For millions of people around the world, the lockdown period has been about learning or mastering a new skill from painting, cooking, baking to designing; everyone has found some activity to keep themselves engaged.
Gardening is one such therapeutic hobby. Jeff Smith, vice president of Sustainability at Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas, shares tips for all those interested in growing their own fresh vegetables and fruits in the comfort of their home.
- Celery: Take the base of a bunch of celery and place it in a small bowl, facing upright. Fill the container with warm water (not submerging the celery – just enough so that the celery remains facing upright). Place the bowl on a sunny windowsill. Change the water every alternate day. You’ll see small leaves appear around the center of the base, which will grow thicker. After about a week, the leaves would have turned dark green and you can move the base to a larger planter pot, cover with potting soil and leave the leaf tips uncovered. Keep the plant watered and you’ll notice a few small stalks appear and then grow upwards over the next few weeks. Harvest when grown and repeat the process.
- Spring onions/scallions: Cut the bottoms off your scallions about an inch from the roots. Place them in a shallow glass of water leaving the tops exposed. Change the water every other day and watch green shoots continue to grow. After a week or so you’ll be able to plant the base in a small pot filled with potting soil. Keep it on a sunny windowsill and keep the soil moist. Cut what you need and leave the roots in the damp soil. It will keep growing back.
- Peppers: Collect the seeds from your habaneros, jalapenos or any other peppers that you have on hand. Plant them in potting soil and keep in a sunny spot. Peppers grow relatively fast and are easy to maintain. Once you get a new crop, save some of the seeds for replanting again.
- Tomatoes: The above method also works for tomatoes. Save some of the seeds, rinse them and allow them to dry. Plant in a pot and cover them with potting soil until you notice growth coming in. Remember to keep them in an area that gets plenty of sunlight and water a few times each week.
In the summer months, insects and bugs can enter your balconies and homes and damage your plants; Smith recommends using aromatic herbs as natural repellants.
- Mint and Basil: These plants are popular fly repellents. You can keep them potted in doorways, windows or any other bug-prone areas. Take a few long stems and strip the leaves from the bottom, leaving the leaves in the top quarter. Place the stems in a jar of water somewhere sunny . Change the water every other day. When you see roots grow to about two inches, you can plant them out in a four- or five-inch pot. You can also harvest a few leaves to add to pasta sauces and salads.
- Lemongrass: This contains citronella oil, which keeps mosquitoes away. Cut the tops off a lemongrass bunch and place the stalks in a jar or tall glass of water. Change the water every day. When the stems develop a good network of roots, plant them out in a large pot and place in a sunny spot. Harvest lemongrass once it reaches about a foot in height, being careful not to uproot the entire plant.