around the house: small gardens

I’ve talked about my aspirations to garden off and on in the past. My biggest obsticals are space and more importantly my inability to keep anything alive! Somehow all my good intentions to garden are usually not enough to avert disaster when it comes to planting seeds and keeping them going.

05.13.11 | small gardens

The past several weeks though, I have been faithfully tending to a little trio of herbs that I planted. My sister inspired me to give growing plants another go, and if all goes well (the worst enemy at this point in the year is the sunshine that tends to bake plants!), hopefully in a couple months I’ll be harvesting some fresh herbs to use in my cooking. I planted chives, basil and cilantro. The latter two I’m most excited about, as I use both a lot every week. Certainly this is a very humble start for me, but I’m being optomistic about keeping these going! Now I’m contemplating perhaps buying a few small potted flowers to keep around as well… Hope springs eternal!

My question to you is this: do you garden (large or small)? What are your favorite things to grow? Have any tips for a gardening novice? My dad (who is rather good at the whole gardening thing–I obviousy missed out on that gene!) and I talk weekly about his “natural” gardening adventures, as he’s been exploring ways to cultivate the soil without using chemicals. Which has piqued my interest as well (though on such a small scale, I doubt I can really partake of more “green” versions of gardening). I’d love to hear your thoughts and tips on gardening!

May 13, 2011 · 63 lovely thoughts
posted in around the house · tags: ,

Gina May 13, 2011 at 08:35

I don’t keep much alive, but I like tomatoes for a BLT’s sandwich in the summertime! There is nothing like that and a glass of pink lemonade!


Aislinn May 13, 2011 at 08:37

I love to grow herbs. All sorts… Mint for my mojitos, origano for my veggie spag bow, chives for my home made potato salad, basil for salads and Italian dishes, corriander for everything! Also just started to grow strawberrys and rasberrys this year, the plants are thriving, so hopfully i will get a good crop this summer. Also started to grow spinich from seed, which is doing very well.

My top tip is not to grow everything from seed, buy small seedlings from the garden centers. But i grow soft herbs from seeds, like basil and corriander as i use allot of them.


Karen in VA May 13, 2011 at 08:58

I live in a high rise, so my gardening is limited to pots on my balcony. That said, it is possible to grow veggies, you just have to choose wisely. This year, I’m growing 2 types of red cherry tomatoes, 1 type of yellow, small bell peppers and herbs. I have found that trying to grow the large tomatoes just doesn’t work in pots, at least for me… Self-watering planters are great, as is the potting soil that has the moisture retention stuff mixed in. That said, you do have to check pots every day as they dry out much faster. I can grow enough tomatoes, peppers and herbs on my balcony to keep me happy all summer, which occassional extras for my sisters. There is just something so satisfying about working in the dirt!!! Good luck!!


Alena May 13, 2011 at 09:03

Congratulations on your forays into gardening!
I have found that owning a house certainly has some advantages, being able to put in a garden is one of them! Up here in a shady corner of the Northeast I have a hard time starting things from seed, but as long as I remember to water them, I’ve had pretty good luck with our little garden. I’ve found the most important thing for me is to put the potted plants (and situate the outdoor garden) somewhere where I have to pass by them many times a day, that way I can not forget about them and ignore them. I always worry about potted plants needing more water, they can dry out fairly quickly if you’re not watching them.


Barbara Bull May 13, 2011 at 09:04

I, too, am horrible at gardening! It doesn’t really help that my husband is stationed at Fort Bragg in the sandhills of NC. And the sandhills are exactly what they sound like. Nothing but sand for soil! We don’t have grass is out backyard, just weeds. Haha, Its horrible to mow, but at least it hides the ugly sand patches.

I started with herbs and they seemed pretty easy. I water them and night and then again when the sun goes down. My husband is a landscaper and said if there is any water on your plants when the sun is out, the water acts as a magnifying glass and will burn your leaves so they turn yellow! I didn’t know that! I’ve already used some clippings from basil in my food. I looked up articles about drying and you can do it in the microwave!

I started growing tomatoes, bell peppers, hot peppers, strawberries and a blueberry bush, too. They are doing wonderfully! I got a website that shows you how to build a self-watering container out of rubbermaid tubs. If you bought it at a store already made it would be $150, but only about $20-30 if you make it yourself. If sun is a problem it definitely helps. You don’t have to worry about watering if you’re gone all day.

