On witnessing empty shelving and limited access to produce last spring, many people started thinking about gardening. Growing food can be a magical experience if you have three conditions, sunlight, soil, and water! The ideal situation is a window receiving southern exposure for a minimum of six hours daily. If not, consider buying a four-tier greenhouse; heating pads, intended for plants; and one or two grow lights. If you desire to harvest herbs, fruits, and vegetables, the cost is inexpensive! Creating the ideal conditions allows anyone to produce an edible garden.
Seeds require a lighter soil to transition into a plant; therefore, either purchase a “seed starter soil” or mix one cup of potting soil to two-cups of vermiculite. Made from compressed minerals, it absorbs water as it expands, providing air pockets.
Tip: Soil loses its nutrients after expending it on a plant. You can toss a previous year’s soil in a compost; however, do not reuse it after one year. The plant will not reach its full potential, and likely lack the nutrients to develop fruit.
Always feel the soil with your finger before adding moisture. If it adheres to your finger, don’t water. Dryness will require a few squirts from a spray bottle. Overwatering will kill your plants!
Tip: Do not use cold water on your plants. Try to refill the bottle at night to ensure it reaches room temperature by its next use.
What Can I Grow?
Basil: Most herbs have the potential to become quite bushy. Rather than keep herbs in your greenhouse, move them to the kitchen for ease in extracting leaves and to minimalize their size. Snip off a stem of basil and add it to water until roots form. You can have basil throughout the year!
Tip: Don’t let your herbs go to seed. Research how to dry or freeze for future use.
Cilantro: While some herbs sound delicious, ask yourself if you really plan to use them. Do you enjoy cooking savory dishes? Cilantro needs partly-sunny days, roughly 3 to 4 hours.
Chives: If you successfully grow chives in your garden, consider digging out a clump at the end of the season for potting. Leave it in a cool, dark spot for a few days before placing it in your sunniest window.
Oregano: As a Mediterranean herb, it needs plenty of direct sunlight and little water. Keep trimming to maintain its health and fullness.
Rosemary: As a woody plant, you can keep rosemary year-round without needing to prepare a cutting! It can become bushy; so, try and separate it, gifting plants to friends.
Fruits and Vegetables
Carrots: In a 12-inch pot, use seed tape to grow six to eight-inch carrots; especially Oxhearts, resembling a triangle; or Parisienne, a round carrot. Use a popsicle stick to mark each vegetable, and include dates of harvest.
Lettuce: Fortunately, depth isn’t a requirement; however, the plant needs width, such as a window planter box, especially if it comes with a self-watering feature. Since lettuce matures quickly, plant weeks apart, in order not to be overwhelmed with the harvest.
Strawberries: A self-watering basket is ideal for growing strawberries. Choose to hang in a window and enjoy the arrival of fruit.
Potatoes: Do you have space for a five-gallon bucket? Potatoes are one viable possibility. Only one plant per container!
Tip: Sprinkle crushed eggshells on the surface or bury a banana peel in the soil. Plant matter will decompose and release vital minerals and vitamins, boosting the plant’s health!
Tomatoes: Buy only one or two healthy plants (unless you plan on giving seedlings to friends). The goal is to support the size of the plant with its root system. Plan to use a three- or five-gallon bucket with a deep saucer. (Remember, it’s going to need water!) Rather than disrupt the root system, place the stakes early, one on either side.
Wouldn’t it be amazing to go to your living room window to extract a handful of sugar snap peas or cut a few twigs of oregano for the evening meal? Anything is possible with the willingness to try growing food indoors! Go for it!