It’s growing tomatoes and chiles for me!
Have you guys planted a garden? How is it going?
Last week I was basking in the Florida sun. It was as amazing as it sounds. The weather in DC has dipped to 52 degrees and up to 89 in the past four days. I don’t really know what is going on.
Going home is definitely my favorite part about going to Florida. I love seeing all the familiar faces, trees, and plants that I grew up with. We did have a new addition to our home this year with my mom’s kitchen garden.
Guys, this thing is impressive! My mom started this only a month earlier with baby seedlings and with some TLC and lots of Florida sun they have grown SO big so fast. Not going to lie, I’m kind of jealous of the ideal gardening conditions.
Let me show you around my mom’s garden.
There are chives, that my mom is trying to tame with some rubber bands, haha.
And lots of fruit trees as well. Growing up, we had huge orange and guava trees that we would play around. I remember picking off perfectly chilled oranges in the late winter/early spring and eating them right off the tree. Nothing can beat that kind of freshness. These days, after many sick trees and freezes, we have a new batch of trees and the variety seems bigger than before. Let me show you what we have.
Curry pata tree.
Pomelo trees. Also called chacutray in Pushto. My grandfather used to have a tree like this in the courtyard of his village home and the children (my mom + friends) used to scheme how to steal the delicious fruit.
We have many kinds of beautifully scented jasmine flowers around too. The air smells like citrusy fragrant perfume. Intoxicating.
I am happy to report that my garden is not only growing since last month but it’s really thriving! It is such a pleasure watching these baby plants grow into food fodder.
I jokingly give my friends a garden tour of my balcony when they visit. I thought for today’s post I’ll give you a virtual garden tour. Follow me…
First, I have my garden in same position as it was before. It is on south-facing balcony which is a blessing because it gets lots of sunlight on a gorgeous day like today.
Let me show you what a month of sunshine and water can do for a garden…
Mints last month…
Thyme, flat-leaf parsley, and curly parsley (my parsley babies weren’t growing so I did purchase parsley plants from Whole Foods and planted them – didn’t want to give you a false sense of parsley growth. Those suckers didn’t do so well after they were transplanted.) last month…
I added tomato cages around the tomato plants. They do not need it yet because there is no fruit, but I figured if I was going to be inserting spikes of cages into the ground of really developed plants I would harm the roots. I thought that by doing it now I would give the roots an opportunity to grow around the cages.
I’ve also been helping the tomatoes grow tall and straight by using garden ties and securing them loosely to the cages. I want to train the plants to grow vertically because I don’t have a huge garden, obviously. I also planted my basil plants around the base of the tomato cages that will fill up nicely at the base. I’ve already had to trim off buds to the basil plants. These guys want to bloom and go bitter on me so quickly. I’m keeping them in check with pruning the flowers though.
Also, because I am a bad plant mom, I accidentally lopped off one of my strongest growing basil offshoots. Instead of using it, I decided to experiment with some plant rooting. I stuck the basil piece in some water and kept it on my windowsill for five days, and kept checking and changing the water every other day and low and behold, I had new roots! I planted the plant and so far it’s thriving. I’ll keep you updated on it’s progress, but I’m pretty proud of this little cutey.
Have you guys planted a garden? How is it coming along?
Also, have you signed up for the Zoku giveaway yet? If no, make sure you do!
This past weekend I planted my seedlings. They had taken all the nutrition they could out of their little bitty Jiffy pods. It was wonderful weather, even though it’s a bit chilly right now, but I think my plants will survive this *hopefully* last cold snap.
For my planters, I am using the Burgon and Ball willow planter that I purchased from Williams-Sonoma at the end of the season sale last year. They are packed and can be stored flat so they were perfect to tuck away until I needed them.
The ones that came with the planter were black but not very strong so I opted to use my own strong ties, they are clear so you can see them more, but I know they will hold my plants and grow bags securely so I am not too worried about that. These willow planters look beautiful on my balcony. They are an elegant touch and upgrade to many of the balcony gardens in the past. I really enjoy the planters and am sad that Williams-Sonoma no longer carries them, but you can find them on Amazon – willow planter.
I also purchased two wooden planters to anchor my set of three plants and to use for my chilis and mint. I purchased these at Home Depot. Every Home Depot will have different inventory, so I would suggest purchasing something with a clean aesthetic and that match the planters that you plan on using. I felt that these matched well so I was happy to pick them up.
When beginning to plant your garden, you should map out where you want your plants and do some research as to how big they grow. Typically, grow the larger and taller plants towards the back of the planter or your garden and work your way to ground dwelling plants towards the front. That way it won’t look like a complete jungle when they are all grown up and doing well. I’ll explain my thought process for planting when going over each planter as well.
First, mint. My mint plants that I grew as seeds did not grow at all, which was sad, but thankfully I knew that I could purchase mint and that it would grow very quickly, so I was not worried. When planting mint, you can grow different kinds of mint together, but dedicate a separate planter to mint, they will take over everything if you allow them to grow with other herbs or vegetables.
