21-day lockdown – Day 3 – Finding vegetables to plant
Now that we’ve whet your appetite with the possibility of planting your own vegetables, you’re no doubt wanting to take the plunge since you have more time on your hands. Sadly, all garden centres are closed for the lockdown, so you can’t rush out to buy seedlings to kickstart your enterprise. But don’t despair, there are still some possibilities within reach.
While preparing a potato dish, I realised that some of my potatoes had started sprouting. Instead of simply adding these to the bokashi bin, I cut off the sections with the developing buds and saved them to plant in the garden. The sprouts will be planted 2cm below the soil level, and about 40cm apart, and then covered. The soil needs to be kept moist throughout the growing period. Within 1-2 weeks, the first leaves will start to appear and, depending on your climate, you should be harvesting your crop in 2-3 months.
cut off the sprouting ends of potatoes and plant them them 2cm below the ground, and 40cm apart
Even if you don’t have space in the garden, potatoes can still be planted in a container. Another novel way to plant potatoes is using old car tyres if you have any lying around. You can even get creative with the kids and paint the tyres with those half-used paint tins taking up space in the garage.
Store-bought vegetables are also a great source of seed, and these you can collect and set aside whilst you’re preparing your food. The gourd (Cucurbitaceae) family includes butternut, pumpkin, gem squash and water melon, and these are all particularly easy to cultivate from seed. They grow best in summer, so you’d need to save seed harvested now for sowing in October/November, but there’s no reason why you can’t experiment with them now and get some practice. If you are going to store them however, ensure that they are washed to remove any flesh, and dried before storing them in a container that allows air circulation. An envelope is ideal for this – remember to label it so that you know what you’re planting in a few months.
the seeds from half a gem squash
seeds in a freshly squeezed lemon
But if you want to plant now with the intention of harvesting, then there are other foods you may have at home that you can plant in your garden:
- Tomatoes: Save a few seeds when chopping a tomato and plant 2mm deep.
- Peppers: Green, red, yellow and chilli peppers grow easily from seed planted in a pot or directly in the ground.
- Ginger: Plant a piece of root that has a bud, 5cm below the surface.
- Lemon: Lemon trees can be grown successfully from seed. It will be approximately 5 years before you can harvest lemons from them, but in my opinion every home should have at least one lemon tree.
- Avocado: This, as many of us know, grows easily from a pip. It will not bear fruit for many years, but will be rewarding to plant if you have the space. Save yourself the toothpicks and plant it straight into the ground or a pot.
Most vegetable plants require a position in full sun, well-drained soil and daily watering. For more specific information, consider some online research to guide you.
Whilst you may have mixed success with your first attempt at planting vegetables, it is highly rewarding, as most have a short growing period, so you’ll notice daily signs of growth. Plus, there’s no greater pleasure than harvesting something you’ve grown in your own garden.
a young lemon tree (grown from seed) growing amongst our dicliptera clinopodia – this needs to be transplanted soon!