Edible (Apartment) Gardening

It’s sad to say but I only have one little houseplant in my apartment. With a plant-based diet, I often throw out many organic scraps of food (such as seeds and cuttings) so I’ve decided to experiment with edible gardening. I want to see what plants I can regrow from seeds and cuttings of produce I use daily. Not every produce I buy is organic but I’d like to see how seeds/cuttings from conventionally-grown produce will fare. Although I’m hoping to get an edible garden, my main goal is to increase the amount of plants I currently have at home for free. And if those plants can bare me fruits or veggies, then even better but no pressure.

I am not a gardener nor do I know if have a green thumb. My only gardening experience consisted of maintaining a balcony herb box and a tomato plant that eventually died. Regardless of my bleak past with plants, this will be a fresh opportunity to learn more about them in a fun, productive way.

It’s still winter here so February is the time to start seedlings indoors to have them ready for transplantation by Spring. I’ve started collecting and sowing seeds from produce I want based on daily use. Once I figure out which plants to grow, I do some research on it by googling or youtubing “how to grow ____ from seeds of fresh fruit” and go from there. I also have a book called Rodale’s All-New Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening that I bought from Value Village and use it as a reference to know how to care for each plant through various stages.

Growing Seeds from Daily Produce

I started with Roma tomatoes, which I use daily for cooking. After researching how to get tomatoes started from seeds, I followed these instructions with one modification. I squeezed the seeds from a freshly-cut tomato into a small glass bowl with water, left it uncovered and placed it somewhere warm to let it ferment. You can also cover it with film wrap and poke a few holes to facilitate fermentation.

Fresh tomato seeds in water
Tomato seeds enveloped in membrane

Fermentation allows the seed to come out of its jelly-like membrane. Mine took a while to ferment because I placed them on my windowsill first, which is usually cold at this time of the year so I placed them on my water heating tank. After I noticed free seeds (without the red jelly) at the bottom, I rinsed the seeds out with water and placed them on a paper towel to dry.

Tomato seeds freed, rinsed & dried after fermentation

Once dried, I sowed 3 seeds into each prepared starting pellet, closed the container and placed it in a plastic bag tied close to create a proper greenhouse effect. I placed them on top of my water tank heater to provide a constant warm soil temperature. After 5 days, 3 of the 4 pellets germinated and shot up leaves.

Sprouted tomato seedlings

I also tried bell-pepper and jalapeno pepper seeds that were collected from freshly cut peppers, used for cooking. Again, I googled how to grow peppers from seeds. I learned that viable jalapeno pepper seeds must be from a mature, wrinkly pepper, which mine was not but I decided to try it anyway. The seeds were left to air dry for 3-4 days before sowing. I sowed 3 seeds per pellet, closed the container and placed it in a plastic bag that I left on my water-heater tank that’s in a closet. After 10 days, 2 out of 3 pellets of green bell-pepper seeds started germinating but none of the jalapeno seeds germinated.

2 smaller seedlings in the center are bell pepper seedlings

Citrus is a favourite of mine and when I found 2 seeds in a ruby grapefruit that I was eating, I decided to try growing a grapefruit tree from a seed. I opted to try the ziplock and paper-towel method of germination, inspired by this young kid’s video on it. It always makes me happy & hopeful to see young adults and children who enjoy Nature. After two weeks, each seed started sprouting into 2 plants!

Grapefruit seeds germinated in ziploc for 15 days
germinated grapefruit seedlings planted in starting pellet
3 days later grapefruit seedlings are adapting

Growing Plants from Cuttings

I use fresh mint daily but buy it all the time. Once I started with the seeds, it dawned on me to research “how to grow mint from cuttings”. I found out that all I had to do was place a few sprigs in water that’s changed every few days and with due time, roots will grow so I can replant them in soil.

propagating mint roots

I also tried it with Fresh basil sprigs. After watching this video, I followed her instructions and placed the sprigs in water after snipping off a few leaves. It’s been more than two weeks now and little roots have emerged from 2 cuttings, and I’m waiting for them to grow another inch before planting them in soil.

Basil cutting growing roots

 

Other Honourable Mentions

I’m also working on propagating the roots of a pineapple plant from the green top cutting. I’m currently germinating some Hass avocado seeds, Meyers lemon seeds and Habanero chili seeds.

Habanero chili seeds

I’m also looking for some of my favourite tropical fruits such as tomato tree fruit, loquats and mangoes to save their seeds and try growing them. By the end of it, I hope to have a small green (tropical) haven in my apartment.

 

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