Got some green kitchen scraps? Before you compost the stalky bits or (heaven forbid) throw them in the bin, consider all the lovely free, green leafy veggies you could grow with relatively little effort. This is easy, small space gardening that doesn’t require a vegetable patch. A window box, a few flower pots or a grow bag will hold enough soil or potting compost; it’s perfect balcony or patio gardening that anyone, young or not-so-young can enjoy.
A Backyard Oasis
I began to research this method of propagation during Lockdown, after visiting Angela’s tiny backyard in Tooting. I’d dropped round with a food parcel for her, and discovered she was cultivating a couple of raised beds with spring onions and what I thought was a courgette plant - but turned out to be a mighty squash!
I was impressed and moved with her ingenuity and determination, transforming a drab little yard into a green oasis, that in time would help her to feed herself. The following week, I brought her another item as well as some groceries - a tomato plant. My volunteer delivery driver, Jo had given me three plants the week before, so I had one to spare. When I turned up with the little plant, Angela was so excited, she immediately began to dig a hole in the soil with her hands, to prepare its new home.
Veggie Bits and Pieces to Regrow:
Lettuce, Pak Choi, Fennel, Celery: plant base of stem shallowly in soil
Spring Onions: use trimmed base where roots show (white part) and plant in soil
Tomatoes, Peppers and Chilli Peppers: watch these online videos
Salad Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes: plant sprouting spuds in a bucket
Squash, Courgette, Melon: save and dry seeds
Coriander, Dill, Fennel, Fenugreek (Methi), Lovage: use seeds sold as herbs/spices
Short cuts during the Shortage
During Lockdown, vegetable seeds and plants were in scarce supply at garden centres. My neighbour tried her hand at growing a few of the sprouted potatoes that I didn’t add to the Be Enriched compost bin. She had fantastic results within 6 weeks of continual growth and earthing up. Flowers have now appeared at 8 weeks, and she could be lifting a small crop by early September.
Growing your own veg from green scraps or surplus produce is an economic and practical way of resolving the issue of having no pre-grown plug plants, and cuts out the waiting time with seeds, as you’ve not had to sow and germinate them before you plant out.
Know your Onions and eat your Greens
We’d like to hear about your successes and set-backs with vegetable growing. You’re bound to teach us something we didn’t know.
I’m off to check the Callaloo (Amaranth) that grows almost wild across the allotments in Streatham Vale. If you have a recipe that uses this green leafy plant, well known and loved across the Caribbean, post it here.