Gardening is popular for a reason: it is therapeutic and a great way to save on your grocery bill with fresh vegetables and fruits. Getting started can be a bit intimidating. With a little verve and experimentation, you can grow plants outdoors and indoors. Here’s how to save on seeds and pots:
What you sow is what you grow: Start with good seeds. Wait! That does not mean you have to go out and by expensive seeds in stores.
- Tomatoes: Buy a couple of good ones during your next trip to the supermarket. Cut the tomatoes into halves, de-seed, and let the seeds dry on a kitchen towel. They are ready to sow. (Use the rest of the tomato in sauce or salad.)
- Chilies and Peppers: Instead of throwing away the seeds when chopping up hot peppers, let them dry for a day or two on a kitchen towel. Sow in a pot and harvest when ready. (Pictured is my 30-day old pepper plant.)
- Garlic: Sow unused or old Garlic pods. Pods grow faster than the seeds. I had a garlic bulb with 5 pods sitting in the fridge for a long time. I separated the pods and sowed with the tip facing up. They grew two or three centimeters a day! I pinch a bit of green shoots every now and then and use it in noodles. The green shoots regrow!
- Fava Beans (aka Broad Beans): The last time I made a stir fry with beans, I kept aside four seeds and sowed them. Two grew into good-sized plants. Use good-sized, mature seeds to get plants.
- Herbs: Some herbs, like mint and oregano, grow from cuttings. Ask a friend or neighbor for a cutting (that’s free!) Other herbs, like coriander, need to be grown from seeds. You can buy a packet with enough seeds for five standard bunches from most ethnic food shops.
- Fruits: If you have room for fruit trees, save the big seeds/pits. Fruit grows best on grafted trees that are $35. But you can grow peaches and apricots starting from the seeds! You'll need to do some research, and here's a good source. It will likely take three to five years to get your own fruit. Start in summer with fully-ripe fruit for best results. Let the pits dry on your kitchen counter for a few days. When the pits look and feel dry, crack them open to harvest the actual seeds and put them in a closed container in your refrigerator for two or three months (you read that right). In early spring, plant the seeds in pots and bury those in the garden.
Free Containers: To get started in gardening, I didn’t want to make a big investment. So I started saving butter tubs, yogurt pots and other plastic tubs. They work great as seed trays. Once the seeds sprouted and grew, I purchased a couple of terracotta pots and transferred the plants.
Don’t Buy Fertilizer: If you have outdoor garden space, run your kitchen waste (vegetable and fruit peels) in a food processor and mix it with soil. The smaller the size of the organic waste, the faster it degrades. Caution: Don’t use kitchen waste as fertilizer for indoor gardening.
This has been a guest post by Lakshmi from Hampshire, United Kingdom
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