We planted a garden this past spring, and it has been AMAZING! Watching your plants grow and food ripen, picking fresh tomatoes to snack on, and having your own organic herbs for your cooking – it just can’t be beat! Tasty, convenient (I always have fresh herbs for whatever dish I am cooking), healthy (I only use organic soil, fertilizer, pest, and disease control), and great for your mental health. It’s rewarding and fun. Not everything will blossom (believe me, I have a green thumb on one hand, but a black one on the other), but plant a lot and you won’t have to worry about a plant or two not working out.
I have most of my garden outside, but I have a few things inside – mostly herbs that I had a hard time growing outside and some seeds I wanted to start inside to give them a better start before transplanting them to the great outdoors.
First things first, get organic soil for your garden. I like the Miracle-Gro Performance Organics Raised Bed Mix – Organic and Natural Ingredients, Potting Soil Blended for Raised Bed Gardening, Grow More Vegetables, Flowers and Herbs.
If you are a first time gardener, here are some tools I recommend.
Thick Kneeling Pad for Gardening
Garden Shovel – Heavy Duty Carbon Steel Gardening Hand Trowel
The Gardener’s Friend Pruners, Ratchet Pruning Shears, Garden Tool, for Weak Hands
Touchscreen Capable Medium-Duty Nitrile Work Gloves – 3 Pair
Bamboo Stakes – I use three of these to make a pyramid for vines (such as cucumber or cantaloupe) to grow up.
Jute Twine – use this to tie your bamboo stakes together or to tie your gangly vines and branches.
Labels – use a permanent marker on these to help you remember what you planted where. I have tried the wooden versions of these. They didn’t last. So I use these plastic ones instead.
Fertilizers and More
Dr. Earth Natural Wonder Organic Fruit Tree Fertilizer – I personally fertilize every three weeks. This becomes more or less depending on the time of year.
Dr. Earth Organic 5 Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Fertilizer
In Ground Compost – I have tried the rotating compost option. It is SO gross. So I came across these which are WAY better. They go in the ground. Worms move throughout them to spread the love (nutrients) around.
Bonide CAPTAIN JACK’S Neem Oil for Pest Control – use this on your plants that bugs like to munch on. I personally spray weekly.
Bonide Fungal Disease Control, Fung-onil – if you have any plants that have black spots, white mold, or yellow spots (not overwatering yellow), this spray will solve your problems!
Bonide Caterpillar and Worm Killer, Bacillus Thuringiensis – I don’t want to kill any caterpillars. However, last year, caterpillars COVERED my orange tree and ate everything. I relocated all of them because I didn’t want to kill anyone. But this spring, I am going to spray the orange tree to deter caterpillars to prevent that from being an issue again.
You will want to plant everything in the spring or fall. Winter and summer are stressful on plants, so they should be established before they have to face those conditions.
I prefer organic seeds for my gardening. You can easily start seeds any time of the year in your indoor garden (see more below.) If the weather is already warm, start seeds out in your garden – they typically only take a few days to pop up. So fun to watch plants grow from seeds! If you don’t have patience for that, you can get many plants at your local nursery (though they might not be organic, you can at least start using organic growing methods once you plant them.)
Herbs – there are tons of herbs you can choose from. These are ones that I have successfully grown myself (I am in Houston, Texas, so not all will work for your location) and use regularly in my culinary endeavors.
- Bee balm
- Sage (needs plenty of water)
- Thyme (needs some shade)
Veggies – again, tons of veggies to choose from. Use what you will cook, plant more than you will use. Some will not survive. Some will produce slowly (or less than you can use.) So it’s good to have a large quantity and a large variety of vegetables. Here are some that I have had great success with.
- Peppers (jalapeno and red, yellow, green)
- Tomatoes (cherry and large)
- Green beans
- Swiss chard
Fruit – yet again, more varieties than I can mention, but here are a few that I have found easy to grow. You may want to get trees that are already flowering. Otherwise, it might be a few years before your seeds grow into a plant that will produce.
I initially started an indoor garden because there were a few plants that I just could not get to grow outside. I also wanted to grow some microgreens and be able to start seeds during the summer and winter.
What I did was set up a cart with grow lights (clip lights for the top level, and panels attached to the bottom of the first and second tier to light up the second and third tier). Here is what you will need.
Clip Timer Auto Grow Lights – these LED lights are set on a timer, so they automatically turn on each morning and off each evening. Clip them to the top of the cart to light up that top tier.
Panels Timer Auto Grow Lights – these are also set on a timer. I used zip ties to attach them to the underside of the first and second tiers of my cart to light the second and third tiers of my plants.
Multiplug Outlet Extender – you will need this to fit all your lights into one outlet.
Elephant Watering Can – you can use any watering can for watering your plants, but I think this little guy is just too cute:)
Mister Spray Bottle – every few days, I mist my plants. I figure outside, they would get the morning dew, so they need something like that inside.
2-Pack Seed Sprouter Tray BPA Free – I use these trays to start seeds and grow microgreens. You will soak your seeds first, then plan in soil or leave on the tray to grow. You can seed flowers for future planting outside, grow a crop of microgreens to put on your salad… so many possibilities.
Glass Jars – I have my plants in glass jars. I think they look pretty, and it offers lots of room for the roots to grow. Toss the lids.
Plants – here are some of the plants I have been growing inside. On the chives, lettuce, and celery, what I do is stuff the bottom of the plants into soil once I have cut the tops off for eating. Essentially, I regrow whatever I initially bought from the grocery store.
- Chives (from cuttings)
- Lettuce (from cuttings)
- Celery (from cuttings)
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