I know what you're probably thinking. "Um, Grace, it's January. Isn't a gardening post a bit out-of-season?" Especially if you consider that I live in Nebraska, and the ground is pretty much frozen solid right now. But give me a second here: we're not talking about dig-up-the-backyard-gardening, we're talking about windowsill gardening. In containers. Indoors.
I mentioned that we hope to start a container garden outdoors on our deck once the weather warms up, but freezing temps haven't put a stop to our culinary cultivation. There are a handful of things that can easily grow on a sunny windowsill.
Now, I'm NOT an expert at gardening. In fact, I'm a total novice. We're just starting this experiment ourselves! But I thought I would let you know what we're doing, how it's going, and see if anyone out there has some sage advice (get it?!? HA!) for us.
Things that are going well so far: Sprouts!
Although we started out with some properly purchased packets of seeds, dirt, and even a few ceramic flowerpots, I decided to wing it completely with one of our containers. I took a handful of mung beans, which had been purchased in the bulk bins at Whole Foods, soaked them in water, and stuck them in dirt in a re-purposed (extra large) yogurt container (with holes punched in the bottom, because plants like that sort of thing). I didn't even bother really giving them enough space, because I had little confidence in the success of this experiment. But wouldn't you know it, these have been some of our most prolific producers! It took them a bit to get started, but now they've taken off. I can harvest a handful of sprouts once or twice a week - and I plan to put a few more beans in the dirt soon so our supply becomes continual.
Speaking of sprouts, we've also had luck with broccoli sprouts. I'm trying to get some lettuce sprouts to develop a bit more into micro greens, but they're all growing well at this point.
My swiss chard babies are just to the point I think I need to thin them. If I can get a few to develop, we can eat them while they're small, then dedicate the whole pot to one (hopefully thriving) plant. Apparently, you can harvest the outer leaves of the mature plant, while the inner leaves develop, creating a steady chard supply.
Parsley has done well for us - not even kicking it when we accidentally abandoned it for almost two weeks (we were home for the holidays! Oops!). But our cilantro hasn't sprouted yet. I'm starting to have doubts about it.
In the "requires patience" department, we have one (single, solitary, uno) chive that has sprouted. It looks quite healthy, if a bit lonely. Hopefully a few more spring up here soon! Our Tom Thumb lettuce seeds show signs of germination, but no sprouts yet.
Come spring, we'll be starting some seeds indoors, then setting up a container garden on our deck. I'm hopeful we can get some herbs to grow. I've also purchased an ambitious variety of other seeds - if only a few other plants really produce for us, I'll be happy. I figure, because this is our first year, experimentation is the name of the game. Give a variety of things a try, and figure out what will actually grow for us.
My [admittedly ambitious] Seed List:
- Herbs: 5 (FIVE) kinds of basil, cilantro, mint, dill, parsley, chives
- Lettuces: Kale, spinach, swiss chard, butter lettuce, tom thumb lettuce
- 2 kinds of bush beans
- Black Krim tomatoes
- Squash: patty pan squash, and "ronde de nice" zucchini
- 2 kinds of carrots
- "Little Fingers" eggplant (tiny eggplants!!!)
- Belgian (sweet) red peppers
Overkill? Probably. But if even half of it grows well, I'll be pleased as punch.
I've been using this book: (Grow Great Grub: Organic Gardening For Small Spaces, by Gayla Trail) for guidance in container growing. It's very clear and thorough, and I'll let you know how the advice pans out for us as the experiment continues!
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