By Ray Greenstreet
Alexandria, VA – Most of us are spending substantially more time at home these days, and we’re craving a positive diversion that takes us away from our many screens. Growing vegetables is a fun, inexpensive, and family-friendly activity that can provide free, nourishing food in a matter of months. You can plant fast-growing vegetables from seed in your home and even use your kitchen scraps to grow even more fresh produce!
Growing vegetables fast from seed
You can start all of the following plants from seeds indoors using seed-starting trays or pots. After the last frost date, you can transplant them into your outdoor garden or maintain them as indoor plants while you start fresh seeds outside. For guidelines on spacing, watering, and seed depth, simply follow the directions on the seed package.
Arugula leaves are ready to eat after about 30 days. The peppery greens will make a nourishing addition to any salad, stir fry, or pizza. You can cut the leaves you want and let the rest keep growing for an ongoing supply.
Spinach can be harvested six weeks after planting. The nutrition-packed baby leaves have a tender texture and a fresh flavor. It’s best to cut one or two big leaves from each plant and let the remaining leaves keep producing.
Radish is a fast-growing root vegetable that can be re-planted in a new row every two weeks for a continual supply throughout the spring and summer.
Carrots will mature in about two months, but if you plant the seeds close together, you can thin out the baby veggies and start snacking as early as 30 days after seeding.
Beets, bok choy, kale, snap peas, lettuce, mustard greens, and summer squash will also produce an abundant harvest in a relatively short time and are all kid-friendly, simple plants to grow.
Vegetables you can grow from kitchen scraps
Save some money and reduce trips to the grocery store by re-growing your produce! With little more than a jar of water, a spot by a sunny window, and a leftover vegetable stump, you can sprout fresh food from scraps that would usually go in the compost bin.
Green Onions, fennel, leeks and lemongrass will regrow if harvested carefully! Cut off the bottom inch, leaving the roots intact, and stand it upright in 1/2 inch of water.
Celery stumps will also sprout new shoots in water. Place the bottom inch of the stalk, including the remaining top of the root, in ½ inch of water and give the plant some sunlight.
Beet Greens can be fried in butter and garlic to make a nutritious and delicious side. Re-sprout your beet by placing the top inch of a root in 1/2 inch of water.
Potato eyes, the parts that you would usually throw away, can be saved to plant in your garden or house pot. The trick is to cut out two eyes together and keep about 1/2 to 1 inch of the potato around them. Once in the soil, one eye will grow upwards to become the stem, and the other will grow downward to form the roots. Continue to mound soil around the stalk, and when the plant begins to die back, your potatoes will be ready to harvest.
These simple techniques are just a few of the many ways you can grow fresh vegetables in a relatively short amount of time. They can save you money and are an easy way to engage your kids in wholesome fun at home.