Think you need a garden to get on board with the homegrown movement? Think again. Tame Bangkok’s urban jungle from the comfort of your own condo with this green-thumbed guide.
Why: To treat sunburn. Aloe can also lower blood pressure and even encourage hair growth. Who needs hair plugs anyway?
How: It requires a lot of sun, but very little water or care. Water it once a week and forget about it. If it wilts, it either needs more sun or you have a total black thumb.
Why: Packed with fiber, potassium and vitamins A and K.
How: Only baby carrots will grow indoors. The trick is getting a box with deep soil—at least a foot-and-a-half down. Carrots also require plenty of light and moist soil. Seeds sprout in about two weeks; as the greens grow, brush aside the soil to see the top of the carrot. When the top is fingertip-sized, pull it out, as overgrown carrots can be bland.
Why: To feed your addiction.
How: Sow the seeds in compost in a planting tray; water and cover in clingfilm to create a mini greenhouse. Keep somewhere warm to germinate (light is not important) and keep the compost moist. When they begin to sprout, transfer them to direct sunlight. Once small sets of leaves appear, transplant them to larger, deeper pots.
Why: A flavorful garnish for soups and salads, plus the green chutes look great on windowsills.
How: Fill a six-inch pot with pre-moistened soil, scatter the seeds on top and then cover with a thin layer of soil. Place in a sunny spot, rotating daily to ensure the plant gets an even spread. Water whenever the soil is dry to the touch.
Why: So you can perfect your guac recipe and show all those Mexican restaurants who’s boss.
How: Plant your seeds three inches apart in a mix of soil and sand to facilitate water flow. Thorough watering is more important than frequent watering, so be sure to water until it seeps out the drainage holes. But only water when the soil is dry to the touch. Keep it in a sunny spot.
Why: The king of fruits will make you a killing when Chinese tourists come to town, and it can also repel nosy neighbors.
How: Are you serious?
Why: To fend off vampires and mosquitoes.
How: Take a regular clove, husk and all, and plant it flat end down around two inches deep, in an eight inch deep pot. To grow garlic greens, you can plant cloves close together, whereas to cultivate bulbs, you’ll need to place them four inches apart. Find someplace with at least six hours of sunlight per day, and keep the soil slightly moist.
Why: It’s a superfood that calms nausea, reduces inflammation and can be dried, juiced and made into tea. Wannabe home bartenders can also infuse simple syrups and vodka with it.
How: Soak a fresh ginger root in warm water overnight. Ginger grows horizontally, so you’ll need to plant it in a wide, shallow pot. Keep it in a warm place away from direct light. The challenge is keeping the soil moist, but not waterlogged. As it grows, you can literally cut chunks off and replant it again.
Why: For pad kaprao.
How: Place seeds in a pot and cover then with a quarter inch of soil. Position the pot somewhere with partial morning sunlight and keep the soil moist by spraying. Once you have two or three sets of leaves, carefully uproot them and replant them in separate pots.
Lemons and Limes
Why: Have you checked the price of lemons lately?
How: It’s easiest to purchase a tree that’s a few years old, then give it a deep water once a week. Place the pot in an area with plenty of light and room to grow—you can expect the tree to reach three-to-five feet. When the fruit softens to the touch, it’s ready to pick.
Why: Mint soothes hangovers. Or so we’re told.
How: In a deep wide pot, mint will grow like wildflowers. It requires plenty of indirect sunlight and moist soil, so water it just a little, but often. Mint can even be grown in a water-filled bottle—just take a five-inch cutting from a mint plant, place in water and set it in a sunny window.
Why: For fiber and vitamin C, or as a replacement pick-me-up for your morning coffee.
How: Purchase a dwarf tree, keep it situated in healthy sun and rotate it. As it grows, it will need to be repotted. Let the soil dry between waterings and pluck the fruit as soon as it turns orange.
Why: For a splash of color. Also, Thai tomatoes are mostly terrible.
How: Tomatoes require large pots, moist soil, a lot of sun (eight-10 hours/day) and regular rotation with light on every side. As they grow, they may become top-heavy and need to be staked. Tap or shake the plant lightly when it flowers to germinate the fruit. Tomatoes grown indoors are smaller, but no less delicious. Fertilizer also helps.
Other condo-friendly plants:
Turmeric, galangal, lettuce, butterfly pea, cucumbers, pumpkin, cantaloupe (rock melon), pineapple, dragon fruit and mushrooms.