You don’t need acres of acres of land to grow a garden. Here’s how to grow 6 different “superfoods” right on your patio or window sill.
Sanitize 1 1/2 tablespoon of sprout mix or microgreens seeds (often made up of broccoli, alfalfa, amaranth, and sunflower seeds) in a solution of 1 tablespoon hydrogen peroxide or bleach to 10 tablespoons water for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse in a fine mesh sieve, repeat 3 times. Put the seeds in a clean jar with 2 cups of water, cover with a double thickness of cheesecloth secured with a rubber band and let stand for 8 to 12 hours. Drain, add fresh water, swirl and drain. Recover the jar and store top end-down at an angle to keep the seeds out of standing water. Repeat the rinsing, repeating the draining process once in the morning and once at night, until the sprouts begin to show green leaves, 3 to 5 days. Remove the sprouts from the jar and refrigerate for up to 3 days. One 30g packet supplies enough seeds for 4 to 5 batches. Can be grown indoor year round.
Put rich, organic potting soil in a clean 12-inch pot and sprinkle a few teaspoons of lettuce blend seeds over the damp soil. Sprinkle a few handfuls of soil lightly over the seeds, no need to plant them deeply. Keep the soil moist by watering lightly a few times a week. When at least 4 leaves appear, trim the weakest half of the seedlings down with scissors to create space for the remaining plants to develop. Continue to water lightly and harvest the leaves as they grow. Plant a new pot every 3 weeks or from spring to late summer.
Heart healthy strawberries take very well to growing in pots. Plant 3 to 4 plants with the chunky center “crown” about halfway buried in moist compost-rich soil in a grow bag or hanging basket and place in a sunny spot in early summer. Keep the soil moist and a keen eye out for slugs and earwigs. The plants can be overwintered in the ground in milder climates (Zones 7 and higher), or mounded with mulch and kept in a garage until spring. Most plants produce well for 3 to 4 years.
The sweet, curly tendrils of pea plants are easy to grow and provide you with high protein greens throughout spring and early summer. Any variety of pea seed can be sown in 1/2 inch of compost-rich potting soil. Water thoroughly to keep soil moist until the peas germinate. Begin snipping off shoots once the plants produce 4 leaves. The shoots can be snipped up to 5 times. Add them to salads or as a garnish for grilled fish, lamb, or as part of a salad roll.
Kale is another easy-to-grow green that, once established, can be a source of leaves for several weeks through spring and early summer. Varieties like Red Russian and Lacinato kale seedlings offer color and texture and don’t need much space, so you can tuck them in with flowers that need the same 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day. Be sure to press down firmly around the seedling once planted and keep the soil moist to 1 inch deep. Snip off leaves to harvest, always leaving at least 4 leaves on the plant. Here’s some fresh ideas to use up your garden harvest.
Bush-type cherry tomatoes like “Tidy Treats” and “Sungold” will flourish in a 14-inch pot on a sunny patio (6 to 8 hours of sun) with little effort. The cherry-sized clusters of tomatoes will produce well into early fall, so plan on a lot of fruit! Do stake the plants with small tomato cages and water once a week to 1 inch deep (avoid getting the leaves wet). Pick the fruit as it ripens to promote more growth. Do not over-water your tomato garden.
Now that you know how to grow a garden like a pro, it’s time to get excited about all the recipes you can use your haul in. Plus, read on for composting tips and tricks to get even more out of your garden: