Now that we’ve been indoors for approximately 486 years (or 5 weeks, whichever you prefer) you might want to add to your repertoire of indoor activities. Growing your own veggies and herbs can save you a trip to the shops, give you something new to look at in your kitchen and help the environment all at the same time. Win, win, win.
I find it easiest to use water to propagate new plants or cuttings, as you can easily check up on root growth and see progress happening or realise you need to change the water or put them in a sunnier spot.
This is the easiest one to start off with, and it grows relatively fast so it’s pretty satisfying to watch its progress. Take your full celery plant, cut off the whole bottom part and pop it into a glass or shallow bowl of water, roots down. Change the water every day or as often as you can remember, and it will start to grow pretty quickly. Once the leaves start thickening growing along the base, you can transfer it to the garden or a pot of soil, water it well and make sure it gets a fair amount of light.
Once you have an unlimited supply of celery, look up mirepoix and learn how to cook the yummiest soups, stews, almost anything, using every last bit of the celery.
Cut a leafy stem off your existing basil plant, and then remove all leaves except for the top four. You can eat all of those leaves – so use them in your cooking or make a vegan pesto.
Each node, where you removed the leaves, is where the new roots will grow, so the more nodes the better. Pop them into a glass or mug of water and leave in a bright sunny windowsill. How fast they grow depends on how much light and heat they get. Once they have lots of little roots, move them into pots and you can harvest all over again.
Cut the onion about 2.5 cm from the bottom and remove the outer layer of skin.
Leave to dry for 12-24 hours. Poke 4 toothpicks into the onion and suspend it over a glass or bowl of water – just touching the top of the water. Place it somewhere warm and bright, and once roots have established, plant the onion 5 cm below the surface of the soil.
When your onion starts to grow flowers, it’s ready to harvest, usually 3 or 4 months after planting. Not sure what to do with your onion harvest? Try this delicious onion marmalade.
I’ve had less luck with this, personally, but my flat has very little light and I have very little patience, so go ahead and see if you can do better. I believe in you.
If you’ve been making so many batches of Ina Garten’s garlic roast potatoes that you’ve decided you might as well make grow your own garlic, you’re in luck. The theory here is simple: start with large heads of fresh, organic if possible, garlic. Pop a few of the larger cloves out of the head and plant them directly into good soil, roots down and tips up, about 5 cm deep, 20 cm apart. They need full sun, so try and pick a nice bright place for them to live. Water them once a week and mulch them. Once the shoots that grow out of them start to turn brown, the garlic is ready to harvest.
Mushies can be quite tricky to grow – they need a lot of warmth, humidity and very nutrient-rich soil. It’s easier to plant them in pots for this reason – you can control the environment a little more that way. Once you have all of those things in place, cut the head of the mushroom away from the stem. Place the stem into the soil leaving the top exposed. A new head will begin to grow on the stem. Once you have all the mushrooms you’ve ever dreamt of, try this creamy mushroom and leek risotto.
Many different kinds of chillies can be grown from seeds. Just plant them 1 cm deep in potting soil and keep them somewhere warm (indoors or in a sunny, protected bit of garden) and with good drainage. They grow relatively fast, so you’ll be able to harvest new peppers in about three months.
For bonus points, you can grow things like avos and pineapples, but you’ll need to invest a lot more time before you can harvest them Happy planting!
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Mimi has lived in Cape Town long enough to pick up every cliche possible. She works in advertising by day and has three side hustles: teaching yoga (to help people be less kak towards themselves), volunteering for a women’s organisation (less kak towards each other), and Aurora (less kak to the environment).