I have never had a garden. For the past several years I’ve lived in small urban spaces with little to no outdoor room. I have often yearned to grow things, but haven’t had much of an idea of how to get started. So when I started researching ways to grow food in your kitchen or with little outdoor space, I was stoked—no more excuses not to grow some of my own food! Here are some easy ways to get started:
—Kerri-Ann Jennings, M.S., R.D.
If you’re eager to get some fresh greens on your plate, try growing microgreens. Microgreens are the first tender shoots of plants like collard greens, beet greens and mustard greens. As Melissa Pasanen wrote in EatingWell Magazine, microgreens are prized by chefs for their beauty and concentrated fresh flavor. They’re also increasingly available for everyone to buy, but they’re pricy (some fetch up to $50 a pound). Yet for less than $10 you can buy the seeds and soil to cultivate your own windowsill crop. Follow these step-by-step instructions to grow your own microgreens.
If you have a porch or some bit of outdoor space, you can get some salad greens growing in a container. With many greens, you can just keep snipping them above the roots and they will continue to grow for an ongoing harvest. Use these step-by-step instructions for growing salad greens in a container.
If you find yourself buying bunches of scallions that go bad before you get a chance to use them, next time you buy scallions, don’t use the whites—sprout them. Simply secure bulbs with a rubber band and place in a glass with an inch of water. Change the water daily and in about 7 to 10 days new shoots will appear and the roots will double in length. Plant them in a garden or container and snip the greens as you need them.
If you like to cook, you know what great flavor fresh herbs can bring to a dish. But you might also feel discouraged when you only need a small amount of fresh herbs—and waste the rest of an expensive bundle. Growing your favorite herbs in a pot on your kitchen windowsill makes it easy to have fresh herbs on hand easy. Plus, it can be a fun way to try harder-to-find varieties like purple basil, licorice-flavored chervil or herbal-cinnamon shiso. Joining the estimated 14 million U.S. households that tend their own herb gardens will cost, on average, a mere $30 a year.
Want your own crop of specialty mushrooms? Try an easy-to-use mushroom kit, which lets you grow mushrooms in a nicely contained indoor box. Fungi Perfecti offers hard-to-find varieties, such as Lion’s Mane and Nameko (Fungi Perfecti, fungi.com, $25), and Back to the Roots (backtotheroots.com, $19.95) uses recycled coffee grounds as soil and donates to urban gardens. Just open the box, place on a windowsill and mist the recycled coffee ground “soil.” Kits yield up to two pounds, with the first crop ready for harvest in 10 days.