Spring is in the wind 2

It’s amazing how a seed so small can grow into a plant so full. That’s Mother Nature! Tiny snowflakes compile to inches or feet of snow; when funneled together, single raindrops can flood a street, replenish a river, and turn a back yard into a mud fest. Nature is replete with small things becoming big things; human embryos becoming adults included.

Seeds for edible produce run the gamut of size:

  • tiny: sesame, flax, or poppy, broccoli
  • small: tomato, tomatillo, kale and chard, Brussel sprout, carrot
  • middling: apple, all citrus, cardamon, cilantro, peas, beans
  • getting bigger: squash and pumpkin, garlic cloves
  • big: plum, peach
  • grande: avocado, mango

This list is incomplete but it’s fun to consider what grows from a plant seed. Long trailer vines or heavy laden trees? Herbs that scent the wind and delight the nose when weeding or prickly berry bushes? And what colors, textures, and tastes await a patient gardener or farmer?

I’ve always grown food organically, even before this word entered the lexicon. Today, I want to show you how easy it is to grow small amounts of greens and herbs on a window sill using recyclable containers. During the outdoor season, I let items go to seed in order to harvest the seed for next season plus indoor growing through the winter (according to the food item).

From left to right: baby arugula (the tail end of tray I’ve been eating from for a month), Mother Hadley lettuce (delicious head lettuce or as baby greens), and a tray of cilantro (recently clipped for tacos, and now has filled in the hole and grown fuller).

I start indoor food items with an organic cellulose mat on top of a mat of coconut husk in whatever is being used as a growing container. It gives the sprouting seeds easy rooting. Arugula, clover sprouts, and such microgreens stay in that combination through the course of eating them (water added, of course). Things that will grow longer and fuller require soil. So, after they are established, I merely pick up the cellulose and coconut mat with the baby plants as a unit, fill the container with organic soil (I use a raised bed mix), water, and done. Eat what is thinned; the remaining plants grow larger.

I purchased quantity of org. cellulose mat plus a roll of coconut husk mat, so I have plenty for years to come. It was cheap, and now it is on hand.

Below are the baby tomato plants two weeks after the last post. I also experimented with letting the seeds continue to grow in the cellulose medium to see what happened. They grew! So, the next set of seedling plants were more mature. There are now 51 seedlings of 9 varieties for six households and the rest for sale in my front yard.

I’ll start parsley and basil soon.

What is so fun about all of this is eating one’s own produce! Apples picked in October  lasted through December. Tomatoes harvested green slowly ripened through early December. Winter squashes? The last one was eaten in early February. All were kept in a cold room (guest room, no heat on). The mint medley harvested and dried is still providing delicious tea with plenty in jars to last until first harvest this season. I gave away a bunch, too! Basil and thyme – yep, still using those from the season. Rosemary was brought inside and is used for soups. Oh, and the mountain spinach harvested and frozen is put in morning eggs, soups, and I’ve made a couple of saags from it. I love gardening!

About Donna Mitchell-Moniak

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