Here’s a link to an article in my blog about it. There’s a link for the self-watering containers as well. I had to put a cage around my tomato plants because they were getting huge!!! They’re about 3 feet now and 7 little tomatoes are growing! I’m so excited!!! I think the containers were the reason. I know a couple of my friends around here tried, and they’re died from no water. You should try it! Its a good project for you and your husband to do! My husband had to help me :)

Good luck with your gardening! I’ve had so much fun so far! Sorry this was a really long comment!


Melissa Swanson May 13, 2011 at 09:11

Don’t feel bad — the first year I started my balcony garden, I killed absolutely everything. Things are better now:)
In my limited experience so far, basil is pretty easy to grow and it sure is nice to have around. Cilantro is hard to keep from seeding, and once it seeds, it doesn’t take long to die (or maybe it just didn’t like me). But my jalapeno plant is a true survivor! It just keeps on living, growing, and popping out peppers like there’s no tomorrow. So I recommend jalapenos. I have learned to like a little extra heat in my food thanks to my pepper plant:)


Lisette May 13, 2011 at 09:16

This is the first year that I have tried gardening at all, and it is so hard! I grew Johnnie Jump Ups, which I recently transplanted. They are doing the best so far. I also grew sweet pea, but they got baked and jostled and wind-blown and in general are looking very sad. I also tried lavendar but only three out of MANY seeds even popped up! They are taking forever to grow.


when skies are grey May 13, 2011 at 09:16

I am here in Florida as well, more south than you. The great part for us is that we get almost the entire year to garden. I have a nice sized veggie garden and I’ve learned that (using organic fertilizer/compost) feeding your plants about once a month or so keeps them healthy. Cilantro and basil do great here, just keep pinching off the tops of the basil and it will keep growing. Good luck :)


Emma May 13, 2011 at 09:18

I garden a fair bit. I have a 7500 sq.ft. garden, though unfortunately much of it is grass. We’ve been planning to move abroad during 2011, so I didn’t want to pull up all of the grass and make the house less attractive for potential buyers. I grow my own herbs, though, all of our salads, and also broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, beets, six varieties of bean, chickpeas, sugarsnaps, carrots, potatoes, black salsify, swedes, five varieties of tomatoes, chilli, peppers, two types of aubergines, summer squash, winter squash, leeks, probably a bunch of things I’m forgetting, and we also have numerous berry bushes and fruit trees. It’s all done biodynamically and virtually everything we grow are heirloom varieties. I just long for my new garden where I can pull up ALL the grass and finally become a lot more self-sufficient. :)

My top tip is to read a lot. Get a good book on propagation techniques, with lots of pictures, and start out small. It’s easy to go nuts your first time planning a proper growing season and then everything dies. Be prepared to make mistakes. I lost ALL my brassicas one year because I failed to realise the white little butterflies all over the garden in spring were cabbage moths. It happens. The following year I interplanted with marigolds, which the moths hate.


YarnUiPhoneApp May 13, 2011 at 09:20

I think too many of us beat ourselves up over “I don’t have a green thumb” or “I kill anything that tries to grow.” I’m not great at gardening…but I have an orchid that’s thriving because of my neglect (it doesn’t like to be watered much) and I grow alfalfa sprouts very well (in a jar, no soil needed)….I understand kale is hard to kill. Like anything in life, we can surprise ourselves with what we ** can** do. Anyhow, Casey, congrats on the chives!


Rachel May 13, 2011 at 09:23

I have a blog dedicated to gardening adventures :) I love to grow food- and the kids love it too.
There is nothing to beat those fresh summer veggies.
A trick I learned from Colonial Williamsburg gardens, is that you can actually shade plant from baking afternoon heat to keep them from baking!
(I linked to my garden blog this time so you can just click through ;) )


marmielu May 13, 2011 at 09:33

Hurrah for your herbs!!! I know how excited you must be at their growth!
I’m so excited about the stuff your dad and I planted in pots on the deck this year. The lettuces are actually starting to grow and form heads, and the herbs are really growing. I’ve even managed to snip a few things for use in dinners. Did I tell you I planted some mint, too? I keep running across recipes using fresh mint, so am hoping it does well.
I hope you give some flowers a try. That is always so cheerful.


