Friday, April 13, 2012

A Beautiful Garden is a Work of Heart

I've been looking into container gardening for a Relief Society activity that I've been planning, and it just really got me itching to grow something despite my limited amount of space. Then, as if I didn't have the gardening itch bad enough, I was lucky enough to win the book "Gardening When it Counts" from a give-away on one of the blogs I follow. I've been reading that book and it's been so fascinating that I honestly have a hard time putting it down. I never knew how much I didn't know about gardening! After checking with the landlords to make sure I understood their policy on gardening in our apartment complex I hit the stores and rounded up a pile of stuff to get me started.
I already said that I've been doing a lot of reading online about container gardening, and it's been really interesting. I realized that for some reason I've always thought that a garden's most important role was to provide enough produce to store for the winter when fresh produce was harder/pricier to come by, as well as to provide fresh produce for your table during the summer. I was trying to figure out how to get all the things I felt I needed to grow into the tiny amount of space I had when I read an interesting article about growing produce with the idea of cutting down on your grocery bill as your first priority, and then any extra food that you could save for the winter is just a bonus. It seems so obvious that I've been wondering if I'm the only one who was thinking about it all backwards. Why use up my limited (and therefore valuable) space growing potatoes, when for about as much money as it would take me to grow them I can buy them at the grocery store. What if instead of potatoes I plant basil, which is EXPENSIVE to buy fresh at the store and will save me tons of money to have growing just outside my door. (Okay, so I don't normally buy fresh herbs, but they taste so yummy I've always wished I could justify it.) I decided to choose what to plant based more on what would be most cost effective than on what would last us all winter or preserve the best. Now of course I have to take into consideration what things we'll actually eat and what will grow well here, but I tried to choose things that will help cut down our food budget. I'm really not sure how well all these things are going to grow here, but I decided it was worth a try. So here we've got some bell peppers and some cherry tomatoes...
Here is an idea I saw on pinterest. We'll see if it works. Now that I've put it all together I'm not convinced that there's enough soil for the plants to really thrive, but we'll see. This may end up being one of pintrosity's more expensive submissions. The website says you can even grow mini tomatoes in here, but I'm just not convinced. I've got two varieties of strawberries, green onions, sweet basil, oregano, and flat leaf parsley. I've only filled every-other pocket so that as the plants get bigger they don't smother each other. As you can see this is hanging on the stair rails that go up to the apartment above ours. I've got the bottom row of pockets (which I left empty) folded so it's laying flat on the ground, and I've got repurposed milk jugs full of water sitting on the fabric to (hopefully) keep it from flapping around in the wind.
Last, but not least, I used this information to develop a plan to grow peas, summer squash, and cucumbers, despite the fact that peas need something to climb and squash and cukes are large sprawling plants. I started by running strong twine through the drainage holes in the bottom of my planters before filling them with soil, then I tied the top of the strings to the stair rail. I will have to spend some time (maybe even every day) training my plants up the strings, but according to everything I read the plants should still thrive growing this way. I'm a little worried about having a tall enough area for the vines to grow up, but if I moved them further up the stair rail then they didn't get enough sun. I'll just have to deal with that problem when I get there. Also growing in the large pots with my cukes and squash, I've got carrot seeds planted. We'll see what happens!
I'm so excited to see how all my little plants do. I really wanted to grow some New Mexico style green chili, I would've been willing to dedicate a lot of space to that, but the only chili plants or seeds I was able to find were for extra hot chilies and I DO NOT do hot. Maybe someone from NM will see this, take pity on me, and send me a packet of seeds, then my garden will be complete.


  1. Good for you! I'm so proud of you for trying this - I hope it is a successful experience. I just downloaded a document from the Benson Institute website about container gardening. I haven't studied it yet, but it looks interesting. Thanks for the tip about the book.

  2. We still need to do our garden, but I'm glad I didn't start it yet as it snowed today and is going to freeze again tonight. :| I always thought of a garden the same as you, I hadn't ever thought of it as a grocery budget zapper. I like that idea!

    1. Did you check out the website I got that article from? I loved the little chart they had the showed what each type of plant was worth.