Hello there, world! We’re in the middle of summer (a mostly cool and rainy summer here in Portland, but we’ll take what we can get). It’s a season where we’re lucky to enjoy bountiful fresh produce at farmer’s markets, grocery stores, and even from our own backyards. Most of the year, a lot of the fruits and vegetables we buy at the store are picked when they’re green, shipped hundreds of miles, and end up mealy and bland by the time they end up on our plates. But then summer comes, and that first fresh tomato slice or juicy bite of strawberry is a revelation! In my opinion, summer’s fresh produce taste even better when you’ve grown it yourself, because you know how much hard work went into sprouting each seed, nurturing the baby plants and harvesting your rewards. Why would anyone want a store bought tomato when they could have one plucked ripe from the vine?
Of course, apartment living can really put a damper on one’s dreams of cultivating rows of heirloom veggie. So up until this summer, our gardening has been limited to a couple tomato and pepper plants on a balcony, where they’ve survived, but haven’t exactly thrived. Then a couple weeks ago, we moved into an apartment that has an actual backyard. Anticipating the move, I started dozens of seeds a couple months back – heirloom tomatoes, peppers, a miniature melon! – which are now growing happily in raised beds the previous tenant left behind. Our seedlings went into the ground late, but I’m hoping for a long season that will yield at least a little backyard produce.
Since I was on a gardening kick, and watching tomato plants grow in 60 degree weather is about as entertaining as watching paint dry, I decided to try my hand at an indoor gardening project with a super fast turnaround time. Added bonus: unlike our outside gardening ventures, this was one our cat, Bisou, would enjoy as much as I would. And so I picked up a packet of cat grass seeds, aka oats, filled a shallow pot with all purpose soil, and got planting! I made sure to use an organic potting soil (since Bisou would be eating the grass), and one without any manure (because…well, I don’t want manure in the apartment). I distributed the seeds, laying them sideways on the surface of the soil, and close enough that they were almost touching each other. Putting them this close together ensures a uniform, dense patch of kitty grass. I sprinkled a shallow layer of soil over the seeds to just cover them, spritzed everything with water, then set on the kitchen counter in bright, indirect light.
By the morning of the third day, several tiny, pale blades of grass had emerged from the soil. By the end of the day, several more had surfaced, and some were nearing an inch tall. By the fifth day, the cat grass was a deeper green and about two inches tall. After a week, I had a healthy patch of springy, tasty looking cat grass seedlings, ready for Bisou to nibble! Now Bisou has a tasty treat to enjoy that will aid her digestion and provide a change of pace from her usual snacks. Yum!
If you’re itching to grow something green and don’t have much space, cat grass is a great choice. Plus, the materials are inexpensive, it grows in less than a week, and it’s pretty much foolproof, whether you have a green thumb or not. If your cat tends to nibble on your houseplants, you just might be able to divert her attention away from them by making cat grass available. Best of all though, your cat will finally appreciate and recognize the value of your gardening efforts! Until now, no matter how excited I’ve been about what I’ve grown, Bisou has remained…underwhelmed (see image below). If you’re like me, you know that when your cat is happy, all is well.
- Cat grass seeds
- Potting soil, organic preferred
- Shallow planter
- Prepare a shallow pot with all purpose potting soil.
- Scatter cat grass seeds densely in a single layer, pressing into the soil or sprinkling a thin layer of soil on top of them, so seeds are just covered.
- Spritz with water to moisten soil right after sowing seeds, then once per day.
- Place in a bright window. Sprouts should appear within a few days. If they don't, try moving the pot to a brighter location.
- Cat grass is ready when it's at least a few inches high.
Water just enough to moisten the surface of the soil, and skip watering if the soil still seems wet. Overwatering = mold. When introducing cat grass for the first time, let your cat have just a little bit at a time for the first few days to prevent stomach upset.
Couldn’t have been easier, right!? Have you ever grown cat grass? Are you growing anything exciting this summer? We’d love to hear all about it!