to Grow Bay Leaf for Cooking
Bay leaf can be used as an ingredient in a variety of recipes. It can be used to flavor soups and pasta among other dishes. It is easy to grow bay leaves at home as it is an evergreen tree. It survives well in a wide-range of temperatures and soils. It can be either potted or grown directly on the land. It can grow to up to 60 feet in height, though many are pruned to keep them at five feet height.
Growing Bay Leaf
Growing a bay tree from seed or cuttings can be difficult. It is best to get a sapling and replant it. While planting it ensure that the soil covers the stem up to the level it was in the soil earlier. This will ensure that the tree grows well. If planting in a pot ensure that the bottom of the pot has potsherds and then a layer of soil and finally a layer of compost and animal manure.
Maintaining Bay Leaf for Healthy Growth
The soil in the pot needs to be well drained as otherwise the roots of the bay tree will rot. Fertilizing the soil is needed only twice a year. As the tree does not require too much water, let it dry out between watering spells. However, if the weather is too hot, please do ensure that you water it regularly.
The plant needs to be repotted every five years. Its roots are not very strong, so take care when weeding that you do not damage the roots. This is an essential point that has to be kept in mind when growing the bay tree.
Water the plant regularly and prune it every spring. You can prune the bay tree into various shapes such as round or pyramid. It grows well and the leaves can be collected and dried in a cool, dry place for a week before being used for cooking. Fresh bay leaves are stronger than the ones you get in stores, so use the bay leaves with care.
If planted outside, the bay tree needs to be covered and mulched in winter. If you plant the bay tree in a pot, then bring the pot indoors for the winter months. Leave it on a sunny window as this Mediterranean plant requires plenty of sunlight to grow well.
Container grown trees look good on the patio as well as indoors. They add a touch of Mediterranean charm to your living space.
Sometimes the bay tree sheds all its leaves. If this happens, do not panic. Instead add compost and water it well. Prune the tree to a height of six inches above the soil level. New shoots will appear in spring. It will soon give out fresh leaves.
Only Leaf is Important
The bay tree flowers in spring and has fruits in autumn. However, it is the leaves that are most aromatic and used in cooking – not the flowers or fruit.
Bay trees are essentially easy to grow and maintain. All they require is regular watering. Composting needs to be done only twice a year and pruning once a year. For this they yield handsome quantities of bay leaves for your kitchen.