14 February 2015, by gj
There are a number of edible plants that are easy to grow indoors, and help make the winter go by just a little faster. Here are a few we suggest:
1. Micro Tom Tomatoes are the smallest growing tomato plant, only getting to a height of about 8 inches. In just less than 3 months they will go from planting the seed to providing tiny pea sized fresh tomatoes. They can be grown on a window sill or in a hanging basket, need no pollination, and will provide you with the fresh flavor of homegrown tomatoes all year.
2. Carrots such as Short and Sassy, Caracas or Parisienne are perfect for a small pot indoors. Be sure to keep them moist until they sprout. Just seeing the fern like leaves is enough to bring a smile to your face, but tasting a fresh carrot straight from the soil can’t be beat.
3. Most varieties of leaf lettuce can be grown indoors. They have a shallow root system, so a small planter is all you need. Of course, like all these plants, be sure they have good drainage and sufficient light. Just trim off the lower leaves as you need them, and your lettuce will provide for many months.
4. Your cat can get in on the action too. Indoor cats, and all cats in winter, can use catgrass as a supplement to their diet. It aids in their digestion. Of course, it is for cats only; but it is super easy to grow and good for your pet.
5. Cucumbers indoors? Yes, if you have a large pot with a tomato cage or other support. You will need to find a hybrid labeled as parthenocarpic, which simply means that the flowers do not need bees to pollinate them. These plants are bred for greenhouses, but do well in a warm sunny room.
6. Baby watermelon plants, such as Sugar Baby, do not need as large a pot to grow as you might think. Their root systems are comparatively shallow, and their vines only grow to about 4 feet. Of course, here you will need to hand pollinate by gently rubbing a small paintbrush on the male flower and then on a female flower. It is easy to tell the difference, the females have what looks like a tiny melon behind the flower. Again, give the plant support and plenty of sun.
7. Fruit trees, such as Meyer lemons, clementines and avocados can all be grown indoors. Just tending to them as the fruit grows provides smiles. We suggest you place the pots on plant stands with wheels, so you can bring them outdoors when the weather warms. This is also the time the fruit gets the attention it needs from bees and other bugs.
8. Most herbs can easily be grown on a windowsill in the winter. Adding homegrown fresh basil or cilantro to a recipe is so much better than dried or store bought. Greek recipes benefit from a pinch of oregano, as do Indian dishes with a little fenugreek.
There are other fruits and vegetables that can be grown indoors, depending on how much light and room you have. We’re going to be trying a small grape developed for indoor growing this winter. Just experiment and have fun, that’s the most important part of growing indoors.
The winter may still be cold, but it will be spring inside.
Categories: Container Gardening, Extending the Season
16 November 2014, by gj
And so it begins
When it comes to larger financial decisions, my husband and I hold off unless we both agree. Usually, when one person doesn’t want to spend the money, the other one finds creative ways to talk him into it.
And so it was with an unheated room that would be a great place to not only start seedlings, but also to grow food through the winter.
“You would have to make it worth it,” he said, not really wanting an increase in a utility bill.
To a gardening addict, just the activity itself is worth it.
“Like how?” I asked.
“Well, if you grew tomato plants and sold them, that would be good.”
Hmmm, that was part of the plan but that would be months away yet.
“How about having fresh tomatoes and herbs all year?” I suggested, appealing to the cook in him.
“And hot peppers?” he asked.
Let the growing commence.
Here are some of the best veggies to grow indoors:
1. Carrots- small round types such as Parisienne.
2. Tomatoes- romas, Tiny Tom or patio
5. Hot peppers
7. Garlic chives
8. Meyer lemons
9. Snow peas
11. Watermelon- small types such as sugar baby
12. Fruit trees on dwarf tree stock
Note there are a number of fruiting trees that are available grafted to dwarf root tree stock, far too many to list.
Categories: Container Gardening, Extending the Season, Garden Projects, The Experiments
12 August 2014, by gj
There are some wonderful gardeners out there who grow solely in containers; they are to be admired.
Even if you have a nice sized garden, container gardening can allow you to grow more invasive plants, as well as some items you might otherwise not be able to.
Here are a few things we’ve learned that are good to know if containers are going to be a part or all of your garden:
1. Use the right soil.
Containers need something light, so that it will not get packed down, and so the roots have freedom to roam.
Garden centers carry an assortment of potting soils to choose from. My Dad always mixed his own- a blend of vermiculite, sphagnum moss, and perlite, that he would add compost and/or fertilizer to.
There is a mix called BM1 that is good for an abundant number of containers or large raised beds, you should also add the compost and fertilizer as needed.
2. Containers need more frequent watering.
Mulching can help this, but by their very nature containers do not hold on to water as well as the ground does.
Check your containers often. The best advice we heard was to water your containers until the water comes out the bottom. When you’re done with all your containers, go back and do it again. This gives the soil a chance to absorb more moisture.
When you are incorporating containers into a larger garden setting, grouping them helps with watering. Don’t learn the hard way that a container out of sight is also out of mind. Sorry Sunchokes.
