Are you a veggie virgin?

herbs-spices-peppers-home-garden_w725_h544Do you think you can’t grow anything because your space is too limited and everything you put in dirt dies? Nonsense!

You can produce an edible harvest on a window ledge, balcony, or that strip of land between the sidewalk and street. If you’ve never grown anything beyond a cactus before, here are a few steps you can take to insure success:

1. Determine where you have space. You may be able to place a few pots on a balcony, patio, or plant a window box. Most herbs take very little space and can be mixed with other plants. Seed companies are even breeding some plants, like tomatoes, specifically to be planted in hanging baskets.

2. Determine your USDA Hardiness Zone. This will tell you when it’s safe to plant outdoors. It will also give you an idea of what plants grow best in the cooler temperatures early or late in the season, and which ones you can grow in the hottest months of July and August. Here in Baltimore, we are in zone 7A. Our planting year begins in March. You can plant spinach, turnips, radishes, lettuces and peas outside around March 15. You can get a jump start on tomatoes, peppers and eggplants by starting them indoors. You can find your USDA zone here:

3. Figure out how much sun you get. You don’t need full sun all day for all vegetables. Here’s a little rhyme to help you figure out what to plant: “If you grow it for the root or fruit, you need full sun. If you grow it for the leaves, partial shade is all you need.” Most edible plants need at least partial shade of 2 to 4 hours a day to thrive. However, you may find that your sunny spring spot turns shady as the year progresses and the trees around you leaf out in full.

Those are the essentials for growing vegetables if you are a Veggie Virgin. Keep your plants watered, but don’t drown them. Harvest when ready and they will produce more as the season goes on.

What are the easiest vegetables to grow? Greens and herbs. Using a container about sixteen inches in diameter (make sure it has drainage holes) you can plant 1 parsley, 3 chives, 1 thyme, 1 rosemary or sage (these will come back next year) and a mixture of 3 or 4 lettuce plants.

Here’s a link for more tips and ideas for gardening in small city spaces.

Sharon Rabb
Project Specialist
Campaign Consultation, Inc.

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Sharon Rabb

Sharon Rabb lives in a row-house in the heart of Baltimore City, but manages to find space for a thriving garden. She battles limited space to produce a lush paradise. Anything larger than a teaspoon is a chance to make the city a greener place to live. Read her gardening tips here. Read more.

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