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04. April 2019

Harvesting my windowsill vegetables

My secret to getting early windowsill vegetables is choosing the right varieties and sowing early. This is how I do it!

En liten gurka och tomat bredvid varandra i vårsolen.

Freshly harvested cucumber and tomato.

 

I have never been able to start harvesting my windowsill vegetables this early before! I got a little cucumber and a tomato for my kid's breakfast. I hope that the cucumber isn't too bitter!

This year, I'm not growing very much indoors. I had some leafy greens in my kitchen that provided us with lovely sandwich vegetables, but there's really no point now that the polytunnel gives us everything we need. Instead, I decided to go for tomatoes, bell pepper, artichoke, and celery.

I wanted to get an early harvest of sandwich vegetables, so I sowed tomatoes in December and cucumber in January. The tomato variety is called Vilma. It's a tiny tomato that only grows around 16 inches (40 centimeters) tall, and the plant is very bushy.

The cucumber is a hybrid variety called Katrina. It's a very early and fast-growing cucumber. I have been growing some small cucumbers before, for example, Beit Alpha, but Katrina is the earliest one I have grown so far.

 

More about sandwich vegetables: Vegetables for my sandwiches in early spring

 

No extra light for the tomatoes

I sowed the tomatoes like I always do, under some extra light. By February, they had grown too large for the grow lights, so I replanted them in tall plastic pots (the kind that you usually get when you buy berry bushes.) I put the tall plant in the very bottom of the pot and filled the pot with soil from an old hotbed. New roots will start developing from the long stem and the plant will grow nice and sturdy in no time.

 

Tomatplantor nyss omplanterade. Window sill vegetables, tomato plants.

I put the tomato plants deep into the soil and they start developing new roots along the stem.

 

Lovely little flowers started showing up on my plants in February, and I sometimes shake them to speed up the pollination process. I don't know if it's going to make a huge difference though. The pollination is faster later in the season when the plants grow in my beds outside.

I kept the tomatoes in a south facing window, since February. No extra light, only the natural light. If I had been able to fit a grow light, I probably would have. I was able to harvest the first tomato on March 28.

 

Read more about tomatoes: How to grow tomatoes outdoors

 

Närbild på tomatens blomma. Windowsill vegetables, closeup of tomato flower.

I shake the plants to improve the pollination indoors. The cucumbers take care of themselves though. The windowsill vegetables seem to be doing just fine!

 

Expensive seeds

The Katrina cucumber is quite an expensive vegetable. 4-5 seeds cost around 4 dollars. But you can, of course, buy your cucumbers in the supermarket too, and compared to that, it will definitely be worth it.

I sowed the seeds indoors, on a heat mat in January. Cucumber seeds can be a bit sensitive to cold temperatures and they need warm soil to germinate. I kept them under a grow light until February when I replanted them. They have been standing on my porch ever since. Without any additional light.

 

Pests

Growing cucumber indoors is difficult. The plants are sensitive to infestations and it doesn't take long for the plant to look really miserable. It's so difficult to get rid of pests inside. I don't really feel like putting out little predators for them in my bedroom for example. I usually just leave the plant to it and just hope for the best (and an early harvest.) I sow new seeds later and throw away the old plants when I'm done with them.

The first thing to do is to water and fertilize the cucumber (the same goes for the tomatoes too of course) and then I remove the side shoots. So, I only keep one vine so that it can spend its energy on developing the little cucumbers instead of wasting it all on new leaves. When you want to prune your cucumber, use the same method as you do for melons and pumpkins. I keep all of the little cucumbers on the main stem.

 

Homegrown sandwich vegetables

My windowsill vegetables are growing nicely! In the end, I got six tomato plants and two little cucumber plants. We will have them on sandwiches as soon as they are ready. We use them, fresh homegrown spinach, lettuce, pea shoots, and ramson. So, we actually don't need to buy any sandwich vegetables at all. It feels amazing! All I can do now is to keep watering and fertilizing my windowsill vegetables. And of course, keep any kids with scissors away. One of my kids cut all of my cucumber plants one year in April/May when the little cucumbers were just about ready. Very frustrating, but this time will be different!
/Sara Bäckmo

 

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