A year ago, I started a garden in my backyard. I was so excited about it! I bought peppers, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, mint, chives, cilantro… you name it, I bought it! I almost changed my name to Sustainable Patty, until 2 months later when I saw that nothing was growing. How was I supposed to make a Caprese Salad without delicious tomatoes? My peppers never grew and my snap peas were more pea-uny (sustainable joke, sorry) than anything else!
That’s when I realized I was taking on too much! One year later, with some help, I have my first three tomatoes, and an herb garden that I am sure House Beautiful will want to take a picture of! The rest of the vegetables? They’re not there anymore, because I followed these 5 simple steps to my first sustainable garden:
1. Pick the right spot
While some plants need the heat and the extensive sunlight of the outdoors, many don’t! For the majority of plants, the best spots to grow a garden are places where sun and temperature are not extreme. Grow an herb garden full of chives, basil and mint on your windowsill, or place tomatoes and cucumbers on a balcony. Some veggies, like mushrooms, need cool, dark and dry places to thrive, while potatoes can be grown in a bucket– no joke!
2. Pick the right plant, herb or vegetable
The main thing I took away from my mass planting and massive failure was that you can’t hope to plant a million things at once. Get started with some herbs as they are the easiest things to plant! You will see yourself trimming them constantly to keep them from overflowing– that’s how quickly they grow! Also, begin with the vegetables that you eat the most. Don’t plan Norwegian Snapple Peppers if you KNOW you won’t be eating them. Finally, make sure you plant season-appropriate vegetables so they are at their best. Urban Farmer provides this nifty Seed Calendar so you know when you can plant the herbs and veggies you want throughout the year.
3. Pick the right container
Pots and planters are a thing of the past. Get creative with your gardening! You can use tea pots for herbs, buckets for potatoes or hanging wires for tomatoes. Brightnest recently posted these two extremely helpful articles on unique ways to pot plants. There’s even a step-by-step guide on how to create your own pallet garden.
4. Pick the right hydration method
Take two cups of water and dump them daily into a pot of herbs and a vine of peas, respectively. You will soon notice that a plant like the sweet pea vine will thrive, while your herbs will wither away. No one plant takes the same amount of water. Herbs can easily get waterlogged and stop sprouting. Make sure you read up on the proper hydration methods and follow rules like: keep soil moist (not just damp) or don’t water in bright sunlight because plans can actually burn!
5. Pick them when ready and enjoy!
Websites like SproutRobot.com are great places to track how your plants should be developing. You will notice that your adorable tea pots are overflowing with herbs in just a few weeks and that trellis you set up is sprouting tomatoes in a few months! You can finally make me that Caprese Salad I have been craving so much!
Leave a comment below and tell us about your home gardens!