One hobby I have taken up is gardening. I live in a condo with no backyard so my “gardening” is limited to a small balcony. Maintaining a garden may seem far from hassle free, however I have experimented with different ways to make it work, and have along the way learned some inexpensive ways to keep my plants healthy while helping the environment along the way.
In the above picture I have mint, basil, and green onions; all of which are very easy to grow. Here are some things I’ve learned about growing them.
1) On the bottom left corner you may see a basil stem in a jar. That jar is filled with water, and since then has grown roots and I’ve successfully planted it as its own basil plant. The cutting had originally come from the big plant and using cuttings is an easy way to grow basil. I’ve also read you can do this with fresh basil bought from the store.
2) Pruning basil properly is essential to encourage growth. Snipping basil leaves one by one will quickly diminish the basil plant to nothing. Doing a little research on how to properly harvest basil goes a long way.
3) Mint grows like a weed. Make sure to plant mint in a pot and not a backyard garden. It is otherwise very easy to grow and it grows very plentifully.
4) Green onions are great plants. After I used up a bunch of green onions I purchased for 50 cents at the grocery store, I stuck the ends in dirt and in the summer I watched it grow about an inch a day. It grows so fast and it is so useful. There are other things that can be planted using this method. I believe chives are one of them.. anything that resembles scallions can probably be grown this way. Leeks are another that comes to mind.
5) You may notice that the white containers that the green onions are in may not match the flower pots. This is a great tip I learned. Many bakeries, pool supply stores, restaurants, etc. often get various materials in these buckets and then throw them out. All you have to do from saving them from going to waste is pop into your local bakery and ask them if they have any of these plastic buckets that they were going to otherwise throw out. Oftentimes they have some to spare and it works great as a planter. 5 gallon buckets are perfect for tomatoes and if you want a fun DIY project, you can make your own Self Watering Container out of some 5 gallon buckets.
6) Some of the best fertilizers for these plants are very accessible. Coffee grounds, tea leaves, and egg shells are great fertilizers. Starbucks is required to provide their used coffee grounds to anyone who asks for them, so it is easy to just pop into a Starbucks and get some (this comes in handy for me since I’m a non coffee drinker).
I have tried to take the easiest approach when it comes to gardening in my limited space. If you have more time on your hands, you may find inspirations from things such as this “Salad Bar” or making your own self watering containers, both of which take a little more time but are good in small spaces. Some have even taken on experimenting with maintaining a compost pile in their apartments. I’m currently trying to grown a basil plant in a “Pop Bottle.” Pop Bottles may be a quick and easy way to start up your herb plant. Enjoy!