How to have greens all year round

Start now and you will be taking leaves within a month.

Materials needed:
1 fixture flourescent lights, 40 Watts, 2 lights is enough.
Timer for the lights
1 to 4 trays (each tray holds 16 bags) Trays will have to be made waterproof by putting a drop of glue in each corner (Goop, Home Depot, Paint Department).
Bags, 16 per tray
Soil
Seeds (Order as many as you need)

Choose a location in front of a southern window preferably. Place a table or a shelf on front of the window, install the lights so they are directly on top of the shelf, and 14" above it. Since we get only 9 hours of sunshine during the winter months, and the plants require at least 14 hours, the light will have to be supplemented, that is where the flourescent lights come in. Set the timer so the lights go on at sundown and off at sunup.
If you can not place the trays on front of a window, you can leave the lights on continously.

Fill the bags with soil and put them in the trays. Water the trays and plant the seeds. You can put one or two seeds in each bag, and label them. Some plants will start growing within 3 days, others will take longer. After the plants start growing water them on a daily basis, not much but keep the bottom of the trays wet. Water between the bags. You can give them some liquid fertilizer every week or so.

What to plant?
You can plant Spinach, Swiss Chard, Kale, . Any of these greens will give you at least 100% more vitamins and minerals than you can get from iceberg or romaine lettuce. You can get these hard to find seeds here

Wait until the leaves are about 3 inches from the lights before taking them. Always take the largest leaves. Once you start taking leaves to eat, you can take leaves almost every day.


My indoor garden

Warning: Be sure there is always air circulation around your indoor garden, otherwise humidity will increase and with it, the danger of damping off. This disease can decimate your crop overnight.

Aphids. The eternal pest. They are almost invisible but are attracted to most greens... come out of nowhere and multiply rapidly. They linger on the stems of the plants, on the underside of the leaves and they always pick the very top of the plants. If you have any, that is where you will find them. The only way to exterminate them safely is with NEEM oil... it works. this is how I use it.
Mix a pint of warm water with 1/2 tsp of Neem oil and 1/4 tsp of Ivory dish detergent. Shake well and spray your plants with the solution. Be sure to do it all the way around to cover every little hole and crany. When done, discard that neem, its half life is only a few hours. Mix this solution every other day for a week or so (the neem does not kill them but it disturbs their life cycle.) By the end of the week you should have no aphids at all. After this, keep an eye on the plants, and spray whenever you see the little buggers, if you don't, spray again once a week.

As the weather turns nice, you can take your trays out and put them on the deck or some place in full sun. Transplant them in much larger containers. At this time you have to be sure to water them every morning. Any and all these plants can be planted outdoors after all danger of frost is over. Allow some of them to grow large and make seeds. Save the seeds and plant again in the Fall so you can have uninterrupted supply of greens.

When grown outside, Malabar Spinach can grow unchecked and will make a jungle in a few days. Plant 2 or 3 plants and you will have your hands full. Give them at least 6 ft. around to spread.

Planting Swiss Chard is better. you can space them about 14 inches but again, don't plant too many. Each leaf can be as large as 18 " long, enough for a full salad, and it is delicious.

Kang Kong will also spread, plant only a couple of plants, Kale is much smaller and very manageable but be careful, groundhogs love those two plants..

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