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FIELD NOTES WINTER 2011

growingfood

Greenhouses are not the only solution for growing food in the winter. Greens, fruits and vegetables can be grown in the cold winter months, indoors! Almost any windowsill, given enough light and a location that does not freeze in the winter, should work. Herbs in particular are fun, easy and very resourceful—you don’t have to leave the kitchen to get fresh, aromatic spices.  With an inventive eye and a curious mind, you can find foodgrowing niches all over the house!

Choose a location.

Generally, south-facing windows (in the Northern Hemisphere) are better locations for growing herbs, greens and vegetables as more light and heat pervade this area. When choosing a location, observe the space at various times over a few days and make sure it gets direct sunlight, especially in the morning. There is no need to be too fussy, however, as the great thing about potted plants is they are mobile: If they are not doing well in one location, just pick up the pots and move them.

Select herbs, vegetables and greens.

More important than “what will grow” is “what you will eat”!  Choose seeds or seedlings of foods you like, so you not only enjoy growing them, but anticipate eating them!

Choose your containers.

Planting in any container with drainage should do. Get creative!  An old milk carton or a wicker basket can work just as well as a ceramic flowerpot. I recommend using organic or local potting mix without peat moss to cut down on unnecessary fossil fuel consumption. Good-quality compost is the key ingredient. If starting from seed, sow the seed in the soil only two times deeper than the length of the seed. Make sure the soil is damp and not soaked.  Herbs generally do not like to sit in wet soil.

Harvest!

I like to think of my harvests as pruning. Harvesting inspires the plant to grow, like a good haircut, and at the same time provides the rewards of my efforts.

Windowsill gardening is a simple, family-fun project, and is a great way to get children and adults alike inspired to grow food and begin the journey towards a sustainable lifestyle. In the next issue of edibleASPEN I will cover spring garden design and other foodproducing backyard project ideas!

For more ideas or support with gardening, composting or any food production projects, contact Aspen T.R.E.E.—Together Regenerating the Environment through Education—at www.aspen-tree.org.


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