Altai State University botanists advise on how to provide yourself with vitamins when staying at home

21 April 2020 Department of Information and Media Communications
The glazed balcony for summer residents is a great place to grow seedlings by the beginning of the garden season. Many of them already have green tomato and pepper seedlings, and much more. How to improve the quality of seedlings? And what else can you grow at home in conditions of self-isolation?

The correspondents of the newspaper "For Science" working remotely asked these questions Tatyana A. Terekhina, Professor of Botany at the Institute of Biology and Biotechnology of Altai State University.

“In addition to the conventional plants, I sow leeks for the second year. Seedlings are still very small, but by the time of planting they will have time to grow. Leeks are predominantly used for making salads, but they are also good for other dishes. They are well stored in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator ” says the professor.

Tatyana says that it’s not too late to plant any heat-loving crops.

- For example, cucumbers. Despite the warm weather outside, in our region there are often recurrent cold weather when the heat is suddenly change to cold. As for conventional  varieties, they can be sown right now. By the time of planting in the soil, seedlings will be ready. To do this, you will need soil, seeds and a container. Further, it all depends on where the cucumbers will grow - in the greenhouse, under the film or outdoors.

- You can prepare watermelons for the summer season. There was a time when I grew this crop a lot. I can give practical advice: in order for the seeds to sprout well and quickly, you need to gently rub them with sandpaper or with an ordinary grater. So we damage the shell a bit. After the simple procedure, you need to wrap the seeds in a piece of damp cloth and put them in a warm place. Such seeds “shoot” quickly - they germinate at such a speed (2-3 days) that sometimes you just don’t have time to follow them.

- You can still sow cabbage. Many people grow it first at home, and then plant it in the ground. But, following the example of a neighbor of mine,I sow cabbage in early May immediately into the ground under glass or film. If you water it enough, then it grows very quickly.

If you like flowers, then it's time to sow annuals: asters, marigolds, violets, snapdragons. And it’s time to get out the bulbs of perennials (for example, gladioli) to let them get warm in the sun.

Is it necessary to fatten the soil with anything?

“Most often, no additional fertilizers are needed. The main thing is to water regularly. Often plants stretch very much toward the sun. In this case we need to trim the seedlings. It is better to fertilize the soil after planting seedlings in a greenhouse or outdoors. You can use either organic or a complex fertilizers: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. But while there is a lot of sun, fertilizing is not necessary. On the contrary, I would work against” recommends Tatiana Terekhina.

On the Internet you can find a lot of information about various options for greens and vegetables, growing year-round on the windowsill or balcony. Here is what the Professor of the Department of Botany advises to plant:

“Of course, not everyone has a  garden. In conditions of self-isolation, cultivating crops on the windowsill or on the glazed balcony can brighten our privacy. But you need to understand that you have a limited amount of soil. This is not suitable for all plants. What can we grow? For example, various greens: dill, cilantro, lettuce, and mint. It is interesting to watch them, and with such a bright sun they will grow very quickly. Moreover,  lettuce is not only green, it can also be of a purple or red color. It looks so beautiful”.

Tatyana also recommends varieties of so-called "balcony" vegetables. In particular, beautiful small cherry tomatoes. For them, you need a pot of five liters. One or two plants will be enough.

“Pelargonium, or geranium, is a very unpretentious plant. It is responsive to sunlight, so it immediately begins to bloom, and it pleases the eye. It is also a phytoncide. It is recommended for indoor spaces which is good in the conditions of self-isolation. You can grow balsam (it blooms very beautifully), nasturtium, pygmy snapdragons. Planting boxes will be enough for growing them on balconies. I would also recommend marigolds. These phytoncides  begin to bloom quite quickly and it is interesting to watch them”.

“They say that you can even grow carrots, but this is ridiculous. Such a plant has a taproot system; it requires a lot of soil. Zucchini and cucumbers also do not grow very well in the limited conditions of the balcony” says the Altai State University botanist.

And the final recommendation. If you decide to cultivate plants on the balcony, first evaluate the conditions that should be comfortable. If there is a lot of light, then it will be necessary to cover or shade the windows with something, so that the plants do not burn. Besides, plants do not like draughts. Like us, they can also catch a cold, in this case brown necrotic spots appear on the plants.

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