Gardening can be a great way to spend time productively while quarantined (social distance, self-care, and self-isolation) while adding greenery and potentially some food to your home. And for the added bonus – with many schools closed, indoor gardening is a great way to keep kids entertained and teach them something new and useful.
Here are some edible short-growing plants that you can grow indoors or in your yard over the next few weeks.
Micro-greens are the best choice if you are looking for a gardening project with quick results. Micro-greens are edible shoots of plants that are harvested shortly after the first leaves have developed, approximately two to three weeks after planting. They can be used as decoration or to add texture and flavor to dishes.
You can grow them from the seeds of many ordinary vegetables and other edible plants, such as sunflower, wheat, radish, and lettuce, such as a rug. Many herbs are grown as micro-greens, including dill, parsley, and basil.
To grow micro-greens, find a south-facing window where plants can get plenty of daylight (although some micro-greens, such as corn shoots, grow in the dark from seed to harvest). Fill shallow trays with soil, then sprinkle seeds on top. Cover it with a lid or plastic bag to retain moisture as the seeds germinate.
After the plants have germinated and started to grow, place the tray in sunlight. Water with caution. A desirable way of watering the micro-greens is watering the bottom or pouring water into a tray under the tank as needed. Harvest time will depend on the variety, but in general micro-green plants will be ready to eat in two to three weeks.
Lots of delicious leafy greens like arugula, spinach, and mesclun will be ready to harvest after only a few weeks of indoor growing. Find a sunny window, head south, or set some rising lights. Fill flat, shallow containers, a multi-cell tray, or small plastic pots (four to six inches deep) with a mixture of soil laying seed. Moisten the soil and arrange the seeds in rows, about an inch apart. Cover with a thin layer of the mixture. Put your containers in a warm place and gently cover them with a plastic wrap or lid. Check daily for traces of sprouts.
In about three to four weeks, cut off just what you need, starting with the outer leaves first from the base of the leaves about inches from the ground. Allow the remaining leaves to grow a few days longer.
Some turnip varieties – such as Snowball, Tokyo Cross, and Purple Top Milan (whose greens are certainly more nutritious and tastier than its flesh) – will be ready to harvest in less than two months of cultivation.
Find a 2-gallon container and align the bottom with coarse gravel. Fill a well-drained, sterilized potting mix. Sow the turnip seeds 1/2 inch deep and at least 4 inches deep apart. Place on a sunny window sill or under lights and soak with cool water once a day.
You can harvest the roots of the turnip after about 50 days when they are about 2 inches in diameter, or harvest turnip greens after about 40 days when they are about 4 inches high.
You can regrow scallions, so you don’t even need the seeds. After cooking, save the ends of the green onions with the roots attached. Put the bulbs root-end down into a small jar or glass and add enough water to cover the roots. Put the jar in the sunny window, and after about two weeks, your green onions will form long green shoots.
Certain herbs grow easily and quickly indoors, especially mint and chives. To get started with an indoor herb garden, first select a sunny and warm place and fill a well-drained pot with soil. When watering, focus on the roots, but do not overflow the herbs and drown their simple root systems. Put your fingers under the ground; if you feel moisture, skip watering that day.
If you want to continue growing them, trim the leaves at the top, not the bottom. The large leaves at the bottom act as a solid base. Remove the end of the plant stem 1-2 inches. That exposed end will split and grow into two separate branches. Never prune more than one-third of the plant.
Many herbs – including basil, mint, and rosemary – can be put in the water to grow new roots and transferred to a pot of soil for re-growth.