Now more than ever, we’re all looking for activities to do at home. And gardening is a perfect example. Creating a little vegetable patch could also help you to relax and have fun as a family.
Here are some suggestions to help you get started in this activity which can feed both body and soul.
Sprouts and seeds
Microgreens and sprouts are an easy way to add a bit of greenery to your life, without leaving home.
These very small-scale crops also mean that you can produce a wide variety of foods: clover, alfalfa, beetroot, mustard, radishes, sunflower, peas, chickpeas and all kinds of beans, to name just a few.
This crop has a lot of advantages:
- It doesn’t require special gardening skills or horticultural knowledge.
- You get results quickly: seeds germinate in just a few days. The sprouts are ready to harvest in much less time than whole vegetables.
- It is cheap and doesn’t require much equipment: to get started inexpensively, you just need a pack of seeds for sprouting, which can be bought online from a Québec producer, and a glass jar or a little soil in a shallow container.
- It helps contribute to a healthy diet: you can grow fresh greenery that’s full of vitamins, fibre and minerals from the comfort of your own kitchen.
- It helps introduce children to agriculture: they’ll love watching how these “baby plants” grow from seed to harvest.
Learn how on the Pousses et germinations page (French only) of the Guide de l'agriculture urbaine.
Growing in indoor pots
Potted plants bring life to a home and you can also grow edible plants indoors. Potted plants are a good option if you don't have a balcony or a garden.
Herbs are particularly well-suited to indoor growing. Watercress, basil and coriander grow quickly and give good results.
Avoid fruits and vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, etc.), as they require pollinating insects, such as bees, to give good results.
Remember to choose a specific potting soil suitable for indoor use. Outdoor potting soil is only suitable for flower beds and gardens.
Fruits, vegetables and edible flowers
Setting up a little vegetable patch, whether in the yard, on the balcony or in front of the house can help you meet some of your fresh fruit and vegetable needs.
Here are a few tips:
- Buy from Québec seed companies. As well as supporting local producers, it means your seeds and plants will be adapted to our climate. You will also benefit from appropriate advice to make sure your garden is a success.
- You can purchase your seeds and gardening equipment online. Many Québec companies take orders online and deliver their products to your door.
- Some varieties of vegetables take as little as 30 days to reach maturity. To ensure a quick harvest, opt for fast-growing vegetables and early varieties. Examples include lettuce, spinach, arugula, Swiss chard and radishes.
- And don’t forget about edible flowers such as nasturtium, carnations and borage. They are the perfect addition to salads and meats, and they will add colour to your garden.
Visit the Culture de fruits, de légumes et de fines herbes page (French only) of the Guide de l'agriculture urbaine.
Using what you already have
To make gardening cheaper, you can also try these tips using what you already have at home:
- Keep the heart of a lettuce or celery bought at your grocery store and plant it. You will be able to harvest the new leaves or stems that will form as they grow.
- Similarly, you can plant an onion and harvest the leaves to garnish your salads.
- You can also reuse the base of scallions. Place the white part (with the roots) in a small glass of water and it will keep growing back.
- Keep the seeds from inside of your favourite tomatoes. Dry them in the sun and then sow them. They should sprout and grow quickly.
- Mint is one of the most productive plants. Keep a couple of fresh stems in a glass of water. When roots form, just plant them in a pot. Don’t plant them in the ground! They might take over your whole vegetable patch.
- Whole dried beans and peas sold in grocery stores can also be used as sprouts and seeds.
Guide de l’agriculture urbaine (French only)
Last update: October 9, 2020