Urban farming has grown in popularity, especially for people who live in land-sparse cities. People have taken to growing their own organic vegetables and herbs at home, even in a high-rise apartment.
However, as edible plants are usually sun-loving, both the intensity as well as duration of sunlight received are important to achieving healthy growth.
The general rule of thumb is that edible plants should be exposed to direct sunlight for at least four to six hours a day. To tell if an area is suitable, simply look out for dark and sharp shadows—these are usually an indication of direct sunlight. Once you’ve picked the right sunny spot, the chances of your little organic farm taking off would be much higher.
- Do take care to choose easy-to-grow edibles when you’re starting out so that you won’t get discouraged too soon.
- Quite a number of the vegetables and herbs grown can be successfully started from seed in pots. Salad greens such as rocket, mizuna, mibuna and mustard greens are relatively fuss-free. These offer a variety of tastes, from spicy to mild.
- Sweet basil is commonly found in many home herb gardens, and it’s not hard to see why—fresh basil smells great, and can be used in a variety of dishes. While most herbs prefer dry, well-drained soil, basil prefers to be kept moist (though not waterlogged).
- Compost is easily available these days, so you can purchase some if you don’t have the space or time to make your own. By combining loam, compost and coarse sand in equal parts, you’ll get a soil mix that provides nutrients, retains moisture and improves drainage. Plant your seeds according to the instructions on the seed pack, and water thoroughly.
- Vegetables should be fed with organic fertiliser every few weeks, and herbs a little less often. You can also create a natural pest repellent with a garlic-infused concoction to be sprayed on your plants.
DIY: Grow Your Own Bean Sprouts at Home
- Choose a small bean or seed. Almost any kind of beans can sprout. Mung beans are a popular choice easy available from markets. Dried beans are better than fresh beans as they are unlikely to go bad.
- Prepare and clean a container. Depending on the amount of beans, anything from a glass jar to a barrel will work.
- Wash bean sprouts with running water, similar to washing rice.
- Fill one-fifth of the container with beans, as it might be difficult to monitor the growth of too many beans.
- Pour water (room temperature) over the beans. Fill the container to the brim and cover it with a mesh lid or cotton cloth, secured with a rubber band. This allows just enough air to prevent mould from destroying the beans. Soak the beans for 8 to 10 hours in a shaded environment.
- Drain off the water through the cloth. Open the container and pour cold water over the beans. Shake the container. Reseal the container and drain the water again. Repeat this step 2 to 3 times a day to keep the beans clean and moist.
- Note the date and observe the sprouts grow. Beans take around five days to sprout.
- Harvest beans when they reach between one to three inches in length. Rinse, drain and allow the sprouts to dry on a clean paper towel for eight hours, till excess water evaporates.
Growing your own greens may take a little work, but will prove to be an extremely fulﬁlling experience. Especially when it’s time to harvest some fresh produce from your windowsill or balcony.