After my successes in January (changing my body and hand soaps from liquid to bars) and …half success in February (getting soap nuts and cutting out packaged foods), I decided it was time to work on other skills while also being green. So in March, I started a little garden on my balcony. “How does this reduce plastic in your home, though?” I can hear you ask. Well, let me tell you:
In all of the Asian countries I have been in, the majority of fresh vegetables and fruit are all wrapped in plastic. Nearly every single item in the supermarket produce section is wrapped in plastic. Even things with peels that you don’t eat have plastic! Before March, I had been choosing produce that didn’t come in plastic, but the options were quite limited (usually only single eggplant, carrots, or onions). Additionally, all types of fresh herbs were all in hard plastic shells. I could find ways to reuse them, true, but when I left Japan, there would still be plastic waste.
To combat this, I planted (in my apartment as Sendai is much too cold in March for outdoor plants) lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, eggplant, green onions, and basil. I got some planters and potting soil second hand from friends that were planning on leaving Japan. A few of the seed packets I found came with planters and soil (unfortunately plastic, but I gave them away after I finished with them). I was also really lucky because one of my friends also had a balcony garden and shared some mint plants with me in exchange for some of my green onions (which I had inexpertly planted too close together so they were not growing as they well as they could have)
In March, I also started tested my ‘kitchen green thumb.’ After a bit of research online, I found a list of vegetables that can be regrown after cutting off the edible parts. From this list, I ate and re-grew green onions, leeks, carrots, and ginger. This had the additional bonus (after reducing plastic) of lowering my monthly food bill as well.
To be honest, setting up a balcony garden took quite a bit of work. I learned a few months after setting it up that I am not particularly good at growing things. I did not harvest a single cucumber or eggplant (though my cooling bill was lower than usual because I built the climbing net to block most of the midday sunlight. an unforeseen bonus!). I was able to harvest a lot of basil throughout the whole summer, lettuce, green onions, mint, and tomatoes. I don’t actually like tomatoes, but I traded them for vegetables from a friend.
Even though my first balcony garden wasn’t very successful, I really enjoyed having it. I learned so much and every morning before work, it made me happy to go out there and see all the new growth and flowers. This summer in Korea, I will plant my garden to grow completely indoors, and I am sure I will enjoy it just as much.
Do you have any tips to making an indoor garden more successful? Can you recommend any edible plants that are good for beginners?? Comment below to share!