Indoor gardening: fruit trees, herbs, beans and sprouts – Mother Earth News

At two weeks of regrowth, there may be snow outside, but there are loose onions growing inside. Pictures of Jo de Vries

A new year begins, but when we look outside, nothing much has changed. Here in Eastern Ontario, Canada, we are generally confined to a deep freezer for the next two months. The only novelty is the last deposit of snow. Our hearts yearn to work again in the gardens, which are currently sleeping under a hard, frozen crust. We eagerly await the latest seed catalogs and magazines, ready to bury ourselves in our favorite chair with a hot cup of tea as soon as they arrive.

Keeping our spirits up is important – and keeping our homes clean and fresh is a good start. If our environment stagnates, we will not function to our full potential. Remember to open the windows for a short time every other day to circulate the air in your home. The fresh air and connection to nature do wonders for the soul!

One way to keep our homes cool and things exciting is to grow edibles indoors. This can be accomplished by growing houseplants that will flower and bear fruit, or provide a continuous supply of cut and seasoned greens.

Freshly cut green onions are placed in the ground.

Indoor gardening

The April/May 2020 issue of Mother Earth News featured an article titled “The Garden of Rebirth”. In it, author William Rubel had many nifty tips on regenerating vegetables from the unused root portion of grocery store vegetables. I took his advice and put in some green onion roots and some rotten beets that were forgotten in the root cellar in my garden. A few weeks later, I started harvesting green onions and beet greens for salads. Everything is free to pick up!

I wondered if I would have as much success trying this idea indoors. So, about a month ago, I planted green onions in a pot of soil and eagerly awaited the results. In just a few days, the white of the base of the onion turned a green color in its center, and new growth was visible. Once the roots were firmly established, the onions grew nearly an inch each day. It was exciting to see their development; to witness obvious changes on a daily basis.

I also did some accidental gardening in my root cellar. Beets contained in a large plastic container, grew healthy leaves, despite the lack of light and what I thought was very dry soil. Condensation formed on the inside of the lid and I had salad fixings growing satisfactorily without even knowing it.

After five days, green onion roots show growth and color. Fresh new growth is uplifting and comforting.

Indoor fruit trees

Today, many nurseries (and even some of the larger building supply stores) sell miniature fruit trees. For the past few years I have grown full sized lemons and limes, as well as miniature oranges, on 3 foot trees in pots in my little cabin. Lemons take almost a full year to grow, but it’s fascinating to watch the different stages of growth. Lemon flowers have the most amazing aroma, and a healthy plant is full of them. A single lemon tree will fill a room with heavenly scent for weeks while it blooms.

After the flowers die, the tiny lemons emerge from their center. A plant can contain hundreds of small lemons, which it cannot support, so it is important to remove all but a few. I grew three lemons on one plant and five limes on another. The bright lemon yellow color against green leaves is uplifting even on the dullest of days. It’s so satisfying to look out the window, outside into the snowy yard, and see lemons sprouting in mid-January.

The downside to my house is that the wood stove dries the air too much for the plants. I need to spray my plants regularly. My fruit trees were slowly deteriorating and some died, so the others moved in with my son. A greenhouse is definitely in the plans.

kitchen herbs

Fresh herbs growing on a sunny windowsill are a delight in the dead of winter. Many grocery stores now sell herbs in their vegetable aisles. A few sprigs of fresh parsley or basil leaves can make all the difference in a meal.

Crushed mint leaves enhance cold drinks, hot chocolate, salads and desserts. Leave a few stems on your plant to go to seed and grow your own plants for free.

magic beans

If you’re looking for a quick gardening fix, consider Jack’s Beanstalk. I tend to think all seeds are somewhat magical, but beans are amazing. Poke a dry bean in a little soil, add a little water, and voila, in a few days you will see new life.

Children especially enjoy watching plants grow. They are fun to watch; change happens so fast. Every day the plant will stretch its new green shoots towards the sun. A strong shoot is followed by a sturdy stem that develops leaves in no time. Already a few centimeters high, it coils and twists in search of something to climb. Its growth can be measured in hours. Every day there is change.

In no time, small, striking orchid-like flowers appear. The flowers are complex and come in a wide variety of colors. If you watch closely, you may have the opportunity to witness the blossoming of a flower. Then, when the flower dies, a seed pod emerges from the middle of the flower. A small bean, suitable for a Barbie dinner, grows in the center of the flower. The bean pod grows at an incredible speed. The bean stalk continues to climb as the pods mature. Whether you want to pick green beans to eat or bean pods to dry, picking them is great fun! The dying plant can go into the compost and the whole process repeats itself.

Bean plants help improve the soil by adding nitrogen to increase soil fertility. While most plants extract nutrients from the earth, beans are a plant that gives back. Maybe a few beans in the houseplant pots wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Sprout seeds, beans and nuts

Sprouting seeds is another great way to enjoy fresh green vegetables, all year round. The crunch of vigorous sprouts makes a great nutritious addition to sandwiches or salads. Mung, alfalfa, fenugreek, and radish are some of the most popular, but cabbage, chives, red clover, lentils, peas, black sunflower, and many other seeds are great for sprouting.

Sprouted nuts, such as almonds and peanuts, are healthy and delicious and are easier to chew than hard nuts. Germination is easy, requiring only: seeds, a glass jar, water and an abundant daily rinsing with clear water. Check the Internet for more details and the germination time required for specific seeds or nuts.

Whether it’s lush green plants from a nursery, or just kitchen scraps or a few old beans, you can breathe new life into your home – and fast. Open the windows, breathe in the fresh air, and prepare to see something new and exciting happen every day.

Jo de Vries (Jo of the Woods) designed and helped build her off-grid home in Ontario, where she and her son enjoyed a pioneer-like lifestyle without electricity. She is the author ofDoes your house know where south is? and generously shares what she has learned on her ongoing journey to turn a piece of bush into a self-sufficient farm. Login withJoe of the woodsand read all those of Jo NEWS FROM MOTHER EARTH postshere.


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