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You Can Grow It: Easy vegetable container gardening

Jim Duthie shows us some easy garden projects for the whole family.

As long as we’re spending more time at home these days, why not plant some seeds and watch them grow.  Master gardener Jim Duthie shows us some easy garden projects for the whole family.

If you’re stuck at home and you’re looking for projects to keep yourself and the kids busy, why not start a garden? Now is a good time to plant early spring vegetables that you can harvest in just a few weeks.

JIm shows us how to get a small garden started right now, either indoors or outdoors, no matter how much space you have.

The spread of the coronavirus has disrupted most of our normal activities and routines. So if you find yourself self-quarantined, or you’re staying at home with the family and looking for things to do, gardening is a great activity for the whole family.

Even though spring is finally here, the weather is still too chilly for most garden plants. But it’s the perfect time to plant cool weather vegetables outside, as well as starting some plants indoors.

I started my tomatoes and peppers inside a couple of weeks ago, along with some flower seeds like marigolds and zinnias. They’re already big enough to transfer to small pots, where they’ll continue to grow until the weather is warm enough for them to be planted outside in the garden.

But today I’m going to plant some onions and radishes. These vegetables thrive in the cool weather of early spring, along with other crops like lettuce, spinach, turnips and peas.

I haven’t had a chance to get my garden beds ready for planting yet, so I’m going to plant these onions and radishes in a container that will sit just outside my back door. And since they’re considered companion plants, they’ll grow just fine planted close together.

I found a variety of bunching onions called ‘Warrior,’ which is suited for container planting. I also have a type of radish that grows well in containers, called ‘French Breakfast.’ Unlike typical round radishes, they’ll grow longer like a small carrot.

My container was filled with fine organic soil that’s perfect for sprouting seeds. Since these seeds are small, they only need to be planted about a half inch deep. You can make a shallow furrow, or just press the seeds gently into the soil. The onions need to be spaced about three inches apart so they’ll have room to bunch as they grow. But the radishes can be planted closer together, about an inch apart.

With a little water and some March sunshine, the radishes will germinate quickly, in four to seven days, and will be ready to harvest by about mid-April. The onions will take about 10 days to sprout, and they’ll be ready to pick by mid- to late-May.

If you’re short on space outside, try planting a micro-green garden indoors. I started these a couple of weeks ago. It’s a mixture of different types of lettuce. But you can grow lots of things as micro-greens -- even radish seeds.

Lindsay Schramm at North End Organic Nursery explains more about micro-greens:

“Micro-greens are a stage in-between a sprout and a full grown plant. So they’re kind of considered like the toddler of the plant world.”

“Pretty much anything where you would eat the plant itself, in the process of growing it, can be used as a micro-green.”

“All you need is some soil, a container of any kind, water, and a little bit of light.”

“Put some soil in them, sprinkle the seeds on top, water them, give them the light that they need, and from 7 to 21 days from now you’ve got instant salad micro-greens.”

My micro-greens are just about ready to harvest. I’ll cut them off at soil level and use them in salads or on sandwiches. Then I’ll replant the tray and grow some more. Try planting a couple of containers a week or two apart for a constant harvest.

Simple garden projects like these are great for the whole family to do together. They also provide worthwhile educational activities for the kids during these weeks when they’re out of school. They’ll have fun and learn about nature by planting the seeds and watching them grow, and they’ll probably be more likely to eat these vegetables since they grew them themselves.

You’ll find all the seeds and growing supplies you need at local garden centers. But if you don’t want to venture out to a store, you can also buy everything you need online.

By the way, be sure to join Jim’s ‘You Can Grow It’ group on Facebook. You can share gardening photos, ask questions, and share gardening tips with other gardeners.

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