Friday, April 12, 2013

Urban Gardening for Earth Day Update

Just when I thought I had completely failed at growing anything at all, I was shocked and delighted to come into work on Wednesday to find tiny green sprouts emerging from the soil! What an amazing sight! Here I go again being cheesy, but the sense of pride and self-satisfaction you get knowing that you made a living thing grow is greater that buying the most amazing herbs at the world’s best farmer’s market. Based on that statement, it’s probably easy to guess that I don’t have kids. Thus far, basil and sweet peas are both about a half an inch to two inches tall, while cilantro has yet to sprout, and parsley is just barely above the dirt.

In an effort to aid anyone who is inspired to grow an indoor garden, I figured I’d share some of my trials and tribulations. For starters, the water bottles(an excellent green choice for a seed starter) were much more difficult to cut holes in the bottom of than I thought. Be careful! After trying all kinds of tools, I ended up using a pushpin on the sides of the bottles near the bottom. Make sure you puncture a lot of holes for proper drainage. Each container, be it plastic, paper, or terracotta drains very differently, so watering is likely not consistent for each individual plant container. Also, I found that for seed growing, the wider the container the better. The one that reigns supreme, in my opinion, for seed starting is the egg carton. It seems to provide the perfect separation for seeds, and makes it easy if you’re starting more than one plant in the carton.

Just so I wouldn’t be devastated if nothing actually grew, I purchased an Aloe plant and a couple colorful and interesting terrarium plants from the Union Square Farmers Market. The Aloe plant is as hardy as it is useful, and perfect to have around in the beach-going season if you tend to burn like I do! Succulents are excellent, low-maintenance plants to have around, indoors or out, just be sure not to water them too much.

As for the terrarium plants, I purchased them without having really thought about planting a terrarium. I just saw small terrariums at the market and thought they looked awesome. After researching these cool little ecosystems, I just couldn’t resist! Based on my findings, you can use pretty much any glass container to build yours in. You will also need rocks, or fired clay pellets, and or activated charcoal pieces to put in the bottom under the soil for drainage. Make sure to check out which terrarium plants like shade and which like a lot of sun and locate yours accordingly. Learn from my mistake and pick a glass container larger than what you think you’ll need(my pasta sauce jar did not suffice).

Now that it seems like I’m on the right track with the plants, I will keep you updated as they grow. This urban gardening endeavor has already proven to be an excellent way to celebrate Earth Day! I encourage you to give it a try, or tell me about your garden!

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