At The Landing at Briarcliff we’re happy to offer a coop garden, but even if you weren’t able to snag a plot this year (or if your apartment complex doesn’t have a garden space) you can still enjoy fresh herbs and produce grown yourself! While we’re still not completely out of the woods regarding frost risk, the rising temperatures bring feelings of springtime, growth, and gardening. Before you start planting, do a quick online search to find out your planting zone (here’s ours in Kansas City) to make sure you know when to plant and what kinds of herbs and produce will do well. While you’re online you can also look up inspiration for potting groupings, vertical gardens, and over-the-railing pots, as well as what vegetables can thrive in a smaller growth environment if you want to go past a basic herb garden.
1. Location and Sunlight – Once you have a basic idea of what you want to plant you should assess your patio or balcony to make sure what you’re thinking will work. How much space do you have to work with? What about sunlight? Many herbs can do well with six or fewer hours of direct sunlight per day, but many vegetables and flowers require much more. On the other side of the coin, some plants need partial shade so if your space is constantly in the sun you may need to rethink things or get an umbrella.
2. The Supplies – Once you have a game plan you can start purchasing supplies. Think about the pots and planters you want to use and what’s available. Do you need to get a table or other surface or will you be putting the planter straight on the ground? Obviously, you will want to get something that looks nice, but you also need to think about sensibility and practicality to ensure it works best for the space. You’ll also want to get plenty of good quality potting soil and, unless you want to dirty a kitchen spoon, a hand spade.
3. The Plants – While it can be very tempting to grow your plants from seeds, it’s usually best to start with seedlings. You’ll have a better chance of your plants surviving and thriving that way, and you won’t have to worry about starting over mid-season if the seeds don’t take off. Seedlings are available many places, from the local farmers market to chain hardware stores, so you should be able to find any type of plant you want without any issues. Make sure to keep any tags that come with the plants! Those contain vital information such as planting depth and distance from other plants as well as water and sunlight requirements.
4. Planting – Now that you have your supplies and plants (and you’re sure it won’t frost again!) it’s time for the fun part! Fill the planters nearly all the way with soil, but make sure to leave space and create wells for the plants. Gently remove the seedlings from their containers, careful not to damage the roots or stems, and loosen the roots if they’re balled up to encourage growth. Place the plant in the well you made then fill in the space around the well and roots with more soil. Pat down lightly and water generously.
5. Maintenance and Harvesting – Research how to harvest your herbs and veggies, as well as how much care they need prior to harvesting. Remember that some plants need more water than others, and some may need regular pruning. For example, herbs like basil and mint should be trimmed once they reach a certain height to ensure growth and fullness. Keep in mind that you may not use the herbs right away, so it’s also a good idea to learn about drying and other preservation options.
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