Shared by Max
Stanotte me li studio tutti…
Maybe you’ve tried to “garden” before, but the results were brown, wilted, and de-motivating. This spring, don’t give up and settle for plastic flowers. Use these great resources to grow flowers, herbs, and vegetables, whether in your yard or in your window.
Photo by Carl Tashian.
My own inspiration for trying out a garden this spring, or at least some random assemblage of plants, is simple: I just bought a house, I love food, and I want to keep up with the Joneses. Growing and gardening can take place anywhere, though, and for many reasons. You could launch a small project from an urban apartment window, or scatter seeds across a field with the hopes of eating cheaper and fresher. Trent at the Get Rich Slowly blog tracked his costs, time, and other data from he and his wife’s year-long gardening project, and found the intake very much worth the output. Read on for some starter ideas that apply to any level of expertise.
Utilize the Wisdom of Locals
If you’re just starting out growing anything in or around your home, you probably have questions about what can grow, under what conditions, and for how long. You know who has the answer? Plenty of people. Cooperative extensions across the country offer free pamphlets, guides, walk-in advice, and they can easily be found at this nationwide map, or with just a “[Name of your area] cooperative extension” Google search. A D.C.-based fact checker for the Atlantic and her NPR reporter husband, both of whom had killed windowsill herbs before, found a wealth of information from their local Virginia Cooperative Extension when they started working in a community garden—which is, in itself, another good training tool to look and Google for. In my own neck of the woods, I was amazed to find that I could bring two scoops of dirt in Tupperware to the local Cornell Cooperative Extension, where I’d learn just what kind of strengths and problems my patio held before I’d even considered buying Plant One. Photo by Manchester Library.
Keep in mind, though, that just because your area can support a plant under normal circumstances, that doesn’t mean a drought or atypical season won’t wreak havoc on your efforts. National Geographic recommends plants that don’t need regular water for more consistent green coverage.
Make a Hydroponic Farm From a Sunny Window
Yeah, we know what you’re thinking. But hydroponics has some great uses, beyond what the shop that advertises on the local modern rock station might have you thinking. Photo by Windowfarms.
WindowFarms.org is an initiative that wants to help anyone with a window that gets a decent amount of sun grow food in it. The group has 4,000 registered users, and has a host of how-to manuals for both small starter setups and full-window farms. The gist is that you create a cycling water system using larger bottled water bottles, clay pellets, a big roll of plastic tubing, and some cheap fish tank pumps to spare you the trouble of ever having to remember to water your plants, or worry that you’ve watered them too much, deal with spill-overs, and the like. You won’t be able to stop shopping at the grocery store, but you can achieve memorable results—as with this first window farm salad.
Container Gardens 101
If you live where there’s a very short growing season, container plants help you get a jump on Mother Nature. If you’re an apartment renter or just not sure you’re ready to commit to digging up part of your yard, container gardens let you grow without fear. You can head to your local hardware or garden store and go nuts, but here are the goods and write-ups we’ve previously linked to and dug on (pun intended!). Photo by briannaorg.
- Container garden how-to: (Direct PDF link) Texas A&M's guide to growing vegetables in all kinds of containers, including hanging pots, cake pans, potato bags, and more.
- The Earthtainer: A nicely detailed how-to on turning your standard plastic container bin into a self-watering tomato grower.
- Grow Bags: Stand-alone, custom-sized bags that allow for growing herbs, vegetables, or other plants without fear of over-watering or controlling moisture. Two of them also fit neatly into a water-maintenance bed.
- Grow plants and tomatoes upside down: If you’ve got a garage or more hanging space than dirt to work with, upside-down tomatoes can be a great in-between solution. You can find more attractive buckets than the Home Depot standard, or grow other plants in an upside-down hanging earth box.
- Grow potatoes in a high-rise box: Potatoes aren’t exactly expensive, but growing them yourself can keep you in regular supply of spuds that you can brag about to your friends.
- Go vertical: If you lack for footage in a small yard, consider what can grow on your fence walls, or trellis you install yourself.
Grow Indoors or On A Windowsill
Maybe you lack the time, or the land, to grow things outdoors. That’s more than fine, because there are plenty of plants you can grow inside or just outside a window to freshen your air, complement your food, and improve your home’s looks. Photo by Caitlinator.
If it’s fresh vegetables you’re after, a window ledge garden can yield salad greens, rainbow chard, herbs like basil and cilantro that you’d normally pay a pretty penny for. If you’re after herbs in particular, foodie site CHOW provides details on growing herbs indoors, particularly the stuff that doesn’t grow wild, like lemongrass, bay leaves, and kaffir lime plants.
If a potted plant by a window suits you just fine, you’ve got a lot of options. Sunset magazine lists 10 easy-care houseplants, including Chinese evergreens. We’ve previously compiled, with photos, five hard-to-kill houseplants, and pointed to three plants that give you better indoor air, while Jason dug up some cubicle-friendly plants in response to a reader question.
Got your own little low-commitment, high-yield garden project of your own? Take a photo, share a link, and show us how it’s done in the comments.