If you dream of growing a few sustainable crops but don’t have garden space, you still can. Start at your local supermarket. Many commercial vegetables can be rooted at home and like in the nature experiments we did in school, they will grow into real food like tomatoes, potatoes, basil, mint and garlic.
Make sure you have an appropriate plant container. A bucket with a few holes drilled in the bottom, a conventional window box, recycled and clean gallon cans, even an old boot for a touch of humor in your garden.
(We once grew geraniums in a recyled – and clean – toilet.) See our post on gardening for food for more ideas. As long as it has drainage holes and good-quality dirt in it, with room enough for new roots, it’s a container and you can grow food in it.
1. Tomatoes. We suggest cherry tomatoes because they take up little room. Choose 3 or 4 good, healthy-looking ones and set them on a piece of newspaper to go rotten. When you have a gooey mess, plant it. Seedlings will come up and you will have to thin them out. Provide support for the vines or plant them in a hanging bucket so they can droop downwards. New York locavore expert Leda Meredith trains her tomatoes up her building’s fire escape ladder.
2. Potatoes. Let a couple of big potatoes grow “eyes.” Cut these sprouts off carefully and plant them in a tote bag that’s been prepared for drainage and filled with good dirt.
3. Basil. As we suggested in this previous post on basil, take leafy stems of supermarket basil and put them in a glass with water. After a few days, healthy white roots will grow.
Basil is thirsty; you will need to check every day to make sure it’s not drying out. You can plant the rooted stems in good soil. Basil does well indoors if you put your planter next to a sunny window.
4. Mint. Root mint the same way you do basil. Mint usually dies back in winter and comes back to astonishing life come springtime. It likes lots of water and a sunny place that gets some shade. Or a sunny window.
Garlic. Take a healthy head of garlic with big cloves. Separate the cloves and put them in a small bag or a jar. Chill them in the fridge for a couple of days, then take them out. Lay them on a piece of newspaper in a warm place and they will sprout.
Plant them upright, sprout side up, and each one will yield a plant that sprouts flowers and makes another bulb under the soil.
For specific instructions on the organic care and feeding of your crops, go to sites like organic gardening or the funkier organic gardening guru , or look up “growing (your individual vegetable)” on the Net.
More on sustainable food for humans (and pets) on Green Prophet:
Miriam Kresh also writes a food blog you can follow.