Courtesy, Agronomist Gordon Alert, Fresco Life Ltd.
Home Gardening in Small Spaces
For many, the consideration of having a vegetable or flower garden requires lots of space. Here we have undertaken the challenge of home gardening in the small spaces available to most home owners.
Mobility is key; to be able to respond to particular issues that make affect plants. But we can plant in several spaces: tyres, cement blocks, wooden pallets, grow boxes, shoes, and a variety of bags, fabric and plastic.
In small spaces we focus on the components that best support plants. These include:
- Root space and root volume
- Access to sunlight
- Plant nutrient availability
While all of us have spent a considerable time at home in the last few weeks, home gardening is definitely a relaxing and energizing way to pass the time.
Starting with Seeds and Cuttings
Whether or not you have been to your nearby plant or garden shop; there are certainly seeds and cuttings to be found in your kitchen.
Examples of plants that can start from cuttings include chives, onions, ginger and basil. Simply cut off the desired size, leaving about a half inch for the new roots to grow from. You can optionally soak this part in water for 3-5 days until they start rooting.
For seeds, simply slice open a pimento (seasoning pepper), bell pepper, papaya or even a tomato. You will find readily available seeds for planting.
Seed Dormancy and Maturity
When planting seeds from fruits or vegetables, there needs to be two considerations: dormancy and maturity. Dormancy of seeds is a natural phenomenon that prevents seeds from starting to grow inside of the fruit or vegetable, until these have started to degrade in some way. But if we want to use seeds this way, we need to break the dormancy first.
This is done by removing seeds on a paper towel or gazette paper and drying it in the sun for 2-3 days. After this when planted, germination will be fairly quick (in 3-7 days). If the dormancy breaking step is not done, the seeds will take longer to germinate.
Secondly, we want to make sure that the vegetable or fruit that we are using for seeds is fully mature. Therefore, green bodi or green cucumbers may not contain seeds that are sufficiently developed in order for them to germinate and grow normally.
Planting and Seeds and Cuttings
Vegetable seeds are small to tiny; therefore, seedling trays used are about an egg size of space or less. The idea is for the seed to germinate and grow to approximately 2 inches in height and then be transplanted into larger pots.
When planting cuttings, it is helpful to start with soil that is already mixed with organic manure and compost and fully hydrated. It is very important that the cuttings not be exposed to direct sunlight or water stress in any way. Additionally, we can encourage more rapid root development by using a rooting hormone to switch the plant node from leaf to root. Plant hormones are fully safe but need to be used in very small amounts.
Place all seedling trays and newly planted cuttings in a cool shady place and keep them moist for best results. Cuttings should be fully established in 7-10 and give the added boost of resuming production immediately.