Working people often eat on the run and don’t have many handy food options available. One of the biggest global trends in the food-growing world is office gardens. Some companies even have garden clubs (sponsored by work) so office staff can enjoy looking at some green goodness from the comfort of indoors.
A number of crops are willing to grow and thrive indoors, and will happily last the weekend without attention. To start your office garden, find a well-lit area. It doesn’t need to be in full sun. However, a spot where it isn’t too dark is best. Ideally, this shouldn’t be directly in front of the air-conditioning unit as direct air blowing on the seedlings dries them out fast.
For a real conversation starter, it’s a good idea to take your indoor crops for a walk outside. This may raise some eyebrows, but UV light stimulates plants, as does CO₂. Imagine sitting outside your workplace on a sunny day with your office parsley, coriander and rocket in tow. Anything for a giggle, I say!
Even its name suggests it’s quick to grow. With its sweet, peppery, tangy taste, rocket is a ripper when added to sandwiches, omelettes, smoothies and (dare I say it) instant noodles!
The best way to approach growing rocket at work is to find a plastic take-away coffee container, pierce some drainage holes in the bottom of it and fill it with vegetable mix.
Sprinkle rocket seeds on top and water in lightly. The seeds won’t need water every day; only when the soil feels dry. Within 14 days, the seedlings should be appearing. Harvest when they are young, or leave them to mature to finger size.
Try to have a few batches on the go so you never run out.
These couldn’t be easier to grow and many take just 10 days to mature. Try sprouting alfalfa, mung bean and brown lentils.
Not quite as quick to grow as bean sprouts and alfalfa, pea shoots are nevertheless ready to eat within two to three weeks of planting.
Sow as for rocket and parsley, but don’t cram too many of these large seeds into a small container. Allowing a finger space between each seed is about right. Pea shoots are a treat in wraps and sammies, and they add another dimension to salads and slaw.
From the plainest of egg sammies through to Asian broths, salads and soups, parsley brings any dish to life. It is easy to grow as a microgreen, but is just as tasty snipped, as required, from a single, mature stem.
Grow it as a microgreen in the same way you would rocket, taking care never to let the soil dry out. If the soil does dry out, the plant will bolt and put all its energy into forming seed. When buying parsley seed, choose from Italian (as below) or curly, or why not grow both!
Lettuce is a hardy, super-easy-to-grow vegetable. If you’re looking for office salad greens, sow the frilly, open or cos (Romaine) lettuces as the hearting varieties are fussier and require greater attention. Sow as you would for rocket.
With a taste of Asia, coriander is a wonderful crop best suited to offices where the temperature does not exceed 20°C. If you let this spicy wee number dry out or get too wet, it will either turn up its toes and wilt, or bolt and go to seed. If you have a workplace that has an outdoor area, it is best planted there. Coriander will cope with shade, but not extreme heat.
The seed germinates readily so don’t sow too many at once as over-crowding can cause them to damp off. Be patient as coriander takes its time to germinate.