Stephanie May 13, 2011 at 09:35

I have no green thumb to speak of! The only plant I haven’t managed to kill is my aloe plant.


Katelyn May 13, 2011 at 10:22

I live in the Kentucky/Ohio/Indiana tri-state area, and it’s extremely humid here and it rains constantly throughout the spring, so I have the opposite problem as you do: Not enough sun-light/too much water! However, I’ve been doing the “herb garden in pots” thing for 3 years and it’s been successful with me because you can move the pots around. Move them inside or to sunnier spots, or whatever. They say if the leaves turn light green, you are watering too much, and if they get all wilted then they are thirsty. I’ve had great success with lavender (which you can hang in your bedroom and it smells wonderful), basil, stevia, lemon balm, rosemary, mint and oregano. However, I cannot get parsley to grow for the life of me and I’ve had trouble with thyme as well. I always buy the already started plants. I can never ever grow from seeds. it just doesn’t work out for me.

I great natural thing that you can do is whenever you cut your grass, save the grass clippings and when they turn brown, throw them on top of the base of your plants. they will hold moisture under them and they will also attract worms, which are extremely healthy for your plant to have. Also, you may want to try growing an aloe plant. They love the heat, require hardly any watering and great for many things!

Good luck! Love your blog :)


Michelle M. May 13, 2011 at 10:36

I haven’t planted a garden in the last few years, but in the past I usually grew tomatoes, jalapeños, basil and corn. Jalapeños are surprisingly easy and the main tip I have about basil is to make sure you remove the flowers before they bloom as they will make the leaves a bit bitter.


Christine Hand May 13, 2011 at 10:38

Dear Casey,

Hurrah for gardening adventures! You must get the best sunshine down where you are. I live in the midwest and have a fairly large garden. My favorite thing to grow is potatoes. Have you ever had a potato fresh out of the ground? They aren’t like grocery store potatoes– they’re very white on the outside and very moist and not at all sticky and starchy. Also, peas are fun. And lavender. My biggest advice is to 1) read the Old Farmer’s Almanac and 2) be consistent with watering and weeding. It doesn’t do to water everything very nicely for a week and then leave off for several days. Same thing with the weeding, though I suspect you won’t have much trouble with weeds in your pots. Good luck!




chriss May 13, 2011 at 11:00

Oh Casey I relate completely. I have a horrible black thumb for indoor plants (or anything in a pot, really) so getting seeds to start, and to have them survive up until I can plant them in a garden is brutal. (Once the plants are in the dirt outside, I seem to have a much easier time taking care of them.) I don’t know if my top tip would be to buy seedlings at a garden centre, although they’re nice to have as a fallback!

I would have to say that I garden “small” — I have two raised beds (2′x6′ and 2′x8′) and I grow greens, carrots, radishes, beans, tomatoes, peas and this year cucumbers (assuming I don’t kill them all — they’re still in inside!). The beds don’t take up a huge amount of space… and you’d be surprised what you can get to grow in a square foot of well-composed soil!

If I had a tip, it would be to not bite off more than you can chew. It’s easy to let your wishlist run rampant, then suddenly be up to your ears in more work than you have time for : ) I think your herbs are an awesome start — and if you have a little room outside, maybe build a bed there (2′x2′ maybe?) and see how that goes. Don’t feel the need to rush!


Susan from Living Vintage May 13, 2011 at 11:22

I do garden. Good for your dad for going organic so much better way to go for everyones health. My main advice is to test your soil if you decide to move out of the pots I never did this for years and well…..I finally did and and adjusted my soil nutrients and suprise more veggies from a smaller area. Also don’t take on more than you can handle. I have a very large yard and tried a really big garden and not only was it more than I could do it was making it too much of a chore. Now I just have a few raised beds and border gardens and it is so much more fun.


Jenny @ Kerrfect! May 13, 2011 at 11:32

We Organic Heirloom garden I guess on a medium scale. We have two 4X8 raised beds in the backyard and several planters around the front room. We love growing tomatoes, herbs, potatoes. We didn’t do so well with broccoli, cauliflower or head lettuce though. I think it’s the short growing season here. currently I’ve got about 10 different varieties of heirloom tomatoes on my windowsill waiting to be transplanted, but I can’t for about another month. We get moved around a lot so we’ve had to learn a lot about gardening in different areas. Viriginia, Florida, Indiana, Wisconsin now. We find the best advice you can get is to hang around the garden center and wait for the little old ladies and ask them! Most of them are life long gardeners and local residents, so they know their stuff for your area. We are trying corn, pumpkins and watermelons this year… in addition to some of our better producers last year. Hopefully things will work out.

