Located near southern Europe and southwest Asia, North Africa has been home to a diverse group of people over hundreds of years. This cultural diversity, as well as the area’s strategic location along the spice trade route, has contributed to North Africa’s unique cooking style. The secret to the region’s mouthwatering culinary fare is largely dependent on a huge variety of North African herbs and spices and Moroccan herb plants.
Herbs for North African cuisine aren’t easy to find in most supermarkets but, fortunately, growing a North African herb garden of your own isn’t that difficult. Read on to learn how to grow North African herbs.
About North African Herbs and Spices
North African cooks depend on complex blends, some containing more than 20 different North African herbs and spices, often mixed with various oils or ground nuts. A few of the most popular, and their major ingredients, include:
Ras el Hanout
- Hot chili peppers
- Various North African herbs and spices, along with lemon juice and olive oil
How to Grow North African Herbs
The climate in North Africa is primarily hot and dry, although nighttime temperatures can drop below freezing. Plants grown in the region are able to tolerate extreme temperatures and most can withstand periods of drought.
Here are a few tips for growing a North African herb garden:
North African herbs and spices thrive in containers. They are easy to water and can be moved if weather becomes too hot or too cold. If you decide to grow in containers, fill the pots with good quality, well-draining commercial pot mix. Be sure the pots have adequate drainage holes. If you’re growing herbs in containers, be sure the pot has a chance to drain thoroughly before you return it to the drainage saucer.
If you grow herbs in the ground, look for a spot that receives filtered or dappled shade during hot afternoons. Herbs prefer evenly moist soil, but never soggy. Water deeply when the surface of the soil feels dry to the touch.
Insecticidal soap will safely kill most pests that invade North African herbs and spices. Harvest herbs generously as they ripen. Dry or freeze some for later use.