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Kitchen Gardening 101: Tips for Growing Fresh Produce Indoors

By Robin Schroffel

Besides feeding hungry stomachs and flavouring dishes, a kitchen garden full of herbs and small vegetables keeps you in touch with nature, no matter the weather—or the size of your space. Here’s how to help indoor edibles thrive:

• Put containers near a window, ideally facing south. Water from the bottom if possible, and expose your plants to a fan for a few minutes daily—this “exercises” them, making them tougher. Add a grow light in winter, or when plants aren’t getting six hours’ direct light per day.

• Be creative with containers. Anything that holds soil can grow veggies: old mason jars, bowls, cooking pots and more. Wall-mounted and hanging containers can create vertical gardens in space-challenged kitchens. Just avoid low-grade plastic, like yogurt containers, which break down over time.

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• Plant baby greens. Leafy vegetables need less light than other edibles. Mustard, cress and arugula thrive in containers 10 cm deep and 25 centimetres wide. Cress grows especially fast; it can be harvested in 10 days.

• Give sprouts a try. Sprouting is one of the fastest and most foolproof ways to grow fresh greens indoors. Look for alfalfa, radish, chickpea and more. Add the seeds to a mason jar, cover with a mesh screen, soak, drain, invert the jar at an angle and rinse twice daily. A 125-gram package of alfalfa seeds yields 30 cups of sprouts.

• Grow herbs for maximum flavour. Chives, rosemary, basil, oregano, mint and parsley elevate the taste of everything from egg and pasta dishes to homemade cocktails and casseroles, and they grow easily on windowsills in 20-centimetre-deep pots.

• Stagger planting. Study the growth cycle of your greens, and start new seeds so that you have new plants coming ready as older ones stop producing.

Well equippedEarn 4% in reward dollars when you buy gardening gear and more at Home Depot through the AMARewards Online Store and

Seed money: Start your kitchen garden right and save 10% on seed packets (as well as bedding plants, perennials and statuary) at Parkland Nurseries and Garden Centre, and save 10% on regular-price flowers, gifts and more at Blondies Gift & Garden