When you don’t have space for a garden, you can still grow vegetables indoors. Produce thrives right in your kitchen with the limited space that you have.
Note from Dawn: This post was originally published by me on RevealNaturalHealth.com. It has been transferred to ChoosingReal.com as I am moving content from that out-dated blog to this current blog.
Guest Post by Dan Mowinski of Urban Turnip
I’ve never had a lot of space. My current “garden” is made up of a dozen or so pots, a small raised bed, and a polyethylene mini greenhouse. That, to those lucky city allotment-holders, will sound like pittance. For me on the other hand, it’s a huge improvement on past situations.
Balconies, patios, backyards…I would have given my left leg for one!
Yet I came to realize that a lack of growing space shouldn’t stop me from actually growing. I discovered that a tiny garden, cultivated in old trays and jars, will thrive quite happily on my kitchen worktop.
In this short post, I’d like to share some of things I’ve learned. If you’re short on space too, I guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much you can grow. If garden size isn’t an issue, then these tips will help you towards a steady supply of homegrown goodies through the winter months.
Start With the Seeds and the Sprouts
The process of germination, in which a seed, drawing only on the resources held within its shell, unfurls its first leaves, stem, and roots, is triggered primarily by moisture. If this key condition is met, it will develop into a seedling.
Sprouting is the art (if you can call it that) of growing seedlings without soil. It’s wonderfully easy to do and there’s no reason not to have a near-permanent jumble of jars in an unused corner of your kitchen.
To get started you’ll need:
- a glass jar,
- some cheesecloth or a kitchen towel,
- and an elastic band.
As far as seeds are concerned, most are suitable. Broccoli sprouts, in particular, are a good choice as research has shown that they’re one of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world. Mung beans, commonly called bean sprouts and popular in Asian cuisine, alongside daikon radish, onion, fenugreek, and kale, are all good options. Buy from a certified organic retailer to be sure that they’re pathogen-free.
- Add around a tablespoon of seeds to a jar and half-fill it with cold water. Leave it for eight hours or so (overnight or for the rest of the day).
- Rinse the jar out with water, making sure that you give it a good swill. (The cheesecloth will keep your seeds from washing away.) Set it aside, completely drained of water, for another eight-hour period. Repeat this rinsing process every morning and evening. Most sprouts are ready to eat when they’re two to three inches long.
- One thing that sprouts are particularly susceptible to is mold (hence why they need thorough rinsing). If you see any fuzz and they smell bad, then be safe and throw them away. That said, it’s also common to mistake root hairs for mold – if they disappear after rinsing (and there’s no foul smell) then you’re likely ok.
Microgreens are similar to sprouts and also ideal for an indoor environment. They differ in that they are grown in a thin layer of soil and left to mature for longer – sometimes until the second set of leaves (the “true” leaves) emerge. Harvesting can be done as soon as there is growth, so at the sprouting stage, or when further growth emerges.
Any potting medium (including multipurpose compost) with the exception of garden soil is suitable. Add a little vermiculite or perlite if you have it to hand and layer a shallow tray (old punnets are my preference) with about an inch. Give them as much light as you can and make sure the soil stays moist.
Colorful, Diverse Vegetable Boxes
There’s a few tricks to growing root vegetables and salad leaves indoors when space is limited. You’re likely only going to have a handful of boxes so it’s understandable that you’ll want to make them as productive as possible. The trick is good soil preparation and correct variety selection. Get it right on these two fronts and you’ll be surprised how much you can grow.
Prepare the soil by adding either perlite or vermiculite. A potting mix or multi-purpose compost is usually fine as the base medium. After six weeks, begin a regular balanced feed (like Growmore) on a weekly basis. Pots should be a minimum of six inches deep.
Go with fast growing, smaller-sized vegetables. Radishes (Hot Sabina and French Breakfast) and carrots (Parisienne) come in “golf ball” varieties. Compact lettuces like Tom Thumb and colorful chard like Yellow Chard can add a little color too.
Dan is a gardener based in Manchester. He writes about growing fruit and vegetables in containers on his blog Urban Turnip