I am an amateur gardener. I’m no Floret Flowers, who made their career growing plants and flowers. Honestly, I knew little to nothing about gardening at first.
Thankfully, Elizabeth came to the rescue. She knows how to properly grow plants through an interest in botany and years working in the family garden growing produce, flowers, trees, and bushes. I, on the other hand, have years of practice making everyone lunch and drinks while they tended the yard. Anything to avoid the blistering Georgia summer heat.
Let’s just say we all have our strengths.
In the end, with her help, I have started a successful little garden and I would love to help you start one too! As I continue to gain experience and grow my new found passion, I want to help beginners like myself get started.
My interest in gardening grew naturally through my love of cooking. Though I didn’t have a passion in the past, I have gained a lot of interest in growing what I eat. As I read more about what I’m putting in my body and the production of food in America, my desire to understand where my food came from increased into what it is today. Now I have a garden!
Late this summer, we put together the beginnings of a patio garden. We currently call our little tiny apartment garden our ‘kimchi garden.’ I wanted to start growing the ingredients necessary to making kimchi that aren’t always available in the grocery store. This includes produce such as napa cabbage and Korean radish, all of which we will harvest in the late fall.
We also planted chives, garlic, and rosemary. Come spring, we will continue to expand, and add variety.
Once harvested, we will attempt to make kimchi again this winter! Our first attempt was a good effort, but didn’t come out as well as we had hoped. We cannot wait to continue developing our own family kimchi recipe. For now, we are just watching our garden grow!
To start a small porch garden, you first need supplies! We shopped for all the necessities at our local nursery, garden supplies store, and amazon.
So, let’s get started on your patio garden!
Picking your Seeds
Seeds are easy to find at nurseries, garden supplies stores, and amazon. We happened to buy ours on Amazon because the Korean seed types are hard to find elsewhere. Before you buy your anything, you need to do some research!
Step 1: Learn about your growing zone.
Each area of the United States, and the world for that matter, has a growing zone. Zoning is how you can distinguish if a plant will grow in your area or not. Finding out your zone is easy!
We live in Charlottesville, Virginia which is zone 7a!
We will discuss more about hardiness and zoning in later blog posts.
Step 2: Decide what you want to grow based on the season.
I know that you are excited to start your garden. It took me months to build up my nerve to get started. Even if you are excited and want to start growing tomatoes now, it’s currently October and the season for those have ended. Winter is coming guys (holla Game of Thrones fans)! Instead, research about what you can plant in your zone for the given month you are in. Honestly, there is a lot of contradicting information on the internet. I spent hours trying to gain the proper growing instructions.
I then went to the National Gardening Association website. On their website, there is a section where you can type in your “city, country” or “city, state” to find information about what to plant at what time. It is a great resource!
Next, you need to buy planters!
When buying planters, you need to look for a few necessary traits.
Firstly, identify the maximum growth size of your plant. If your plant grows into a 4 foot wide bush, you can’t fit it in a 5 in. pot. If a pot is too small, a plant can become root bound and have stunted growth. Most seed packages will indicate how far apart seeds need to be planted. Follow these guidelines, and your plants will properly grow to their fullest potential.
Secondly, your planter needs proper drainage. Plants can actually die from having too much water, otherwise known as being waterlogged or root rot. For this reason, check the bottom of your planter or pot for a hole. It needs to have one!
Finally, you may not think this is necessary, but I believe the planter needs to also look aesthetically pleasing. Do you like how it looks? Then buy it! If you hate how it looks, you’ll still hate it with a plant in it.
I personally could not find planters I liked at the local nursery/garden supplies store. In the end, I ordered my planters online.
Studying Up On What Your Plants Need
Each and every plant has its own preferred growing conditions. Some like a humid environment with loose packed soil (like an orchid), while others prefer loamy soil that drains well (rosemary). It is important to buy the proper supplies for the plants you pick. Once again, you can buy all of your supplies at a local community garden shop, amazon, or a chain store such as a Home Depot or Lowes.
You can read about your plant on the back of a seed packet or online! It is all about that research, research, research!!
What we needed for our choice of plants:
We placed a layer of mid-sized rock and pea gravel at the bottom of all of our planters. This way, there will be better drainage. You do not want your plants to drown! Our garlic is a bulb plant and the radish is a root plant. As a result, both can get root rot if there is too much moisture buildup. As always, research and learn about the plants you decide to grow!
We needed soil for all of our plants. We filled each planter to the top with rich, earthy soil before planting each seed.
We only needed sand for one of our plants. Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean. It like a lot of light, very little moisture, and well-draining dirt. We mixed the soil and sand together. The soil to sand ratio was 2-to-1. For those planting rosemary like us, remember that a young rosemary plant needs to be watered every three days (at most) and when matured, every two weeks.
Your Gardening tools
Last but not least, you will need gardening tools! For a small patio garden, you will not need many. We only needed:
Some people like wearing gardening gloves, some people hate it. I personally don’t like wearing gloves unless I am pulling weeds. Thankfully, with planters, you will not have a bunch! Gloves help protect your hands from the wear and tear of gardening. It also saves you from scrubbing dirt out from under your nails.
When planting, I love feeling the dirt in my hands!
You will definitely need a watering can. We all need to hydrate. Plants do too! Get a can that won’t be too heavy for you to lift when filled with water.
You can also set up a sprinkler system or use a hose if one is available to you, however, we fill our watering can in the kitchen sink because we do not have an available hose in our apartment complex.
You will need a small shovel or spade to help plant your seeds. These tools will also be useful when digging up your plants at the end of the season!
Well, there you have it. This is your guide to starting a patio garden. We will continue with this garden series and expand into how to plant seeds, reading the seed packets, and more. As for now, you know everything you will need to start gardening! We hope that you enjoy growing what you eat as much as we do. After all, a healthy body helps make a healthy mind!
Above all, we would love to hear from you! Comment below about your garden, send us your photos on any of our social media links or hashtag #carvingajourney :
@carvingajourney on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest!
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Thank you for the great article. I’m looking to start one on my condo patio. I like the planters you chose.