Indoor gardening: 5 steps to growing herbs with limited space
As the weather starts warming up it’s time to start turning our minds to ways we can enjoy our homes once more. Greening up the home is a great way to improve mental health and reduce anxiety levels.
But what if you don’t have a lot of space, or even a garden to speak of? Don’t think this means you can’t grow your own food. All you’ll need is a few upcycled containers, some seeds, and some time – which most of us have in spades right now.
Fabian Capomolla from The Hungry Gardener encouraged readers to start growing some herbs now for a bounty of produce come spring and summer.
“You don’t need to go out and buy a bunch of things to start your own indoor garden. It’s easy to sow some seeds now and watch as they grow into delicious and flavourful additions to your meals,” he said.
Here are five things to do now to grow your own food inside.
1. Create a seed-raising tray
Rescue those empty toilet rolls, old yoghurt tubs or egg cartons from the recycling bin and put them to good use, suggested Mr Capomolla.
Anything that you can pop on a plate or tray in a sunny window spot will work – you don’t need to spend any money or find special equipment, especially when many of us aren’t able to do much shopping these days.
2. Source some quality seeds
Think about some of the things you can see yourself enjoying in your summer salads or veggie dishes and concentrate on getting those in seed form.
From basil to tomatoes, chilli to parsley, herbs and fresh produce rarely taste as good from the supermarket as they do fresh from the garden.
Mr Capomolla said now is the time to be planting if you’re in a cool temperate zone, in preparation for the warmer weather.
If you’re wondering how to get those seeds, the internet is a great place to start – there is even a free seed mailing service run from the Mornington Peninsula by a passionate kitchen gardener, Seeds Are Free Au, who will send you amazing heirloom varieties of seeds for free if you send a self-addressed stamped envelope. Due to lockdown restrictions, this service is only available to NSW and Victorian residents.
3. Get your seeds started in a sunny window
Once you’ve got your seeds and containers it’s time to source your seed raising mix, which you can either make yourself or order from a local nursery.
Fill the containers with soil and plant the seeds according to the packet directions and you’ll need to keep them growing for the next 4-6 weeks.
Position the tray inside in a sunny windowsill and keep the soil moist, said Mr Capomolla.
“Keep the surface damp but not too wet. The best way to know if they’re getting enough water is to tap the surface of the soil with your finger. and if the soil sticks to your finger then it’s damp enough.”
If they need water, provide this using a spray bottle on a gentle setting. You don’t want to disrupt the little seed as it’s trying to establish its roots.
4. Decide on where your seedlings will live permanently
Depending on your living situation you might want to plant these babies outside, or for those with a balcony, you’ll want to transfer them into pots eventually.
If you’re going to plant them in a garden, now is a good time to start preparing your garden bed, Mr Capomolla said.
You can do this by making sure the soil in the garden bed is rich and nutritious, according to the seedlings’ preferred environment, which you can research online.
If you’d rather the plant live within easy reach of the kitchen, pots are a great way to keep them handy to throw into meals.
Start thinking now about where they might live, whether it’s on the balcony or the kitchen bench in a sunny spot.
With regular love and attention, the little seeds will start shooting in just a few short weeks but they won’t be ready to be planted until the weather is a bit warmer, said Mr Capomolla. This will mean they don’t get affected by any sudden snaps of cold weather.
For now, all you need to do is give them a warm spot with plenty of sun and check their water levels every few days to make sure they don’t dry out.
Once the summer months hit you’ll have plenty of luscious herbs and veg ready to throw into your meals.