Indoor inspirations in the outdoor season 

Growing food indoors is easy for those willing to put in a little effort

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Warm sunshine has turned the plant life around us from dull beige to vibrant greens. Bold yellow, red and blue flowers are highlighted in front of the green background.

This is the time when rhubarb, chard, arugula, collard greens and lettuce are being harvested by home gardeners. More fruits and vegetables will come as the sun continues to bless the northern hemisphere with long stretches of daylight.

This is all good for now but when our friends in the southern hemisphere get their turn in the sun home gardeners here who are hooked on the superior taste of lettuce when it is eaten immediately after being picked from the garden will have some choices to make.

A few savvy marketers have picked up on the growing desire of an increasing number of people who are growing their own food.

Entrepreneurs like Kent Houston and the team at a company called the Urban Cultivator in Surrey have picked up on this and found ways to keep the produce coming 12 months of the year.

The kitchen staff at Sidecut in Whistler's Four Seasons Hotel has been happily using an Urban Cultivator to grow the herbs most commonly used in the hotel kitchen. Urban Cultivator offers a system that will fit into a home kitchen. The appliance looks a bit like a well-lit bar fridge filled with greens instead of bottles of wine and beer.

Houston is the person behind a company called Patch and he has come up with a product that's decorative and functional.

Reached at Houston's home in Vancouver, the former landscape company owner says more people want more control over the food they eat so he's also offering a self-watering planter system fuelled by the idea that anyone can grow food, anywhere.

Houston's Patch is an indoor growing planter that looks good and works. He describes his customers as "counterscapers" or people who want a pleasant looking plant in a nice looking planter that fits in the kitchen, the living room or on the patio.

"While I kind of thought we were selling to urban agriculturalists, no, we're not because the opportunity I saw was that in a home and garden centre there's all sorts of planters for decorative plants but as soon as you step into the agricultural arena there's these plastic pieces of crap that just have no aesthetic value," says Houston. "Now that the whole local organics zeitgeist is urban chic you've got Whole Foods and it's cool to go to the farmer's market. You don't want this plastic piece of crap planter sitting next to your... patio furniture."

And so here we are on the verge of summer with fall about 15 weeks away.

"How are we going to feed ourselves as we move forward?" asks Houston.

A very good question, indeed as we enjoy crisp spring greens from the garden followed by the bittersweet taste of fresh rhubarb crumble.

Speaking of Sidecut


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