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water grown veggies

Growing food indoors need not mean pots of compost to be invaded, as they often are, by ants and other creepy-crawlies as, you will be pleased to know, compost/soil is not necessary for some plants to thrive: water will suffice.

The simplest edibles to grow in shallow containers of water placed on a bright – not hot – indoor window ledge are those that can be re-grown from vegetable ‘waste’ with the following being ideal.

The bottom one inch of green onions with a little root intact, the bases of bok choy, celery, garlic, lettuce and onions, all grow, usually quite fast. This makes for a nice crop of tasty greens which are perfect for use in salads, stir fries, omelettes and plenty of other dishes too. The top half inch of a carrot sends up feathery green shoots in a matter of days when placed in a shallow container of water, and these are great for salads, sandwiches, garnish and even in raita. Remember to top up the water regularly and, in the case of spring onions, ensure that they do not fall over.

Vegetables requiring more water (sweet potatoes for example), should be grown balanced in the top of a narrow-necked water container, with just their base coming into direct contact with the water below. If the sweet potato threatens to slide down and get submerged, hold it in place with wooden toothpicks inserted at strategic angles. Sweet potatoes, which take much longer to produce than the aforementioned greens, form a large vine and, eventually, produce lots of tubers too.

Remember, using water as a growing medium does not mean providing a handy indoor breeding ground for mosquitoes; a drop of cooking oil on the water surface forms a protective skin which mosquitoes cannot penetrate to lay their eggs, and this little drop does not adversely affect plant growth.

– B Khan
First published in the ADBUZZZZ Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on March 30, 2014.