Edible garden: Here’s how to grow herbs and vegetables in small spaces

Are you worried about pesticides and additives in your store-bought vegetables and herbs? Why not create your own edible garden on your balcony or in your backyard? Here are some tips from our nutritionist

One of the things that I really struggled with during the first lockdown, was not having access to enough vegetables. I have the luxury of living away from the city, but much of the produce that is available here is fruit!

Over the three months that we were in lockdown, I got really frustrated that I had not grown vegetables and herbs as they would have spiced up our meals during those times! I was fed up of the limited range of vegetables from our local village market. Soon, my husband began creating little vegetable patches in our garden and since then, we’ve had plenty to go around.

Grow an edible garden

A small balcony is enough for a vegetable garden (Pic: Shutterstock)

You don’t have to have huge patches of land to create great produce! The first myth that you have to break is that you need large tracts of land to get great herbs and vegetables for your kitchen. You don’t need that.

You can grow what you need, in your own balcony. In fact, when it comes to leafy greens and herbs, it is not advisable to plant too much. We did that once, and most of them got dry or were eaten by birds.

You might not have the problem with birds and squirrels eating them, if you are growing what you need in your own balcony. If you plan carefully, you can grow batches and keep using them and growing more as they get used up.

Herbs and greens

Fresh herbs and vegetables from your garden make your food more delicious (Pic: Shutterstock)

Think of everyday herbs and greens, which are easy to grow, and do not require huge amounts of effort. You also need to think about what you can grow without needing to buy seeds. That is how you can keep growing them constantly.

Find a spot in your house where you can set up planters. Fill these planters or pots with soil and manure if you have some.

Fresh coriander can be grown in pots (Pic: Shutterstock)

Coriander and methi are the simplest greens that you can grow perennially. Did you know that these two greens can be highly contaminated from local sources? Given that you might use coriander leaves raw, it is imperative that you have clean sources.

Nothing tastes as fresh and wonderful as coriander and methi grown at home. Sprinkle some of the planters with coriander seeds, and methi seeds. They do not require much effort. Simply water them just right, and you will have fresh leaves to use every single day!

If you buy the seeds you can grow a variety of herbs (Pic: Shutterstock)

If you would like to have herbs to make pesto or use in baking, you will need seeds. They are not too difficult to grow, but if you do not have access to them, skip these. If you buy these seeds online, you can easily grow basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano and sage. The flavour of freshly made pesto from basil is miles apart from store bought ones. Most herbs are medicinal as well, so it’s well worth it to get the seeds. Oregano has antimicrobial properties and are very useful if you are prone to infections.
  • Local leafy greens are easy to grow, and most local village markets will sell the seeds. You can choose from a wide range of them and use them fresh. Remember that most leafy greens and herbs have high contamination from pesticides and are also grown near stagnant water filled with contaminated water. The best way to get past all of this, is to grow them yourself. We also grow kale easily. Kale is associated with global sources contributing to environmental damage. Yet, it is a medium oxalate green so it can be helpful to some people. Kale grows very easily, and we trim a few leaves fresh every day to shred into salad.

What vegetables can you grow easily?

Root vegetables are easiest to grow (Pic: Shutterstock)

  • Simple root vegetables are the easiest to grow. You will need to buy seeds, but they are easily available at your local market or online. They can also grow in a large planter, if you do not have land.
Choose from carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, tapioca and radish. They do not require great care, and some of the leaves on them are filled with nutrients as well. Beet leaves and carrot leaves can be cooked like any leafy greens. You can only do this if you grow them yourself. Most of these vegetables will not come with the tops on them in stores.

Tomatoes can be grown in large planters (Pic: Shutterstock)

Tomatoes and lady's finger are also very easy to grow, but you might need more space than just planters on a balcony. Freshly grown bhindi melts in your mouth! You will simply relish them in ways that you have never ever enjoyed them before. In fact, the joy of growing your own vegetables contributes greatly to how much you enjoy them!
  • Cabbage is something which you really should grow yourself, given that they are one of the highest in pesticides. In fact, most of the people I know who are conscious of this, have not eaten cabbage for years on end! But cabbage contains sulforaphane which supports liver detoxification. They grow very easily, and you can ensure that they are free of harmful pesticides.
If you have land, then you can create spaces with bamboo to grow local vegetables on vines. These include string beans, ridge gourd, bottle gourd and yard long beans. Most of these vegetables are easy to digest and are great with any meal!

What are you waiting for? If you have a balcony, get started on simple herbs and leafy greens right away. If you have more space, begin with easy-to-grow local vegetables, and you will thank yourself after every meal whenever you use them!

(All representational images credit: Shutterstock)

Edited by Asha Chowdary

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)


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