indoor gardening

How Does Your Garden Grow? Why, Right In The Kitchen

Even the smallest urban kitchen can have an indoor garden. You just have to find a creative location for it. For example, countertops, windowsills and even walls can be great planting spots, and the harvest is worth the effort. “Kitchen gardens are an easy, affordable way to enjoy fragrant scents, fresher air, tasty edibles and a connection with nature—all within arm’s reach of where you’re cooking,” says Jennifer Long, co-founder of Garden Tribe. Read on to learn where in your kitchen you can get your green thumb on.

The Windowsill

If you have a southern exposure and four to six hours of sunlight daily, this is the perfect place to start container gardening. Long recommends focusing on heartier herbs like thyme, basil, rosemary and oregano. Additionally, she says, “Start with plants from your local garden center, which is easier than starting from seeds.” Once you get a feel for what grows well in your environment, group your plantings: basil with items like arugula, cilantro and other aromatic greens for example.

Almost anything can work as a container, like soup cans and plastic buckets, as long as you poke holes at the bottom for drainage. “But be mindful [of] materials that may be toxic,” says Long, “since you’ll be eating the fruits of this labor.” That means avoid reusing old paint cans or anything that previously held something other than food. To ensure proper drainage, make sure containers have at least one hole in the bottom, and fill out larger containers with fresh organic potting mix.

As for watering, the top inch of soil should dry out in between feedings, but everything below should stay moist. Water deeply so that water runs out of the bottom of the pot into a saucer, but don’t let the plants sit in standing water for more than a few minutes.

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The Walls

For those short on square footage, a vertical garden can turn a blank wall space into a growing surface. All you need is a support structure and a nearby door or window for some sunlight. Try felt pocket planters (which you can DIY or buy) or “living pictures,” which are wood frames full of moss that you can plant in. Add some kind of a tray to catch excess runoff if your setup doesn’t include one.

Long recommends grouping your plants by their watering needs so they always get the appropriate amount. “Don’t mix dry-condition plants with water lovers, ” Long says.

The Counter

If you geek out over science, try a hydroponic garden where you sprout and grow plants in water without soil—ideal for countertops and kitchens with too little natural light: “Hydro” options like the AeroGarden let you substitute an LED lamp for sunlight. (Herbs and lettuces sourced hydroponically fare well.) While most kits are designed for counters, they also make for a nice decor on a desk or kitchen table. You can also house a simple kit in a sunny windowsill.

The Floor

If fragrant flowers, glossy leaves and fresh fruit are your thing, clear some floor space for a citrus tree. While dwarf citrus trees require higher maintenance than other options, they’re trendy, and turn out nice drink and meal garnishes. For best results, grow citrus in a large container that gets eight to 12 hours of direct sun a day.

Quiz: What’s Your Gardening IQ?

Maybe you keep potted herbs on your windowsill—or maybe you volunteer in your community garden. Whatever your planting experience, take our quiz, developed with Weston Miller, community horticulturist at Oregon State University, to see whether you’ve got a green thumb … or whether you’re just green when it comes to gardening.

After you upgrade your kitchen, make sure your investment is protected. Get a fast, free homeowners insurance quote through the GEICO Insurance Agency.

Read more: Now that your indoor garden is set up, upgrade your outdoor space with these curb appeal ideas.

By Danielle Blundell

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