I took a smattering of gardening books out of the library with the hope of gleaning a few ideas for my own space (library books are great because I can be totally whimsical about my choices and I don’t feel I need to read the whole book if it turns out to be not to my taste). I tend to be a random idea generator – I already have more ideas than I can possibly implement, but I enjoy putting my feet up and flipping through books and it’s completely possible I’ll stumble across some great ideas.
First up – Indoor Kitchen Gardening: turning your home into a year-round vegetable garden by Elizabeth Millard.
Outside spring is bursting forth, it won’t be long until the first of this years crops will be ready to harvest (mustard greens, arugula and chard are all on their way), but I’m still intrigued by the idea of growing what I can inside. This book is aimed towards those with much colder winters than I have to endure and is filled with beautiful pictures including full-sized celery, hot peppers and photogenic red chard. She advocates having a plan for indoor gardening (which it true outside too) to avoid getting overwhelmed, very good advice which I’m guilty of regularly ignoring.
Although I grow food year round outside, come winter time it’s fun to watch new plants sprout without getting soaked in the rain, besides why can’t houseplant produce some food? I have a sunny kitchen and the luxury of a bit of space – the biggest danger to anything I grow inside is a carrot-stealing toddler. In the winter and early spring my counters are lined with sprouts and pea shoots at various stages of growth. We recently added some grow lights to start seeds, but I can also grow some microgreens under them or even some full sized basil, cilantro and lettuce.
Millard’s instructions to set up an indoor garden are detailed, which would be good for someone just starting out. Microgreens and sprouts are first up – easy choices, both of which I grow through out fall and winter. There are instructions to grow mushrooms and wheat grass. She goes through lists of herbs and categorizes them by ease of growing. Basil and cilantro are labelled as ‘more challenging’ – however, they can’t be that hard to grow as I have both growing in my kitchen right now.
She suggests growing lemongrass from the grocery store this way: “trim the top and put the stalk in a few inches of water. The stalk will produce roots on its own and dozens of new shoots and you can harvest from these.” I’ve looked into starting lemongrass from seed, and her way seems much simpler I’ll have to try it.
She does go into growing full sized vegetables inside, I have to admit, with the exception of hot peppers, I don’t think I’ll bother as I can grow what she covers outside. Unfortunately, tropical options like pigeon peas (a tropical bean that I understand can be grown to a crop producing size indoors, currently I’m testing this and will report back) are outside the scope of the book.
I’ll post about the other books shortly – it looks like they contain some good ideas for outside.