Sprouting seeds on your windowsill brings life, food to your room

Spinnaker

You don’t have to have a green thumb to grow a few plants, heck, you don’t even need a yard. All you need is a sunny windowsill,
some water and voila! You’re sprouting greens from your ears.

OK, it’s not quite that simple, but it’s pretty darned easy. If you choose the right plants, that is.

“The best plants for college students are probably the cactus and succulents,” said Joanne Rice, who has been working in the horticultural field for over 15 years.

“They are able to store water for long periods of time, in case you leave town or forget to water them,” Rice said.

She also suggests putting a layer of rocks on top, which looks nice and keeps the mess-factor to a minimum.

Aloe Vera plants are succulents which serve as more than just a little greenery. The leaves can be peeled open to reveal a cool, clear gel. The fresh Aloe Vera can be spread on skin to relieve the pain of sunburns.

Jonathan Felts, the volunteer and educational coordinator at the UNF Wildlife Sanctuary and the Co-Director/Horticulturalist for the Beaches Local Food Network, said window gardens are a growing trend.

Felts said students can grow micro greens on a windowsill, sprouts like alfalfa in jars, radishes, onions and broccoli, lettuce in a tray, strawberries and herbs in a hanging basket.

Felts is overseeing the VERB — vegetable and herb — garden in front of the UNF Eco-Center. The garden comprises of six, large raised beds full of plants like peppers, carrots, lettuce, squash, tomatoes and cucumbers and a half dozen fruit trees such as citrus, peach, fig and pomegranate.

He said they also have many strange perennials that most people haven’t heard of like the Sunset Edible Hibiscus and New
Zealand Spinach.

“The goal is to supplement Chartwells,” Felts said.

But that is a long way off. Right now, the produce is being divided between the volunteers working at the garden, with talks
of eventually making the food available for students to purchase at Market Days at the Student Union.

Felts is offering workshops free to UNF students at the Eco-Center about organic gardening, composting, plant propagation, seed sowing and organic fertilizer and pest control. The first class will be at 10 a.m. Aug. 30. He will be teaching plant propagation (the science of growing plants from seeds or cuttings) and will be seeding fall vegetables.

“I’ve had plenty of salads, and I had a honey dew the other day that was pretty tasty,” said Kevin Rodriguez, who works at the Eco-Center and has
helped in the garden.

“It’s super tasty, especially when you put in time, it’s really rewarding.”

For more information about the workshops check out the VERB garden board at Eco-Adventures or e-mail the Eco-Center at [email protected]

Click the image below to learn more about three plants that will grow on a windowsill that gets a minimum of five hours of sunlight:

E-mail Emily Hartford and Ashlee Gannon
[email protected]