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Grow Your Own Food at Home the Stone Barns Way

Fresh lettuce, mustard greens, and tomatoes will be popping up on your windowsill in no time

The coronavirus pandemic has turned plenty of urban dwellers into homesteaders: Stuck at home for months on end, growing vegetables on your windowsill emerged as a micro-trend early on in the pandemic, right along with bread baking and virtual Zoom game nights.

But there are so many more things one can grow at home besides scallions. Over at the Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture, just north of New York City, Stone Barns and Blue Hill responded to the catastrophe wreaked on small farmers and restaurants by COVID-19 by shining a light on America’s broken food system and reconnecting folks to farming. Stone Barns’ Kitchen Farming Project is taking young chefs and having them plan, plant and harvest their own gardens, while broadcasting that experience to encourage others to do the same at home.

To share the Kitchen Farming Project, Stone Barns crops director Jason Grauer joined Eater at Home to demo on Instagram how to grow your own salad mix and vegetables in a container garden.

What you’ll need:

Four 5-inch tomato plants
One 12-pack of lettuce seedlings
One 6-pack of mustard seedlings
One 12-pack herb mix of basil and nasturtium seedlings
Three seed packets (cilantro, carrot, radish)
Two 20-gallon containers (large)
One 7-gallon container (medium)*
One 5-gallon container (small)*
Four tomato stakes
50-60 gallons of potting mix

* Stone Barns recommends Root Pouches, which are eco-friendly, durable, and reusable.

How to plant:

1. Select a sunny, protected spot to place the containers.

2. Gently water your seedlings and your potting soil so that the transplants form a seamless connection once they are moved to the containers.

3. For the large containers:

- Transplant two cherry tomato seedlings into one large container, and the two slicer variety tomatoes in the second. The tomatoes can be planted towards the center with about 8 inches between them. Dig a hole deep enough to bury the entire root ball, and don’t worry about burying the stem a bit.

- Place stakes just outside of each tomato plant and send them down into the soil towards the bottom of the container; these will be used later, for support when the tomatoes grow too tall to stay upright.

- Nasturtiums, which are edible flowers, can be planted in the opposite “corners” of the large pots with the tomatoes to form a diamond. They will cascade away and provide shade and pest protection for the pot along with delicious peppery sweet flowers for your salad.

4. For the medium container: Evenly space your lettuce and mustard seedlings around the pot, in a hole deep enough to cover the root ball but not the stems.

5. For the small container: Evenly space your basil seedlings around the pot, in holes deep enough to cover the root ball but not the stems.

6. Check that your pots and plants are moist, and water again if necessary.

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