Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Winter Gardening- the Tin Can Garden

For those of us who don't live in temperate zones that are nice and warm year round, this sounds like an impossibility.   However, you can garden inside.

A few weeks before Christmas, I started a Tin Can Garden for my nephew.  He's got his own house now, and his mom is an avid gardener in the summer; I thought he and his girl would appreciate a small window garden.  One day, I made a huge pot of chili, opening many cans of tomato sauce and kidney beans.  I saved all of those cans and washed them out, and they became the start of my garden.

I planted peas, tomatoes, green onions, chives, mint, basil and another herb I've forgotten!   I'd read somewhere many years ago that Ott lights were the same as full spectrum bulbs, so I set up one of my ott lights on the kitchen counter with the cans gathered under it.  Then we hit a cold spell and I was worried that it was not warm enough.  So I set up a second lamp, a standard clip on shop lamp with  a 60 watt incandescent light bulb, and that created a zone of warmth.

Amazingly, some of the seeds sprouted in half the time they normally would when planted outside!  All of the sudden, there were pea plants. Then tomatoes. Then the onions.  The herbs has still not sprouted by the time I gave them as a gift.  To make the cans fancier, I wrapped the outside in fabric, with ironed on labels identifying the seeds.

So many seeds sprouted that I saved some more cans and transplanted some of the peas and tomatoes, and as you can see from the pictures, they are going strong.  Soon I will have to set up a different place n the house for the peas, so they can start to climb.  I've been saving cans to sprout some more plants, so by early spring, we could well have vegetables already in hand, with a second round to start in the spring, giving us vegetables spring, summer and fall - and keep it going next winter.

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