Second, I have my tomatoes and basil. Ina Garten has a phrase “what goes together, grows together” and I applied that here. There is nothing more summer than a caprese salad so I took that opportunity to lump my tomatoes and basil together. The tomato plants will grow tall and I have tomato cages waiting to trail them up as they get bigger and the basil plants will bush around the bases of the tomato plants. I have staggered them so that this will *hopefully* be the case. They look sad here because the plants are still babies and I had recently watered them so they kind of got knocked around, but with todays sun I know they will perk up again.
Next, I have my thyme and parsley planter. This planter doesn’t look so hot right now, but I am hoping with a little TLC it will be my star and most utilized planter. My English thyme (the top of the box) that I planted from seeds doesn’t look like it’s doing so well next to its two purchased counterparts, and I will give it a few days to perk up, but if it doesn’t look like it is able to, I might have to find and purchase an English thyme plant or just leave that space open for the other thyme plants to grow. Thyme is a ground grazing plant so it doesn’t need a lot of soil underneath to root to, but it will grow into hugeee mounds. It is quite amazing how sun and water is all something needs to provide us sustenance. Underneath the thyme I have six parsley seedlings. These I planted and although they are babies and looking weak, I am seeing that some stems are perking up. Planting them into soil is a bit of a shock so I will monitor these but even though they look very sad, there are a few stalks that are upright and soaking in the sun. I have high hopes for these babies.
In my last willow planter, I have a mix of herbs and vegetables. I don’t know how this is going to work, but I will keep an eye on them and prune and take out some seedlings as needed. I think I got excited planting zucchini and squash and can see that they will quickly take over my garden. I have put in the stakes that I purchased with the planters and additional pikes to trail the zucchini and squash plants up and away. At the top I have three kinds of herbs, ranging from the ones that grow the tallest and most wild, to the the more tame. In the back I have dill which grows tall and frilly, in the middle I have oregano, which I don’t use a lot in cooking but since I planted it in seeds, I might as well have planted it, and because my chives didn’t do so great when I planted them with seeds, I purchased a chive plant. Underneath, I have zucchini and squash plants around the perimeter of the planter so I can trail upwards and eggplant and cucumber in the middle. This planter will definitely need a lot of plant food.
Thanks for checking out my mini garden, I will update you on their progress. As they grow, I will prune them to keep them in check and in shape. I didn’t do that the last time I had a garden and it was overwhelming. This time, I will do better. I’ll show you how I do this when the time comes!
I love gardening. Is that weird? I’ve loved it ever since I was little. I remember running through our yard while my parents fiddled with our orange, guava and persimmon trees. Gardening has helped me connect with the food that I make by realizing how long it takes to grow a vegetable or herb and to not waste all the effort and time that went into it’s growth.
This spring, I couldn’t wait for the weather to change to start my hobby so I took it upon myself to grow a garden from seeds. I hadn’t done that before and solely relied on plants purchased from non-big warehouse store nurseries. The plants from a local nursery are a few pennies more but usually result in an overall more healthy plant. So far, growing my own seedlings has been a very satisfying project. Taking time (and I mean five minutes) to plant a seed, give it water occasionally and watch it sprout into a plant that will bring you sustenance is an amazing work of God and the universe.
Even though I live in an apartment in an urban environment, I still find ways to grow a small garden on my balcony ever year. I love cooking and the yield from one small garden is more than enough to keep you, your friends, and your neighbors happily fed throughout the summer. It really is a beautiful thing. Also, it’s a fun hobby that will save you money! The greenhouse kit costs around $5.00 and each seed packet costs around $2.00. There are obviously more than one seed per packet, so if you wanted to, you could yield multiple plants of each kind. For my first try, I only grew three of each variety and shared the seeds with a friend who loves gardening as well. Sharing is caring!
I planted an array of peppers, lettuces, zucchini, squash, tomatoes and herbs. My tomatoes, zucchini, and squash plants were my fastest growers so I transplanted them to a Burgon and Ball greenhouse that I purchased from Williams Sonoma. I didn’t realize that winter was a guest that had overstayed it’s welcome and wasn’t going to leave easy. It snowed a few times after I planted them outside, and not surprisingly, the zucchini, squash, and lettuce plants didn’t fare so well.
In my garden I have planted jalapeños, habenero peppers, big thai chili peppers, lettuce (which has since succumbed to the snow), cherry tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, roma tomatoes, zucchini, squash, flat-leaf parsley, curly parsley, oregano, thyme, sweet basil, globe basil, rosemary, chives, dill, spearmint, and cilantro. These are the herbs and vegetables (remember: tomato is a fruit because it has seeds! always tripped me up) that I will use up the most this coming summer.
To get your own herb garden I suggest you purchase a Jiffy 72 plant seed starter greenhouse. I purchased mine from Walmart and also went through their selection of seeds to customize my garden.
I planted my seeds two months ago and now have beautiful seedlings that are waiting for the weather to stabilize before going outside.
I even replanted my tomato and zucchini plants. They grow quick and you can see them in the back of this photo. I purchased another greenhouse to incubate and grow the seedlings. These are about six days old. Yeah, it’s crazy. Someone really wants me to eat zucchini and squash.
It’s not the most face paced hobby but I really love it.
Rehana loves to cook and share her favorite recipes and tips about beauty, home, and life really with all of you. Enjoy!