By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter
I love to work with those who say they cannot garden.
The reasons for not gardening range from not having land, space, time or talent.
But these really are just excuses and anyone can garden in any space with very little time commitment.
The key to this is to start small, not only in space but variety of plants, and to realize that to learn one must make a few mistakes.
These mistakes should be used not as failures but as a learning opportunity.
Many habits that our society has create perfect opportunities for gardening. Our fast paced lifestyle generates trash that can be used to grow food. Takeout containers, plastic produce containers and containers that sprouts come in are just a few of these trash items that can be converted to containers for micro-gardening.
To start your own micro-garden begins with cleaning the containers. Warm, soapy water is all that is needed but make sure to remove all food particles. Next, if the container does not have holes for drainage make a few holes in the bottom of the container. Once this is done, line the bottom of the container with a paper towel, newspaper with only black ink or unused coffee filter. After it is lined, then fill the container with soil and moisten the soil with a spray bottle.
Once the container is prepared, it is time to plant your mini garden. This type of garden is designed for plants whose vegetation you are going to eat. Greens, root crops and herbs are perfect while plants such as peppers and tomatoes will not work. Also avoid plants that require pollination to produce anything that a human will eat. The flowers will bloom but the fruit will never form in this type of garden.
After you have chosen your seeds, gently sprinkle on the soil surface and lightly cover with less than Â¼ inch of soil. Spray soil with a water bottle or sprinkle drops of water onto the soil surface. Close the lid of the container if it is clear plastic. If it is not clear plastic, simply cover with plastic wrap.
Place in sunny window on tray or saucer and monitor soil moisture. This type of garden can dry out quickly but when watering you have three choices. The first one utilizes droplets of water from the hand. The second is using a spray bottle and third, simply fill the tray or saucer that the micro-garden is on with water. The water will be wicked up into the soil when needed.
After the seeds have germinated, you may need to open the lid so that the plants can grow in height.
Your crop is ready to pick when it reaches the desired height. To harvest the “crop” you will be using a “micro-garden harvest combine” or scissors.
You can repeat this process several times before you have to replace the soil.
If you want to follow the square foot principle, simply measure off the container into square inches and plant accordingly.
A unique way of using these trays is to grow a “garlic lawn.” This is done by saving the seeds from hardneck garlic. This is done by hanging the seed heads in a warm, dry area until dry. Once seed heads are dry, simply break open and sprinkle the seeds on the soil surface.
This “garlic lawn” can be cut with scissors and used as chives.
This is a great way of using up those leftover seeds. If you do not want to plant traditionally, you can grow sprouts in these containers. Line as before but do not add soil, instead moisten the paper towel and sprinkle with seeds.
Until we blog again, trash to treasure, foot to inch, everyone can garden if they have the itch. Start small and plan ahead to supply fresh greens in your square inch bed.