As winter approaches, we picture markets flooded with fresh vegetables. So, in part 2 of this blog story, we would like to give you ideas on some seasonal veggies.
Speaking of vegetables, winter is a great season for you to set up a vegetable garden in your home. In this age of chemically-tampered vegetables, growing your own food is healthy and environment friendly. Growing winter vegetables in your home does not require much so it is quite easy even for an amateur gardener to start a vegetable patch.
Take a quick trip to the nursery and you can find a few tomato saplings to bring home. You need nutrient-rich soil that drains well. You may also need a good deep planter or a grow bag. Pick a spot that gets good sunlight throughout the day, as tomato plants need about 8 hours of sunlight daily. Simply plant the sapling in the soil, about 6 inches deep and water as needed. As tomato plants give tomatoes during the winter months, you need to start planting as soon as the heavy rains of monsoon season are over. You may see small yellow flowers appear. It would be ideal to pinch off the first batch of flowers for the plant to grow better and bigger. Once you see tomatoes appear, keep a check every day for pests, insects or bees. Once the tomatoes are nicely red and ripe, you can harvest them. You can use some of those tomatoes to extract seeds to grow another sapling.
There is a reason why green peas appear so fresh during winter. It is very easy to grow green peas at home, provided you have a trellis or something similar for the green pea vine to climb on. Buy some green peas and pull out the mature peas. Prepare a planter of soil mixed with coco peat and fertiliser. If you can get your hands on some natural manure, it would be ideal. Place the peas directly into the soil, pushing them about 8 inches in. The soil should be a well-draining one and the pot should be placed where the plant will get moderate sun. As peas require just some amount of sunlight, too much sun can burn the plant as they are very fragile. Therefore, the placement has to be such that the plant gets good sun during the morning but is in shade during afternoons. Planting and harvesting take about three months, so it is ideal to plant the seed sometime in September or October to get good produce by December.
Most leafy vegetables tend to lose their nutrients if they are not consumed immediately after they are plucked. That is why store-bought leafy vegetables are actually no good most of the time. Spinach is one nutritious vegetable that is not just easy to grow at home, but also very simple. Just buy the seeds and sow them. Water consistently and you can easily cut crisp fresh spinach leaves during winter. With moderate sunlight and medium to shallow planters, spinach is a great addition to your vegetable kitchen garden.
A flavourful vegetable that can be consumed raw or cooked in a variety of dishes – Indian, Chinese or Continental, capsicum, is one of the most versatile vegetables. It also does not take a lot of effort and one plant produces a good number of capsicums. Buy a few capsicums from the market and cut out the pieces. Sow the seeds deep in potting soil mixed with natural fertiliser and coco peat. Capsicum needs moderate sunlight and water it when needed. If the seeds are sown in September-October months, you will be able to harvest about half a kilo of good fresh capsicum by end of December. You can also buy the coloured variety of capsicum in red, yellow and orange and sow the seeds similarly.
A relatively new concept in India, microgreens are for those people who are partial of salads or are into Ayurvedic style of cooking. Microgreen basically means cutting off the plant just one month after germination. The sapling could be eaten raw or be used in salad or sprinkled over curries for flavour. Microgreens need to be eaten fresh, so it is advised to grow them at home. They are very easy to grow. You can buy seeds like lettuce, spinach, fenugreek, radish, coriander, beetroot etc and sow them in shallow containers filled with potting soil mixed with coco peat. Sprinkle water over them as needed and place them where there is moderate to low sunlight. You will see tiny saplings germinate within a month. Use scissors to cut them off, wash them and use them as required. Herbs like basil, mint, coriander, oregano etc. can be easily grown during winter and provide a great texture and flavour to your everyday meal.
As winter sets in, make sure your food is freshly plucked from your own kitchen garden. Trust me, along with great taste, you will feel an amazing sense of accomplishment.