By Edith Morgan
It’s a miracle: almost everything – seeds, beans, pits, pieces of fruit and vegetables – will grow with just a little bit of encouragement and some life-sustaining help. Got water? Got a little space? Got a little time? Got a little imagination? Then you have the potential for an indoor garden.
Don’t have a lot of money? Can’t go out for seeds or plants just now? No problem! Let’s take a little tour of the “possibilities” we have right now at home.
I find that if I keep onions or potatoes for a while in their mesh sacks, often they will start to grow. Potatoes will send out shoots from their “eyes,” and onions will send out green spikes and develop white roots below. Just about any vegetable will try to come to life, unless it has been “treated” or waxed. I have even planted the sprouts of fresh ginger. Of course, not everything you plant will grow, but since these little experiments cost nothing, since we usually pare away these outcroppings, it does not hurt to try to see what will persevere. So, enjoy and experiment with whatever you can find.
Maybe you do not have a bag of potting soil handy. Have you heard of “hydroponics”? It is simply the science or art of growing things in water. For Valentine’s Day my daughter gave me a glass jar with tulip bulbs in water, that had been forced and were in full bloom, with only water at their roots. This jar, of course, was fancy, but I am certain that any of you, dear readers, have some kind of glass jar that could be used to grow some bulbs. Your only expense would be for the bulb – unless you try it with onions, scallions or whatever other bulb vegetables you use.
If you like fresh herbs with your meals, you can buy live plants at your grocery store – I just brought home parsley and cilantro and will be cutting sprigs of each for use in meals. Remember, that the more you cut, the more they grow. With spring here there are more such plants on the grocery store shelves! If you feel flush and adventurous, you can go to one of our area nurseries and pick up lots of potted herbs and put them in a planter in a sunny window.
If you want flowers, try some seeds now: I soak them in warm water, then plant them. You do have to be patient; while many germinate in three weeks, some take longer. At our house, every time we eat an avocado, we save that huge pit! Great patience is needed with avocado pits, as they can take up to six months to send out a root shoot, but once they do they really take off. They are fun to watch grow, as the single stem gets quite tall quite fast. And if you are serious about growing them, you will have to transplant them into a larger pot eventually.
Don’t be afraid to plant several different kinds of seed or pits in the same pot! Unlike we humans, plants get along pretty well. I usually plant garlic cloves with various vegetables, and I love marigolds, as they discourage a number of rodents with their pungent “fragrance.”
Don’t be discouraged if not everything grows. Remember that Mother Nature is very profligate: How many thousands, or even millions!, of seeds never get to propagate, so that just one or two make it? How many seedlings drop from my maple tree and my Chinese Lilac that never become trees – or even saplings. I sweep them up every fall by the thousands.
And (thankfully!) how many times as a child have you blown the volatile seeds from a dandelion, watched them float through the air, while the neighbors hope they do not take root in their lawn?! Now maybe we will think of the lowly dandelion as having leaves that are tasty in salads and blossoms that can be made into wine …
So, grow, eat … enjoy!