In historic agrarian cultures, the late winter and early spring were known as “The Hungry Times”. Winter stores of meat have been nearly exhausted or have gone bad due to poor preservation techniques and new crops of spring vegetables were either not planted yet or simply not available to harvest yet. Early societies subsisted on parched dried meat, and what was left of the grain supplies.
We are much more fortunate that we can purchase early greens and vegetables in our modern supermarkets. However, a better choice is to grow some of your own indoors! This project is perfect for those who have major cabin fever after a long winter and or those with limited outdoor growing space (apartments, townhomes, etc.)as this project can provide you with a few crops of items all year long.
Anyone who visits supermarkets regularly knows the cost of salad lettuce or greens is exorbitant! $3-6 for a handful of mixed greens, gourmet carrots are also at a premium in addition to varietal radishes…of which all are the makings of incredible spring salads!
Here is what you need to get a jump start on spring or to be able to provide a nice portion of your vegetable intake throughout the year.
- Two appropriate growing containers. I visited a local discount store and found these lovely containers on sale.
- Some biodegradable material (optional); I am using an organic egg container and a few bathroom tissue rolls. This is an optional step to increase drainage and reduce the required amount of soil for one of the containers (lettuce). Once you are finished with the soil and container for the year, the whole contents can be added to your compost pile.
- A sunny window or source of artificial light.
To begin, fill one container with your biodegradable material, then fill both containers with soil. Water the containers to get the material nice and moist to begin. Set the container not containing the additional material aside for the moment.
I like to have a mixture of lettuce and herbs in a spring salad. I think the addition of herbs not only improves the flavor, but it can also add to the benefits of food as medicine. I selected dill and chives to augment my lettuces, chive for flavor as well as dill for flavor and to aid digestion. I then mixed these seeds together and broadcast them across the entire surface area of the soil. Next I added soil to the top and made sure it was good and damp. I gave the soil a light tamp to ensure good seed contact then wrapped the container in plastic wrap to seal in the moisture during the germination process.
Next I moved on to the root crops. For this container I wanted early varieties of small root vegetables. Delightful, peppery radishes in variety and French Parmex carrots. These carrots are quick (only 55 days to maturity) and they are small button carrots that won’t require a lot of growing depth. For this container, rather than casting the seeds, I created furrows with a chop stick (I got 7 furrows for the container). Then I alternated carrot and radishes in each furrowed “row”. Another casting of soil and water set the plants for germination. I also wrapped this container in plastic and placed it on my sun porch to germinate.
If you have a sunny window, you won’t need additional light. I am putting these containers under a lamp because that part of the sun room, while bright, doesn’t get enough light to support all the crops…I will use the lamp to augment the light these plants get. Also an advantage of these greens is the fact that they really don’t need a lot of heat to germinate. These crops are designed to be sewn in the garden in the earliest of spring, as soon as the soil can be turned so you will not need to place them on a heat mat.
In just a few weeks, I will be enjoying home grown salads just as I am about to plant lettuces, radishes and carrots in the outdoor garden and these little pots will keep me in cut and come again lettuce until my outdoor crops are ready to be harvested!
See, anyone can grow at least a little of their own food. By doing this, you are increasing your own food security no matter where you live and reducing the demand for pesticide laden, expensive salad items in a super market…give this inexpensive project a try, you won’t be sorry!