Having owned my own home since 2004 which contains an acre-and-a-half of land you’d think that I would’ve taken advantage of that real estate and began a garden. Aside from the edging and mulching that surrounds the house as well as various perennials we planted (double-knockout roses, flox and spruces) there were several reasons why I hadn’t embarked upon a vegetable garden. But that’s going to change this spring, and I’m honing my novice gardening chops during the cold, winter months by beginning small – right in a glass of water!
Between the massive amount of trees from the woods that would cause a lot of head-scratching on what to plant where for adequate sun/shade and the squirrels and deer who would look upon a garden as an all-you-can-eat buffet, designating several garden beds may prove to be challenging. But I am determined to turn my back yard into something functional and not a place that needs to be de-leaved and mowed every other week.
So I’m starting out small. Very small. Like, re-growing vegetables in water on my windowsill small. After coming across a Pinterest article that led me to several Youtube videos, I discovered several produce items that you can re-grow right in water. Lettuce, celery, green onions (scallions) and bok choy – just to name a few. So late January, I began my very first windowsill water garden to get me through the cold nor’east months while I countdown until Spring. I began with lettuce and green onions first.
You can see the various stages of the lettuce growth with the three I’ve got going on in the bottom center photo (though I’ve since tossed it as it began to bolt (seed) in the center, which I found out will wind up making the leaves bitter. Plus, the growth seemed to have stunted as I believe the cold weather seeping through the window on the sill may have affected them, so I moved them to the edge of the dining room table where it still got ample sunlight from the adjacent picture window. And as of yesterday, I found use for a narrow, broken table that’s been collecting dust and cobwebs in my garage (intro photo). It is THE perfect height to go directly under the dining room table where the afternoon sunlight is really strong, but far enough away to where nothing should be affected by any cool air seepage (dang single-pane windows!) Plus, I have a lot more room to spread everything out.
The green onions surprised me the most. The bottom left photo was only 1 day’s regrowth in water. By week’s end they had shot up so fast that I couldn’t find enough ways to use them. They’re great in scrambled eggs, sprinkled in salad, sandwich wraps or tacos. I just snipped the green parts off and leave the white bulb (that are really sprouting roots) in the glass to continue re-growing in the glass. All I do is just change the water every 2-3 days. The ones in the bottom right photo are on their second re-growth.
The lettuce is a bit squirrely. Bottom right photo you can see the one in the middle that I had begun back on 1/27/16. I thought it would’ve been taller by now, but since I’ve now moved it away from the drafty window, perhaps it’ll perk up. I’ve also bumped the root up from resting on the bottom of the glass by suspending it with toothpicks to maybe give it some breathing room.
It is not recommended to rely on this method alone for enough regrowth to harvest for a nice big salad (maybe enough to put on top of a cheeseburger) which is why my article and video research had shown that they should be planted in nutrient-rich soil after some time.
Last week I began rooting two sweet potatoes. This method will produce shoots (also called tubers) which will produce leaves (called ‘slips’ – see how knowledgeable I’m becoming!). Once the tubers are 4-6″ long, they can be removed from the potato and put into a glass of water to root before being planted. I’m keeping a sharp eye on these because I’m told that ones used to sprout tubers should be organic as they are most likely not sprayed with a non-sprouting solution. I’m also ‘seeding’ white potatoes for planting as well:
I plan to cut them in half so that I have at least 1-2 well-formed eyes on each piece, dry out for 1-2 days then plant in deep (16″+) pots on my back patio. This is how I will be doing the sweet potatoes as well. I found many videos on how to start and maintain a container garden which I believe will be a good starting point until hub and I can determine ground placement as well as fencing and protection as critters and varmints.
But right now, I’m still in the beginning stages both growing and knowledge-wise. I’ve really developed an interest in self-sustainment and as much as I want to jump in and turn my entire backyard into a fruit and vegetable paradise with a blink of an eye, slow and steady is the best route for this beginner. We also have plans for tomatoes, peppers, herbs, onions and garlic. These plus lettuce, celery and potatoes are what we use most frequently so we’re going to start there and slowly build up. In addition to this, we also have apple, cherry, pear and peach trees in our yard as well. We can’t seem to keep the squirrels from demolishing the cherries (plastic owl hanging in tree nor my hub taking them down with his .22 haven’t helped. But I’m determined this year to harvest what I can salvage for canning after successfully turning a batch of apples into applesauce last fall.
For anyone is interested, I have pinned several informative articles to my Self-Sustainment board on Pinterest if you want to take a look.