The garden in the kitchen

5 golden rules for growing plants at home

It is a sustainable, economic and organic choice. It will entertain the youngest but relax the adults and keep those who are older active. It is the homemade vegetable garden. Whether it is on a small balcony or on a terrace, the home vegetable garden is a pastime for everybody that lets you spend time engaging the mind and the body in a job that involves care and attention and a touch of science. First of all, growing and consuming aromatic herbs, vegetables and some fruit from directly inside your own home is the best way to follow the philosophy of Km0. Additionally, it is a way to gratify yourself and to discover once more the beauty of nature up close. Today it is possible to set up your own vegetable garden even if you do not have much open space available. Here is some essential advice for beginning your adventure.

1. SPACE AND LIGHT

If you decide for an indoor garden, firstly you need to find an area of the house that is big enough to be able to hold a number of vases or plastic basins and that has enough light (at least 5 or 6 hours a day) and preferably exposed to the south-east or south-west. In fact, with good planning of the space, the harvest will continue for all the year, simply because it is sheltered from winter temperatures but equally fed with sunlight. 

The ideal solution would be to place the garden in front of a sunny window of a cool room, especially for all leafy vegetables (lettuce) and root vegetables (carrots, radishes) that take up little space, while setting up another area in a warmer part of the house, species such as cucumbers, beans, tomatoes and capsicums that produce fruit for a certain period of the year and need more warmth.

2. VASES and BOWLS

If it is true that many aromatic herbs, as well as other garden plants that grow perfectly in terracotta vases with saucers, it also true that in a first phase a seedbed will be needed, in other words, a shallow but wide container that can contain soil and seeds. Normally plastic bowls recycled from other foods can be excellent substitutes. 

Once the seedlings have grown, each will be transferred into a vase that will be proportional to the type and will allow the stem to grow and the roots to extend. Size and depth determine the kind of vegetable they can host. For limited roots such as lettuce (of varieties that are also very decorative), a depth of 20-25cm is needed, while cultivating capsicums, tomatoes and small aubergines must be of 30-40cm.

3. SOIL and FERTLILIZERS

This is an essential choice according to the type of plants being treated. A good part of the whole vase must be filled to at least three quarters with rich soil that guarantees proper drainage, maintains the necessary humidity and brings nutrients. A medium textured soil can be used (earth, peat, perlite, vermiculite) or universal, but the important thing is that balanced and slow liquid fertilizer is added to each vase, although the need is less for plants grown indoors. 

4. IRRIGATION and HUMIDITY

Like the light and the ambient temperature in which they are placed, house plants need constant irrigation as they cannot exploit the rain and the humidity they themselves produce. The rations of water must be at room temperature, constant and frequent depending on the species. 

Finally, much care must be taken to the presence of heat sources, especially in winter when they are lit, because they dry the air. One trick (also for those who live in the home and not just for the plants) is to place a bowl of water on the heat source that, as it evaporates with the heat, will make the room’s humidity more correct and balanced.

5. CHOICE and TRADITIONS

It is always good to choose traditional seeds, that is plants that have at least fifty years of history with them, and, if possible, orient yourself towards local varieties so that the climate in general is not an obstacle but, on the contrary, of benefit to the growth of the plants. The marvel is that the small supply of household horticultural supply will also allow you to always (or nearly always) have new seeds for the following year, beginning with the fruits of the same seedlings.

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