Whether you have a full backyard or tiny city balcony, your personal garden is just a few seeds away. To get you started, we’ve rounded up the easiest plants to grow and our best tips for first-timers. Your garden will bloom in no time!
Pick Your Produce
You don’t have to have a green thumb to garden – but, you may want to start with plants that are more low maintenance. To name a few of our favorites:
1. Tomatoes. In particular, smaller kinds – like cherry tomatoes – are known for being easy to grow, letting you skirt many of the nuisances that often afflict larger tomatoes. They can also be grown in containers or hanging baskets, making them doable for urban gardeners. Check the tag to make sure you’re buying a determinate kind, and not a potentially unwieldy indeterminate variety – they’ll still need to be staked, but this ensures they won’t grow too high!
Bonus points if you give what’s known as companion planting – planting two species that grow well together – a shot. We’re giving out sweet basil seeds again this Earth Day, and since basil is said to improve the growth and taste of tomatoes and repel pests, it’s the perfect accompaniment!
2. Carrots. We’ve got you covered with seeds, and carrots are another virtually foolproof option for getting started. For one thing, they tolerate a bit of shade, making them ideal if your space doesn’t receive full sunlight. While they’ll of course need to be watered, they also won’t shrivel up right away if you forget from time to time – just don’t let the soil dry out!
3. Cherry Belle Radishes, another root veggie we’ll have seeds for, offer the same tolerance for shade and forgetfulness as carrots. Get ready to get creative with your preparation – since this radish sprouts easily, you’ll have a bounty to enjoy crisp and cold, braised and tender or any other way you please.
4. Gem Lettuce. Lettuce probably appears on your table pretty regularly. That doesn’t mean your salads have to be boring – after all, different types of lettuce each have their own unique taste. Gem lettuce, which is known for its sweetness, is a type of romaine ideal for smaller gardens. Also known as Little Gem, the heads – true to the name – tend to be a lot smaller than other heads of lettuce, meaning you’re safe to sow the seeds closer together.
Image via Flickr, Squirrel Nation
5. Mint. Herbs in general are incredibly easy to grow, on a balcony or even just in a sunny kitchen windowsill. Mint is one of our go-tos, since it tends to take over a pot like a weed and will grow readily through the summer if well-watered. Pro tip: when you start to notice flower buds forming – also known as going to seed – snip them off just below the bud to encourage your plant to continue growing.
If you constantly find yourself needing some of an herb and buying more than you need at the store, an herb garden may be for you. Chives, rosemary and lemon thyme are other herbs we love, and the great thing about growing them yourself is you can easily pick just what you need.
Sow Your Seeds
Have your seeds? Time to get started. Keep these tips in mind as you watch your garden grow!
- Of course plants needs water, but they need food too! Nutrients come from the soil as well as fertilizer. You can buy organic fertilizer, or go for options like banana peels and coffee grinds. Different plants respond differently to different fertilizers, so be sure to check before you try it!
- To get the most out of your garden, you’ll want to make sure you picked seeds that can flourish in your environment. If you don’t live somewhere sunny, don’t plant seeds known to require tons of sunlight!
- Make the most of what space you have. If you’re an urban gardener with a balcony, consider plants that can grow in containers, hanging baskets or on stakes. Get creative with your space.
- Most seeds can’t be started outside until well after the last frost. If it’s still chilly out where you live, get a head start by starting your seeds indoors.
- Another way to get a head start? Scope out your local garden store for established plants you can buy. Planting seedlings, which are already off to a great start, can have less risk than sowing seeds, which run the risk of not sprouting.
Most importantly, have fun. If a plant doesn’t blossom or pests come crawling, don’t be discouraged – simply learn from your first gardening experience and start again! After all, the season’s just begun.
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