If you are interested, I’ve posted a little bit about historic gardening in the past couple weeks and I have some vintage Victory Garden booklets that we got at an estate sale that I plan to scan and post in sections. You should check it out sometime. Our kitchen is done in old Victory Garden poster prints… we are really into the whole “historic gardening” thing…. or really just anything old in general! LOL


Laura May 13, 2011 at 11:41

We had a garden when we lived in Oregon. It was so easy! You just plant there and things grow. Now that we live in Las Vegas it is a bit harder. I haven’t every been good at gardening, so my husband is in charge of ours. We have everything in containers. We have mostly herbs, with some zucchini and yellow squash. Unfortunately our tomato plant didn’t make it. I think it wasn’t watered enough. For mother’s day I received 2 Meyer’s lemon trees! They may not be considered part of a garden, but they are a plant that grows.


hillary May 13, 2011 at 12:08

I’m trying to expand my little garden this year. I’m trying to grow things that a) everyone in my house likes to eat, b) are expensive in the grocery store/farmer’s market, and c) can be put up when we have an excess. That means yes to cucumbers and no to zucchini, for example. And there is nothing like a garden tomato…nothing! Plus I want to have a lot of success so I’m trying to choose varieties that are hardy and productive. I love having an herb garden, and last year I got rosemary, lavender, thyme, oregano, and lemon verbena established. Adding borage, parsley, cilantro, and basil this year (obviously the annuals I will have to replace every year but I’m hoping some will self-seed). For the veggies I have a small growing area so I’m trying to verticalize as much as possible, and do double-duty on things that I can. For example, I planted herbs around the base of our potted lemon tree, to discourage the cat from using it as a litterbox AND to get more use from the big pot of dirt. Now I have so much German thyme I don’t know what to do with it!


K2 May 13, 2011 at 12:15

We garden. Mostly landscaping type gardening. The only “food stuff” we currently grow is Artemisia (Wormwood) that we grow for my brother-in-law’s micro-distillery. The wormwood gets made into Pacifique Absinthe. Most of our gardening is “green” mostly because we are too busy (lazy) to put chemicals on anything. The only thing that we use chemicals on is our lawn. We live in the Pacific Northwest where our rainy season is known as Fall-Winter-Spring. So we have out of control moss growth 9 months out of the year. Plus our soil is really acidic, which moss loves. About once a year when it stops raining for a day or two, we will put moss out on the lawn.

I have tried for years to grow tomatoes. But once it finally warms up enough to plant seedlings, we seem to run out of time at the end of the season for the tomatoes to mature fully. In the past, I have also grown pole green beans up a arbor I made out of copper pipes. Green beans are very easy to grow and so yummy to eat. Plus, they aren’t a pick once crop. You can harvest a few at a time over a couple of weeks.


Patricia Lynn May 13, 2011 at 12:16

I love to garden, especially with herbs, but I find the buggies love my basil, so I don’t get to use it much. I also plant thyme and Italian parsley, as I use them quite a bit as well. Thyme is pretty hardy and you don’t have to replant each year. I also grow a bunch of lavender and rosemary, which in my climate does great. Lavender and rosemary sachets in your drawers make your things smell so nice.


Sarah May 13, 2011 at 12:17

I used to be an avid gardener, back when we had two acres to play with. Herbs were my babies. Then I moved to where I had room for only pots. There, I babied roses. They didn’t take so well to it, honestly. Now that I’m back in a place where I can put things in the ground, I’m running with it! My goal is to propagate herbs to eventually sell. You can follow my journey, complete with missteps, on my blog.