3. Choose wisely.This has two components:
a. If you’re growing exclusively in containers- choose plants and plant varieties that do well in containers. Adjectives that describe a smaller stature, like ‘Fairy’ and ‘Baby’ are often good clues that the plant will be better suited to a container. A good seed catalog or website, like Johnny’s Seeds will clearly indicate which plants do better in tight spots.
b. If you’re mixing it up- you may want to plant some of the more invasive plants in the containers.
If that’s the case remember they still have drainage holes, and their roots can grow through them. Really.
You can plant the more invasive plants, like horseradish, in large barrels that sit on top of flat stones.
Some plants can also flower and re-seed themselves, mint and marjoram are quite prolific here. For years I thought Dill was a perennial. These we plant in large pots.
containing the growth
4. Keep them light-
Unless you are planting a perennial and placing it in a permanent location, you’re going to need to deal with the weight of the pot and its contents at some point.
Using a product like ‘Ups a Daisy‘ or simply placing a small upside down plastic pot inside you container before adding the soil will help keep it light.
Bonus- this also makes for better drainage. Which brings up the point-
5. Give them good drainage-
Of course you’ll use pots that have drain holes in them, but if those holes get blocked, drainage could be compromised. This can happen from within, if the soil fills the holes in. This can also happen on the outside, if you place the pot in such a way that the holes get blocked,on soil or mulch for example.
Many gardeners use pebbles, glass stones, even pieces of broken pots to line the bottom of their containers and hep with drainage. Depending on what the pot is made of, you can also drill a few holes along the outside near the bottom.
ready to come indoors as needed
Categories: Container Gardening
30 June 2013, by gj
The front of our roadside garden has always had a weed issue. There are fields across the road and lots of undeveloped land in the area, making it a prime spot for unwanted greenery.
Sunchokes, zucchini, hot peppers, lemon grass, gold purslane, red carrots and lemon mint.
This year we decided to shut the bed down for a while. We covered it with newspaper, heavy landscaping fabric and mulch.
It made sense to use containers, as the bed was already bordered with a barrel of horseradish on each side.
So we added pots and planted a variety of herbs and veggies.
More sunchokes and green purslane.
Because it is along the fence, we can use that to grow vining squashes.
And, well, since nobody is perfect- you can see in the upper left what happens when you forget you planted pumpkin seeds and you sow turnips. We’ll see if they get along.
More carrots and hot peppers, plus chamomile and cucumbers.
Since the tunneling critters were getting our carrots we decided to try them in pots this year. So far, so good.
Basil, white cherry tomato, blue hubbard squash, chives, dill and oregano.
The blue pot in the forefront holds two volunteer tomatoes from different parts of the yard. It will be fun to see what kinds they are!
Red malabar spinach.
Red malabar is not really a spinach, but tastes similar. It is a vining crop that we’re hoping will grow up the old kiwi vines here.
The gnome? Well, we decided they should all live in the container garden, including this really large one.
And a few more here.
Tarragon, silver mint, dwarf sunflowers and catnip.
You can see some of those pesky weeds trying to get in here. Time to get back out and cut them down.
Sage, spaghetti squash and cumin.
The cumin is a real trooper. Somehow we neglected to drill holes in this pot, and it became flooded. It was a few days before it was found, but the plant is coming around.
More basil, one of the two white cherry tomatoes, and baby garlic chives.
The nice things about containers are the fact that are not so low to the ground, the main pests are tiny ones that are easy to deal with, and there are very little weeds involved.
The downside is only that they need to be watered more often. Keeping them all together helps make that easy to do.
If the plants continue to do this well, we may just leave it like this.
Categories: Container Gardening, Gardening
28 June 2013, by gj
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” ~Picasso
At this time of year there is not a lot coming in from the garden, enough to munch on for sure and even some to store for the winter; but other than a little weeding there isn’t much
work play time.
Unless you create your own. In this case inspiration came from my Facebook gardening friends Jack and Ebony, and what was growing in their gardens. It also came from some plastic pails that were purchased last year from a dollar store.
We have a semi-dwarf peach tree that happens to have a limb that was severely over-pruned. Let’s just say that Mandolin is no longer allowed to use the pruners.
The Forsythia bush is happy about that, too.
In order to do this, you need to first drill a few holes in the bottom of each pail. Next, carefully lower each empty one down a limb, running the limb through one handle opening. You can get them somewhat situated, but realize that once you add potting soil and when it gets wet, the pails will shift their weight.
In order to make the pails a little lighter we added a small plastic pot before filling with soil.
It’s important to have the pots not too terribly tilted, or the soil and seeds might get washed out during a heavy rain. Some thin wire helped support two of the pots.
Be sure there is sufficient sunlight for what you are planting.
We chose radishes and baby carrots, kohlrabi and spinach for the slightly shaded area, and some leftover tiny onions.
And of course, a lookout to keep the squirrels away.
Categories: Container Gardening, Gardening, Techniques & Issues