Growing Onions Greens In An Apartment Window
We here at Green Wizards talk a lot about gardening and learning to grow your own food. Its such a basic skill that no matter what style of Green Wizard your are, you should have a familiarity with it. You may not have a green thumb, but you should at least have a little bit of dirt under your fingernails.
It can be hard though, to experiment with gardening if you are like so many today, a renter. Income inequality, economic disruption, employment insecurity and other factors of the collapse of our society into the Long Descent make owning your own home or owning a home with enough land to garden difficult. Community gardening and share crop farming, gardening on someone else's property, can help you gain access to space to grow but there isn't anything like having a garden you can call your own.
Luckily the Internet and Youtube has a universe of examples of ways to grow food without land. Here is one great, low cost and easy way to do just that.
Onions have been a staple of human diet for thousands of years. I've read where Roman legionnaire were sometimes paid in onions. The bulbs store well, can be eaten raw and can be cooked in many ways. What is better, is onions are easy to grow and come in a huge variety which will grow in different climates and conditions. Not just the bulbs but the leaves. Fast growing and tasty, onion greens are the staple of many dishes, from salads to stir fries to soups and more.
This Youtube video from the "Home & Garden" channel and has this "Three ways to grow onions". Let's look at the first way which I find great for a small apartment or kitchen. You can check out the other two for one way to grow fewer greens using toilet paper tubes and one growing more greens in a plastic tote.
A big plus to this first way is it uses a recycled water bottle or other container that is similar. You'll need a electric soldiering iron for this too. And some onions, the type called an "onion set" which are starter onions you can pick up at a garden store. They are about an inch or so in diameter, and sold by weight, 1 pound is typical for a couple of dollars. Remember we're growing the onion greens not the onions themselves.
So to get started, take a pair of scissors and cut the top off the bottle. Then taking the soldering iron, first melt a couple of drain holes in the bottom of the bottle. Drainage is important in very small containers like this.
Next melt a small hole in the side, about 2 inches up. This hole should be about 2/3rds the size of the onion. You don't want it falling out through the hole when you are moving the bottle. Melt 3-4 more holes at equal spacing around the bottle, depending on how big your onions are then fill it with soil up to the holes. Melt a similar number of holes further up the bottle and spaced between the first set as seen in the photo.
Continue up the bottle with holes and soil until you reach the top. Then plant a few onions on the top.
The people at Home Garden push a wooden stick or old chopstick down the center to help water flow to the lower section. Now carefully water the container, seeing to not get it flooded and push wet soil out of the holes.
Once done, put the bottle in a sunny window. Water occasionally, keeping the soil moist but not soaked.
Pretty quickly you should see the beginning of leaves and roots growing. Over the course of 2-3 weeks you will get a tall crop of onion greens. Depending on how many onions you used, or how many greens you have, you can chose to cut and harvest all or just a portion.
Clip them an inch or so from the bulb, leaving a small portion of the leaf. They should continue to grow and give you a further crop in a couple of more weeks. Should be able to get 2-3 harvests before the onion uses all the stored material of the bulb.
Small container gardening like this is a good way to produce some additional food to liven up your diet. When times start getting rougher, many of us will be forced to go back to the diet our great grand parents' generation had. Heavy in simple foods like beans and potatoes, light in sugars and meat.
I'll experiment further this Summer with small scale gardening and report back.