The main tip I can give with herbs that I’m experiencing right now is the more you prune, the more they grow! My basil is going like crazy because I keep hacking it almost completely down to dry.


mala_14 May 13, 2011 at 13:11

I garden in pots and planters. My mom got a mini-rose one year as a gift, and I later took out the little rose plants and put them in much larger pots. Now I have a small indoor rose garden. The roses actually grew into more normal size roses once they were in bigger pots. So weird! And our climate is so not suited for most roses, so there’s no way I’d be able to grow these inside. I like to try to grow something new every year in the planters. One year it was potatoes and I ended up with a bunch of itty-bitty potatoes, just from sticking an old potato in the planter. I had a sweet pea too. Last year I tried to plant sweet pea again, but my dad saw it growing and thought it was a weed and pulled it out. Needless to say, I was pretty upset. The chives regrow all on their own every year, so that’s really convenient. I find them very hardy. Basil does alright for me too, when it has enough room to really grow. If you pick off the centre part of the basil, after it has been growing for a bit, it promotes branching. I did cherry tomatoes every year, but have run out of the seeds this year. I took them from some cherry tomatoes I got from a friend. Growing from seed is fun because it’s so strange to see the little tiny seeds turn into a great big plant. When growing the cherry tomatoes I learned something different every year (about when to start them, how much room they need, etc.). Some things just refuse to grow for me. I tried growing oregano and mint, and neither of them germinated. Maybe I got bad seeds? Gardening, I find, is like sewing: lots of trial and error. But you really only get one shot a year. Well, here we do. It’s still too early to plant anything outside. We’re not supposed to plant anything before Victoria Day, because there’s no guarantee we won’t still get frost. So silly!

Good luck with your gardening adventures!


Maria May 13, 2011 at 13:37

Living in South Florida has it’s issues when it comes to growing (or should that by trying to grow) anything. I’ve tried herbs but they died. I’ve even killed cactus!
Perhaps my problem is over and/or under watering them. It seems you can drown plants with too much water, which I wasn’t aware of initially, and thought the more water the less likely they would be to die of thirst.

However, I don’t give up easily and I did start some tomato plants this year, from seedlings, and they’ve grown and produced a few tomatoes. I’ve been using Miracle Grow potting soil which may have helped. And I check on them every day to see if they need any water or bug removal, etc. Since they were fairly successful, I’m going to try some peppers next. And, maybe I’ll try some herbs again in the future.


The Zany Housewife May 13, 2011 at 13:44

I’m fairly new to gardening myself. I have a variety of herbs I started from seed as well as a couple tomato plants and hot peppers. Unfortunately they’re not doing too well as they need to be transferred and will probably not survive our move to a house (I’m currently an apartment dweller and our patio gets almost no sun). :( With that said, I still plan on continuing and starting over if I have to. It’s probably too late for us this season to make a raised garden bed in our new backyard so I’ll be doing container gardening both indoors and out. You would be amazed at just how much you can grow in containers!

The best advice I was given from a seasoned gardener is to start small and take your time. Keep notes on what works and what doesn’t work so that next year, you can kick it up a notch. Herbs are a great starting point as are tomatoes! Also, look into local nurseries around you. Some may have free garden classes that you can attend on a variety of subjects. It’s definitely worth looking into.

And if you are limited on space, sometimes it pays to grow up instead of out. So if you want to grow beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, invest in a trelesse (sp?) and train the plants to grow up and around it.

Good luck! I can’t wait to see your progress!

p.s. Also, be sure to pinch off the basil so that it will grow fuller. I pinch off the tiny leaves and my basil has nearly doubled in size. It’s also good to do that with tomatoes too.

p.p.s. Dang, I’m writing a novella with my comment…Sunset books are a great resource on gardening and can often be found in thrift stores. I also enjoy the magazine Urban Farms.


trudy May 13, 2011 at 16:29

Hi casey,I live in Australia and am pretty hopeless at gardening except for my potted herbs! My secret to keeping them alive in the hot summer is to place them under the airconditioner so the water drips slowly into them>I haven’t had a pot plant die in years .


Sarah Louise May 13, 2011 at 17:34

I grow garlic chives, basil and mizuna in pots. There was once a spinnach plant, but a possum got to that before me! I love, love, love the basil – there’s something so satisfying about using your own herbs, and fresh basil tastes absolutely amazing in so many dishes. I’d love to get some more plants. I’ve heard certain citrus trees like lemons make great little patio potplants. And a lemon is a very handy thing to have in the kitchen – it would save me running to the corner store for one every time I wanted to make a cheesecake :)


Galadriel May 13, 2011 at 18:00

Hi Casey,

It looks like a lot of us garden! I think the most important lesson I learned about gardening is to grow plants according to your climate, first and foremost. There’s no point planting something sun-loving if you get cool, rainy summers (as we do)–you’ll only end up wasting time and effort. I’d find out what’s suited to your part of Florida–look at what local people are growing, for instance–and grow yourself some easy and fabulous plants.


