By Diane Ziomek
You don’t need deep pockets to garden.
Sure, there may be some fancy equipment and cool gadgets out there, but all you really need is the desire to make things grow. Oh, and seeds, soil (optional) and water.
You can begin with sprouting which can be started on a shoestring budget. Not only is it economical but you can enjoy the fruits of your labour within days.
Even though it’s January and several degrees below zero (and getting colder) you can begin your gardening journey. Gather the following supplies and let’s get started.
Sunny window; preferably a south-facing one
Firstly, you’re going to need a container of some sort. I suggest a window box planter, but you can improvise with a plastic ice-cream bucket. Your local hardware store should have a suitable planter for around $10.00. My suggestion is to use a container which will allow for at least 15 cm (6”) of soil depth.
Next you’ll need some all-purpose potting soil, which should also be available at your local hardware store. You can expect to pay less than $10.00 for a 25-L bag.
Finding seeds during the winter months may be a bit of a challenge, but most stores do keep their seed displays in their stockroom. If you don’t see any on the sales floor, ask a store associate. I suggest buying radish and lettuce (or a salad green mix such as Mesclun) to get started. Your container doesn’t have to be overly deep for either. Seeds will cost up to $5.00 per package, but for the basics such as radishes and lettuce/greens the average price is less than $2.00 per package.
Now it’s time to get your hands dirty. Follow these steps to get your indoor garden started.
1. Cover your table with newspaper or plastic. This is simply to make cleanup easier, but you can skip this step if you don’t mind a little dirt on your table. It washes off, right?
2. If you’re using a bucket you had stashed in your cupboard be sure to poke a few holes in the bottom to allow for drainage. If you purchased a planter, it should already have holes.
3. Place a single layer of newspaper in the bottom of the container to keep the soil form washing through. A paper towel or coffee filter works well too. (I use coffee filters in my small houseplants to keep the soil in the pot.)
4. Add your potting soil a handful at a time. Tipping the bag is tempting but ask me how I know that doesn’t usually end well.
5. Gently shake the planter to level out and settle the soil, but not so hard as to pack it tight. Since the seeds you’re planting are small you can fill it to within 2-5 cm of the top.
6. Now it’s time to plant your seeds. You have the option of either making rows a few inches apart so the seeds are in a straight line, or sprinkle them on the soil. To minimize the amount of thinning you’ll have to do once they germinate don’t plant too many close together.
7. When your seeds are planted sprinkle a little more soil to cover them and gently pat it down.
8. Water the planter using a spray bottle on the mist setting. If you don’t have a spray bottle you can distribute the water over the back of a teaspoon to prevent washing the seeds away.
9. When watered place your planter in the sunniest window you have. Be sure to keep the soil moist but not saturated or they might damp off.
You should begin to see growth within two weeks and can begin harvesting when the leaves are several centimeters tall. Radishes may be harvested when they are 2.5 cm in diameter.
You can get started on your gardening journey for less than $30.00. That is a small investment considering the amount of money that’s spent on fresh produce in the grocery store. I hope this article has been helpful and if you have any questions feel free to contact me.