At-home gardening is an endlessly fun and go-to way to spice up your Spring, your home, and eat for free. I grew up with a mother who gardened. The way I knew it was spring was because she would come home with bags of new top soil, flowers to edge the planters, and tomato plants. She always had dirt on her hands and her hair tied back. She could be found most of the year turning over the soil and talking to her plants. So, for me it seemed like a right of passage to plant my own when the time came.
I tend to lean toward vegetable gardens because I find them more rewarding (food!!), so what’s not to love about that? But it can be said a flower garden takes a little less work and if you plant perennials they’ll just come on right back up next year. But for me, fruits and vegetables are where it’s at.
I’m a nomad. Over the years I have moved a lot. Sometimes I have a yard, sometimes I barely have a window. So I’ve pretty much figured out every way to get at least something growing no matter my living situation. Below I’ve listed what I think are four easy and reasonable ways to get a garden going.
If you’re going to start from scratch with seeds, you want to start super early (indoors maybe if your ground freezes late or early spring if you don’t get the freeze). I prefer to get starter plants. These are the little ones at the nursery that already look like they’re going to make it. You also want to buy some new top soil because it’s full of nutrients and you wanted to mix it in like you’re baking to the soil already there, churn it all up and get some good energy and air flowing in there.
A go to first timers shopping list: tomato plants (get a few different breeds), kale (it grows like crazy you can eat it almost every day), herbs (cilantro, rosemary, mint). If you want to do fruit get strawberries, though they will be better the second year. Beware, watermelons take over and need their own zone or they will strangle everything else. One personal fave of mine is climber green beans. You can build a little structure for them and they will flower and grow up the poles and they look adorable!
WORK WITH THE SPACE YOU’VE GOT
A Frankenstein garden: this is what I call my grad school garden. I didn’t have a yard my first year and I certainly did not have any money to buy any plants. So I used old tin cans and jars and then food scraps to propagate new plants. This means you put the root system in a glass of water and wait for it to sprout new roots and regrow itself. Plants that this works with: green onions, romaine lettuce, celery, onions, and garlic among other ones. It’s fun, it’s kind of weird looking, and you can eat what grows. Winning!
No yard, but I plant it anyway gardening: This is more of an urban gardening technique for those of you in apartments and cities. You can go simple with a window box and plant herbs, this looks and smells amazing. Or if you’re feeling more crafty there are about a zillion ways on Pinterest to build wall hanging garden boxes that won’t take up a ton of room and look like an edible art installation! The trick is discovery how much sun they can get and what the best watering system is because I once made a real mess in my apartment. 🙄
Some yard, no soil: This option is similar to urban gardening, but if you have the space I advocate for some garden boxes. I’ve seen this done with Tupperware bins, or reclaimed wood, pallets, and even wine barrels. The trick to this though is to use really good soil when you start. You aren’t getting the natural benefits of being in the earth so they sometimes need some extra love. A great thing to do too is to get yourself some earth worms because they will naturally help maintain the soil and decomposition of plants. Big tip: be sure that you have proper drainage in what ever you build the boxes out of (drill holes in the bottom) otherwise your soil will mold and your plants will die. Trust me, I know. (Are you sensing a theme? Trial and error, babes, trial and error).
The real deal: This is if you’ve got a garden plot or room to make one. There is something about real dirt and being outside that makes me feel like my mother. But quick tips: turn the dirt, like a lot, mix in new soil, and turn it more. If you’re a patient person, spend a week or so mixing in eggshells, earth worms, and even coffee grounds. Be sure to space your plants properly, remember they will grow and they want some room to stretch. And never underestimate the need to turn the soil over, this is a process done with a small hand rake that you comb through the dirt around the plants to keep things lively. Do not over water, you want the dirt moist but not soaked, and water early in the morning otherwise the water droplets might burn the leaves in the hot direct sunlight.
Ok yay! Get those babies in the ground and let’s check back in a month or so to see how we’re doing with more tips on what to plant for summer!