Indoor Kitchen Gardening (Cool Springs Press, 2014) by Minnesotan Elizabeth Millard has the right attitude. In the book’s introduction, Millard co-owner of Bossy Acres, a vegetable farm now operating in Bruno, MN., says that growing food indoors is “about creating a sense of play and nourishment.” She promises that the book will deliver “easy growing practices so indoor kitchen gardening feels more like a fun journey than a daunting task.”
Brightened by illustrative and pretty photographs throughout, the books covers the basics of growing everything from microgreens to mushrooms indoors — even in Minnesota winters. As a professional farmer, Millard pays attention to the basics that are often the keys to success: finding the right spaces and containers for growing food indoors, light sources, soil mixes, providing adequate air circulation, drainage and the inevitable problems, from mold and diseases to herb-eating cats.
Once the basics are covered, Millard launches into crop-by-crop discussions of what to grow, starting with those most likely to thrive indoors, such as microgreens, peashoots and herbs. Each section offers details about what varieties to plant, how to get them started and what kinds of problems might occur. She also offers harvest, storage and cooking suggestions.
For adventurous indoor gardeners, Millard offers instruction on growing wheatgrass (including a recipe for a wheatgrass shot), sprouts and mushrooms, as well as lettuces, radishes, greens and even potatoes and tomatoes. The instructions are complete, clearly written and often fun to read. For example, after describing how to pasteurize straw by boiling it in water for 45 minutes to sprout mushrooms, she remarks, “You can also buy pasteurized straw, but where’s the fun in that? This way, your kitchen can smell ‘farmy’ for at least a day or two.”
Well-written, cleanly illustrated and full of personality, Indoor Kitchen Gardening is a great choice for gardeners who want to grow more inside or who just want to learn about it. This is good reading for a cold winter night.
—Mary Lahr Schier