You may not think you have the right geography or amount of space to start a functional garden, but the truth is that virtually anyone can grow their own herbs and vegetables at home. To show you how easy it can be, guest blogger Bobbi Peterson of Living Life Green is sharing her tips!
Indoor gardens are some of the easiest gardens to maintain due to their low upkeep and minor space requirements. Here’s what you will need:
- A sunny windowsill — You will want to use a window that gets around eight hours of sunshine each day. If that’s not possible, you can place a lamp (any compact fluorescent lightbulb should work) facing your plants so that you can increase the hours of light they receive each day.
- Plant containers — This can be anything from old teacups to ceramic planting pots and growing boxes. Read the instructions on the packet of seeds you buy to see the plant’s water requirements. Some plants prefer dry roots and some prefer to have wet roots. You will need to poke or drill holes at the bottom of your containers according to your plant’s water requirements.
- Soil — The type depends on how hardcore you want to be: This can be as simple as a scoop of dirt from the public park nearby, or as complex as a bag of potting soil.
- Fertilizer — This can be purchased from large grocery or hardware stores. You can also make your own fertilizer from compost.
- Watering device — It is important to use a gentle trickle of water when watering delicate plants (like most herbs), because you risk damaging them with a stream from a cup. You can take an empty pop can and carefully poke some holes in the bottom using a nail. Place it in a bowl, fill it with water and use the can to water your plants. You could also buy specialized versions that look a little nicer, or a simple watering pail.
- Weed prevention routine — This can be as simple as checking the leaves of your plants every day to make sure that there are no pests harassing them. There are many ways to keep your plants safe and healthy using integrated pest management techniques instead of harmful chemicals (that is a whole topic on its own – maybe another blog post to come!).
The key to creating a functional garden in a small space is to tailor your garden setup and maintenance regiment to the type of plant you want to grow.
Imagine what you could do with an endless supply of fresh herbs — dill pickles, herbed cream cheeses, perfectly seasoned steaks or adventurous salad dressings. Starting an herb garden in your windowsill (or any other space with some light) is a wonderful way to have delicious herbs year-round.
Most herbs are great candidates to grow indoors. Basil, parsley, oregano, cilantro and rosemary are all good choices to start out with because they grow fast and are some of the most versatile to cook with. You’ll get results quickly, and you’ll hopefully want to take your gardening to the next level!
What better way could there be to give your family’s nutrition a boost than with delicious, home-grown vegetables?
Carrots are easy to grow from seeds and do well in window boxes. You could also grow garlic greens by literally just planting a bulb of garlic that you purchase at the grocery store. You won’t be able to eat the bulbs, but you will have plenty of chive-like goodness to use in future recipes.
You could also try kale, Swiss chard and other salad greens. These can be pricey at a grocery store, and fresh greens are sometimes difficult to eat on time before they turn to mush. Growing them at home is an easy way to improve your nutrition without breaking the bank or creating too much waste.
- Flowers and Tea
Growing flowers and tea plants indoors will make your home smell amazing and can also give your health and cooking a big boost.
You can use mint leaves to make a delicious tea in hot water. Mint also grows like a weed and is one of the quickest and low-maintenance plants to grow indoors. Jasmine is another plant that grows well indoors. It smells wonderful and its dried leaves, bark and flowers can be used to make a caffeine-free tea.
Lavender is also a wonderful candidate for a home garden, but you’ll have to check that the variety you purchase is suited for indoor growing. French lavender grows well indoors. It is a little trickier to grow because it requires a lot of light, but you can add light easily with a grow lamp.
You don’t need wide open spaces or a tractor to grow your own food at home! With a little work and know-how, you will be producing fresh herbs, organic vegetables or even homemade teas — all from your windowsill.