Carla May 13, 2011 at 18:13

I wish you luck with your garden, Casey!
I -just- planted my flowers for my garden today. I’m hoping the sun doesn’t bake the poor things.
I’ve always been pretty successful with gardening, but I think it’s because the soil in my area is pretty rich. My mother is starting up a vegetable garden at her house, so that’ll be exciting to see what grows.


Alli May 13, 2011 at 18:26

Unfortunately the extent of my gardening at the moment is weeding,pruning and mowing. But when we get a house of our own I would really love to start my own veggie garden and grow all our own veggies. I would also really love to have a rose garden like both my grandmothers had ( in Adelaide), but unfortunately the warmer weather here in Queensland doesn’t seem to be a great environment for growing them.
Gardening is fun. I just wish I had more time to do it ;)


Jemajo May 13, 2011 at 18:44

We have very short growing seasons here (outdoors, that is) but my kitchen window is like Kew Gardens to me. I always have herbs growing there, but I cheat…I buy the ready grown ones. I keep them alive and thriving by having the watering can filled with water and some liquid fertilizer next to the tray on the window ledge. That way, the water is always handy and at the same temperature as the herbs. Then pick off only the top outer leaves, the biggest on each stem, and freeze them instantly, crushing them down when they are frozen. During the winter when even the window ledge is too cold and drafty I have fresh herbs in the freezer ready to use.
I envy you your warmth and sunshine in Florida, but if you find the sun too direct, then use some left over lace and make a screen for your plants, indoors or outside. Looks lovely too!


Lucy May 13, 2011 at 19:17

I’m pretty lazy, and only have a tiny patch of garden for vegetables, but I’ve done basil, which is pretty much done for this year, mint (always plant that in a pot because it takes over everything), cherry tomatoes, and I have six broccoli plants that aren’t doing so well. They’re growing, but the only one that’s got a half-decent head is already going to seed. I’m thinking of pulling it out and putting herbs in instead; I’m thinking the parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme group, and maybe some others. We’re coming into winter now here and I’m always so very uninspired this time of year, but herbs might be the thing that gets me more interested. Oh, to own a house and build some raised beds!


Katherine May 13, 2011 at 19:58

Hi Casey!

You’re going to LOVE gardening! There’s nothing like preparing something delicious with the bounty from your own garden.

My advice would be to start small…grow what you love…and don’t be afraid to experiment. For years, I only grew tomatoes and green beans. Then, someone gave me some home-grown broccoli…and I was hooked. Now, one of our four 4 X 8 foot raised beds is entirely broccoli! In addition to the tomatoes, beans and broccoli, I also grow turnips, beets, kohlrabi, spinach, leaf lettuce, green peppers, eggplant and zucchini…as well as rhubarb and strawberries. My favorite veggie is asparagus…but I’ve never been very successful with that one!

I grow mostly perennials on our flower beds…with a few annuals in pots to fill in the gaps. This year, I’m blogging about one of our flower gardens…with plans to show how it changes with the seasons. Stop in for a peek, if you like!



Kat May 13, 2011 at 20:52

I love gardening. Sadly I cant put the effort I wish to in one as we are renting our current place. But I have BIG plans for my future garden. Brick walkways and all. But I love many types of flowers. Dont have that many vegetables and just started an herb section. But one key thing i have learned is fertilizer. I use different kinds but none from the store. 1) Compost. Dirt from the bottom of the compost pile that has been turned a lot is great. 2) Manure. I prefer equine vs bovine. It tends to yeild a better crop in my opinion. Plus if you get the dirt that is directly under the muck pile it is BLACK GOLD. but you have to make sure to no just use these as they are very potent and will burn your seeds. You need to mix them with your current soil. 3) Ash. After shoveling the burn pit out, I will use a little in the garden.


