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Indoor Nutritional Growing For The Cold Months

Indoor Nutritional Growing For The Cold Months
Our next #30in30 #nutritionmonth blog post is from Steve Green, Network Coordinator for the Windsor Essex County Community Garden Collective. Thank you  for submitting!
 
In my role as Network Coordinator for the Community Gardens and Urban Agriculture in Windsor and Essex County, I am regularly confronted with the question about affordable fresh food in the cold months. Citizens are willing and able to engage in food production in the warm weather but are often stumped when it comes to what to do when mercury drops below zero. While the snow interrupts much of our growing, our homes can provide a perfect environment for small scale and nutritious food production. Here are a few examples of what can be done on a very small scale.
 
Sprouts
One of the easiest foods to grow indoors, sprouts can be grown on your window ledge and be ready to eat in less than a week. There are many varieties of sprouts that you can grow. You can even purchase sprout seed mixes custom to your own tastes. Or, you can purchase a bag of mung beans at the grocery store and sprout them at home tonight. Bean sprouts seem to be a favourite of children and are an easy and fun way to introduce them to the concept of growing your own food. It’s cheap and very low risk. It does not require any special equipment. Soak and rinse. Repeat. Once you acquire your sprouting seed, you’re ready to grow. I keep it very simple and still only use a mason jar and some netting on the top of the jar to do my daily rinse. Here is one good link to get you started. There are plenty more on the web. Sprout Peoeple also have a great breakdown on the nutritional value of sprouts.
 
Lettuce, Kale, and Greens
Another easy food source can be salad greens. Lettuce, baby kale, mizuna and the whole family of greens are rather easy to grow inside. You can use the traditional medium of soil and grow them in a small pot or container, if that is what you prefer. I use a more industrious method of growing. I prefer to grow my greens in hydroponic bins. I take a plastic bus bin (the kind you find servers carrying dishes back to the kitchen) and use them as ‘bubbler bins’. This method is a little more intensive. It requires about $10 in supplies and a small-scale air pump (the kind you would use for aquarium). Greens are grown in baskets that hang down through the lid of the bin and get fed some organic plant food. You can grow a variety of greens in the growing medium and have a salad bowl growing inside your house. Warning, your cats will also like these greens! Here is a link for a bin that does not use an air pump, and here is a link for the type of system that I make.
 
Herbs, Flowers, Tomatoes and Peppers
Many of our herb family will grow just fine in the house. I leave mine in the windowsill and bring a few into my outdoor greenhouse so that we have chives and some basil during the winter time. Treat them as you would any other plant. I also uprooted a few of my cherry tomato plants and enjoy cherry tomatoes right into December. My pepper plants are still growing strong and producing hot peppers and it is February. There are many varieties of edible flowers that will grow inside that you can add to your salad, as well. Don’t be afraid to try some of these nutritional and decorative additions. You might just like it. Here is a link to Rodale’s 10 Best Herbs to grow indoors over the wintertime.
 
Steve Green is the Network Coordinator for the Windsor Essex County Community Garden Collective, a network of community gardens and urban agriculture projects. He is also the General Manager of the Downtown Windsor Farmers Market, a thriving seasonal farmers market located in the heart of downtown Windsor, Ontario. www.wegarden.ca

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