Unless you’ve been living under a nice, green, mossy rock, odds are you’ve seen an increase in advertisements for locally grown food. Eating locally reduces the environmental impact in several ways, most obviously in the form of decreased transportation, which makes it a particularly appealing movement for those of us here at the Green Observer. Some people have completely embraced becoming locavores (as the movement is called) by starting to grow their own food. Sadly, as most of our readership lives dorms and apartments, many readers do not have access to spacious, sunny gardens in which they can begin the gardening process. But fear not! Here are some tips even for you dorm-dwellers to start the transition.
I’d like to begin with a tip for people lacking in both space and sunlight; start a terrarium! A terrarium can broadly be thought of as a partially enclosed glass container. The partial enclosure helps increase heat and humidity in the environment and allows plants to grow in less sunlight, which could be vital if your abode is lacking in windows. However, the composition of a terrarium is a little more complex than simply potting soil and seeds. For ideal plant growth, the bottom of the terrarium should be a layer of pebbles topped with an activated charcoal filter and moss and then finally topped with soil. Some plants that work well in terrariums without direct sunlight include small varieties of tomato plants, mint, thyme, sage and oregano.
Now, if you happen to live somewhere with windows that allow for plenty of natural sunlight, then the world is your oyster! That being said, some options are better than others as even a very sunny room might not offer enough daylight during the winters months. Generally, leafy vegetables grow in less sunlight than fruit. Many indoor gardeners find success in growing carrots, beets, spinach, lettuce and herbs. These plants can survive in dim lighting and small spaces indoors during the winter. However, if you have a bit of cash to invest, grow lights can greatly increase the odds of your plants’ success. Lastly, if you’re a UIUC student , try to squeeze vegetable gardening (HORT 105) into your schedule to learn more about vegetable plants and how to grow them!