Olivia May 13, 2011 at 21:18

In two months our family is moving out on 60 acers. I have always loved gardening (excluding pulling weeds in the humid North Carolina heat) Anyway, we have allready started planting and composting etc… we have never been able to keep plants alive either, but maybe we can this time. I can’t wait to see how your herb garden turns out!


Liz May 13, 2011 at 21:48

i read “square foot gardening” and that helped me get over my fear of gardening. it’s really more for north of the mason-dixon line, though, in my opinion. that said, mother earth news has really easy to read and follow tutorials about gardening, and my guess is they have region-specific resources too. container gardening is very easy, as you can completely control everything. florida is baking hot, yes, but also humid, which will help with the water retention. your basil should do beautifully!


Mia May 13, 2011 at 22:09

I live in a travel trailer and travel the country all year for work so I have to have somthing small and portable. My boyfriend and I recently (while we were in Florida actually this winter) started our own herbs from seed. Now on our third try ( I fried them in the sun the first try and he forgot to water them the second) things are looking up. I bought some kitchen wall organizers from Ikea ( ) to transplant plant the seedlings into when theyre ready. Theyre gresat cuz I can mount the bar under my window outside and hang the pots from it. You have to think vertically when living in a trailer, and portable as well. When we pack up and head out on the road i can hang the plants from a bar in my van. I also have a small succulent garden that I planted in some clay pots that my grandmother made many years ago. Its hard to go wrong with succulents cuz if you forget to water them they wont die. They therefore also conserve a lot of water. I made a small terrerium (sp?) from a glass vase I found in my grandparents garage, filled it with clover from the yard and stuck a big cork in the top. Its pretty easy to take care of since it kind of takes care of its self. I have a few of my grnadmothers pots filled with pretty perrenial and annual flowers, just ones i thoughts were pretty when iwas at the nursery. My next adventure is to make a portable slasa garden out of plastic milk crates that i have. I want to paint them bright colors, line them with colorful burlap, and fill them with potting soil. I want to plant from tmoatoes, jalapenos, and bell peppers so i can make my own fresh salsas. The milk crates will make it easy to pick up and move the plants when i pack up and head to my next destination. Ive done and plan to do again, strawberries. Theyre good space savers cuz they do really well in hanging baskets.

Anyway… those are my ideas for small spaces and low-maintenance gardening. Thanks for listening and thanks for the great blog. I include it in my daily ritual for inspiration.

Mia : )


Rebecca May 13, 2011 at 23:35

Oh, the gardening gene is definitely something I didn’t inherit from my dad either. Just the other night he was outside planting cucumbers with a flashlight, yes a flashlight. I, on the other hand, recently killed my only plant, a cactus. Good luck on your plants!


Renee May 13, 2011 at 23:53

your plants look great.

I love to garden.


Tipper May 14, 2011 at 01:53

I live in Los Angeles, but luckily I was able to get a plot at the community garden within walking distance from my apartment! Unfortunately I can’t seem to keep anything alive either! Except for lettuce which has sprung up like crazy. I planted tomato plants and strawberry plants yet nothing has happened. I’m wondering if I need to add some sort of vegetable food to get more nutrients or something in the soil. I’m hoping this summer I can get around to planting some more and hopefully growing some more. Please share any tips if you get some good ones, and If I discover anything that starts helping out my garden I will for sure let you know!


nicole May 14, 2011 at 02:42

I couldn’t get past a couple of big spelling errors, so I wanted to help you out: “obstacle”, and “optimist”. :) Although, I can see how quickly typing fingers may have hit the “o” instead of the “i”, when typing “optimistic”. I enjoy your blog, especially your expert sewing tips. Keep up the good work!


Jill May 14, 2011 at 06:38

we have a huuuuuge corner lot in our “new” house, so I’ve HAD to become a rather avid gardener. Our neighbourhood is filled with almost eerily perfect lawns and gardens, so I feel like I need to step up my green thumb game :) Actually, we just put in a little vegetable garden in the backyard and I’ve been enjoying tending it & watching it grow. Put some roses in urns at the side of the house too. Hope they survive!!


Caitlin May 14, 2011 at 07:05

I started a garden with a friend last summer…. My past 2 apartments have had decent-sized backyards, even though I live in a city where outdoor space is very, very rare. We grew a motley, rambling assortment of things, mostly just experiments to see what would grow best: radishes, lettuces, nasturtiums, basil, rosemary, watermelon, strawberries, and tomatoes. The biggest successes were definitely the herbs and tomatoes. Oh, the tomatoes. I had glorious bowls of tomatoes every day for months.

