Most of us strive to “eat healthier”, but choosing healthy food options can be hard on the pocketbook. If you are interested in improving your nutrition and increasing your intake of fresh, pesticide free foods without breaking the bank, perhaps it’s time to consider a countertop garden.
Countertop gardening has been growing in popularity, and with good reason. A countertop garden requires very little time commitment (no weeding!) and is easy for even the novice gardener. Best of all, the start-up costs are small, and the space and tools required are minimal, making it ideal for even the smallest apartment.
Start with sprouts
If, like me, you have zero green thumbs, why not start with growing some sprouts? Sprouts are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and digestive enzymes. Growing sprouts is extremely rewarding, as you are able to harvest some varieties in just a few days!
All you need are some sprouting seeds from a reputable nursery or plant store (try alfalfa, radish, broccoli, mustard, clover), a strainer, and a wide mouth glass jar, a piece of cheesecloth and a rubber band. If you prefer, you can get a countertop sprouting tray like this one.
Measure 1-2 tablespoons of seeds into a jar or tray. Cover the seeds with water, and soak for 8 hours. Using a strainer, drain the seeds and rinse well. Return soaked seeds into the jar/tray. If using a jar, cover with cheesecloth and secure with rubber band. Invert at a 45-degree angle to allow air flow. If using a seed tray, cover loosely with lid.
Rinse and drain seeds twice a day, and keep out of direct sunlight. Before you know it, you’ll have an abundant crop of sprouts! Don’t worry, if it’s more than you can handle, excess sprouts can be stored in the fridge for a few days, just like the ones you buy from the supermarket.
Move on to microgreens
Once you’ve tried growing sprouts and you realise how rewarding and easy it is you will be eager to expand your garden. If you have space for even a small pot or two on a sunny kitchen counter, you have room to grow your own microgreen salad.
Microgreens are a fantastic addition to a countertop garden. Microgreens are edible immature vegetables, harvested before the plant reaches full size. They are nutritious, packed with flavour, and easier to digest than their full-grown counterparts. For the newbie gardener, try salad greens such as kale, arugula, pak choi, peas, beets or sunflowers – all of which are tasty and super easy to grow/hard to kill.
Best of all, you can do this mostly with things you already have. Do you have a shallow tray lying around? A compostable paper tray works well or you can just recycle packaging from the supermarket. If you want, pick up a planter with drainage holes. If you don’t have potting soil, get some from IKEA or a reputable nursery. While you’re there, pick up a few seeds.
Fill your tray or planter with soil, pat down and moisten with water. (No watering can? Use a cup.)
Sow your seeds – sprinkle them on by hand if they are small, or just gently insert the larger ones. Cover with a thin layer of soil.
Don’t forget to water the soil 1-2 times a day to keep the soil moist, not wet. You don’t want to drown your poor seeds. Make sure they get about 4 hours of sunlight a day for fastest growth.
Before you know it, the first set of growth will appear. Your greens are ready to be eaten once the first set of true leaves appear – this can take anywhere from 10 days up to 3 weeks, depending on the type of plant. When harvesting, don’t yank the whole plant up by the roots. Snip off only what you need to give the plant a chance to regrow.
Rinse, pat dry and enjoy your delicious, cheap salad!
Looking for more Vegetable Tools? Visit ezbuy for more inspiration!