I adore your blog, and can’t wait to see what your gardening adventures bring!


tricia May 14, 2011 at 07:26

we live in southwestern have a decent, room sized terrace behind our house, and for the second year in a row, we have a fairly large sized container garden (roughly 35-45 square feet, between a plethora of large and small pots and planters). last year i grew snap peas, cucumbers (they were INCREDIBLY prolific), cherry tomatoes, patio tomatoes, green peppers, basil, oregano, rosemary, strawberries, thyme, dill, yellow squash, green bush beans, chard, lettuce, though not all at the same time. i am highly likely to be forgetting something, because we grew a lot! almost everything was a success. and it was a REALLY hot summer without a lot of rain. basically, the secret i think to the success was making sure everything was potted correctly, and watered properly and regularly. the terrace gets a LOT of light in the summer…which is another really important factor, i think. plants need and crave light. if you can’t give them enough, it will be tougher for them. and i also fertilized regularly, just to keep things maintained.

this year i started earlier in the spring and have already planted cabbage, onions, snap peas, broccoli, lettuce, chard, radishes, all the herbs listed above plus lavender, and i have a couple tomato plants in already. once the cabbage and onions are done i’ll switch in other plants (succession gardening). not sure what yet, but something. probably cukes again, but maybe even small watermelons! :)

we also got in on a community garden in our town, which is fun. so we have a 20 x 10 plot of land there to garden for the season. we’ve planted yellow squash, a ton of tomatoes and peppers (hot and sweet), celery, chard, and lettuce. it’s an in-ground garden, which is a new experience for us but interesting. we’ll see how it goes! between the patio garden and the community garden (if it’s successful) we should be able to seriously supplement our grocery purchasing if not allay a good deal of it. fingers crossed!

p.s. if you are interested, two of the books i found most helpful were “bountiful container” and “square foot gardening” which both address growing food/edibles in small spaces. it’s easier than you think. good luck!


tricia May 14, 2011 at 07:44

ack, that should have read “southwestern connecticut”. :P


Lacee May 14, 2011 at 08:27

Two things….Lisette, lavender is just a slow grower. Trust me I killed one of my plants last year because it wasn’t established enough to survive the winter months here in Utah. From what I’ve read lavender can take up to 2 – 3 years to bloom. Rule of thumb, if it’s stem has started growing a barky exterior you are in the clear, remember it is a shrub just like rosemary.

Secondly, Casey, I have just the book for you, GARDEN ANYWHERE by Alys Fowler. It’s pretty comprehensive and goes into gardening in all sorts of spaces as well as recycling to create unique containers. My favorite that I have tried so far is hen and chicks growing out of the three holes in a regular masonry brick, it looks pretty cute. Another book you might try, especially with small space is, Container Gardening: 250 Design Ideas & Step-by-Step Techniques by the editors of Fine Gardening, this one starts to incorporate design and form into your gardening.

I’m trying to transform my father-in-law’s ten + years over grown backyard into a healthy comfortable place. I’ve got the green “itch” from my mom who loves gardening and finds it both rewarding and relaxing, and have always wanted a garden for myself. You can check out what I’ve been doing on my blog.
(last garden post is:

Anyway, Casey good luck in your gardening and I hope that you are finding it as rewarding as I am.


Jenny @ Kerrfect! May 14, 2011 at 12:28

Just in case you were interested Casey, The Victory Garden booklet I got from an estate sale starts posting today with part one. I’ll post a new 17 page section every Saturday!


Lauren May 14, 2011 at 23:10

gorgeous little herbs. i think starting small with some hardy plants like basil is the best. i thought i lost my basil a few times last year, but it always bounces back with a little tlc. i have planted a small (and growing) container garden for the past few years. my best success is always my greens. i grow lettuce, arugula, and kale. they are so easy – i start them from seed outdoors usually around mother’s day. keep the soil moist and that’s about it. this year i have planted greens, beets, radish, chives, basil, mint, tomato, jalapeno, lemon verbena, onion, and rosemary. my tomatoes don’t usually produce much. :( i think they are just tempermental.


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