Where Does Your Garden Grow?

The good news is that Joe and I started on our garden.

The bad news is that the backyard is still a hot mess.

Our landlord has plans to burn a bunch of twigs/branches/brush and mix all that ash into the soil in the flower beds.  This would be okay if the existing soil didn’t look like a mini dust bowl going on.  Basically, no amount of ash or TLC is going to save the soil in the garden.  It’s dry and sad, although not sad enough to keep away garden snakes.

I’m not entirely sure that the ash will add much of anything to the soil but this is how our landlord has done it for some time.  My skepticism on his technique is probably a result seeing most of last year’s crops go bad before they were picked (because we couldn’t find them), as is evident from this photo taken at the end of last season.

Yep.  The garden was a mess last year, too.  The current state of the garden has led Joe and I to seriously start thinking about getting a planter… maybe we can hang outside one of our kitchen windows or maybe on the fire escape out back.  Both are totally plausible.

But how can we start our garden if we haven’t gotten a planter yet and the backyard is still under construction?

I’m glad you asked.

Joe and I have started planting inside!

To make our temporary indoor garden we used some eco-planters (you can plant them in the soil when you’re ready to move them outside) and some potted soil mix that we’ve had for at least a year.  So far, things have been going well.  At the moment, we’re currently only growing basil and parsley.  I’d like to take a shot at mint and maybe grab a strawberry or tomato plant we can hang in our spare room (there’s already plant hooks on the ceiling!).

We tried planting some basil that Joe had picked up from the grocery store that’s sadly no longer with us.  I think it lasted for maybe 2 days before we had to toss it.  We’ve also moved the garlic over here so it can get a lot of sun.  Joe and I also came to the realization that we were both watering the garlic (oops) so it’s currently in recovery mode.  We’ll see what happens with that…

When we started about a week ago, we planted the basil and parsley.  I put five seeds in each container and kind of just hoped they would grow.  I’ve also been sure to water them whenever the soil dries out which currently means about every-other-day.

Oh, and those cute little tags?  I just used some extra paint swatches, my calligraphy pen, and a toothpick to make each one.  It was a five-minute project but I think it makes everything look cuter, especially while we were waiting for the plants to grow.

In addition to the herbs, I also added our succulent to the window sill.  This thing continues to grow like crazy (check out the first photo of our garden to see how nuts it is) even when I forget to water it.  Seriously.  I don’t even remember the last time I watered this guy.  Clearly, I am stuck with it forever (maybe I should give it a proper name?) but my intentions were to have it be a positive role model for the herbs.  Maybe encourage the garden to grow.

Hey, if talking to plants is supposed to help them grow, then maybe they’ll do well if they talk amongst themselves.

Turns out, my scheming worked.  The basil, which is next to our succulent, started to grow.  It was the most exciting think I’ve seen all week.  It’s definitely reassuring to know that we’re doing things correctly (I got nervous we were over-watering) and at some point we’ll have an unlimited supply of basil!  I’m already thinking up ways to use it all.

Some other good news is that the fig tree has started to bloom.  Well, it’s more good news for Joe since he loves figs.  I’m not a fan of them but i do like having a fruit tree outside.  My parents have a plum tree at their house and I’ve decided that I would like a lemon tree whenever Joe and I get a house.  I will be a lemonade-making machine.

Have you had any luck planting store-bought herbs?  Maybe you’ve started your garden indoors, too?  What are you currently growing (or plan to grow)?  Any recommendations to name our succulent?

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  • http://www.alittlebiteofeverything.com Ainhoa

    The tags are adorable! We had great luck with a store-bought basil plant last year. The plant cost 1.50€ and it gave tons and tons of basil throughout the summer. It died in the winter so we’re planning on buying another one soon.

  • http://www.madeinmorningside.blogspot.com Ashleigh

    Everyone is planting at the moment. I just planted our window boxes in the kitchen with flowers, and a couple of weeks ago we planted tomatoes from seeds. The tomatoes are sprouting now which is so exciting! We also have a chilli plant from last year that is finally starting to grow a chilli! But I tried to do the spring onion thing that is everywhere on pinterest and it didn’t work :-( Might try the garlic, did you just plant a bulb of it? xox

  • http://oklahomapepplers.blogspot.com Holly P.

    My husband and I grow basil. We have so much of it now we don’t know what to do with it. So thanks to pinterest we found a great way to store extra basil and keep it fresh. Cut your basil leaves (we use herb scissors) into small pieces and fill ice cube trays with them. Once you have packed as much basil as possible into each little cube, add a small amount of water and freeze! We keep our “basil cubes” in a ziploc in the freezer. All we have to do when making sauces or marinades is add in an ice cube or two and you have instant fresh tasting basil!

    • http://popcornonthestove.wordpress.com Kristen

      That is a clever idea! I’m going to have to try that when our basil is all grown. Thankfully we have lots of extra ice cube trays!

    • http://jennifermayormaynot.wordpress.com jennifermayormaynot

      I love this! I’ve never heard of it before. And by the looks of my beginning basil, I’m going to have lots. Thank you!

  • http://www.drabtofabdesign.com Whitney @ Drab to Fab Design

    hi Kristen! I found you on Case-de-Christine and I’m so glad I did b/c we’re about to start a garden and have no clue what we’re doing! However, we do have a lemon tree and my hubby just made some homemade lemonade earlier this week!! :)

  • http://ashbeastyle.wordpress.com Ashley

    We started our seeds months ago, I just got them in the ground this week. We have about 10 different kinds of peppers , 3 variations of tomatoes, basil, dill and cilantro. Our basil actually comes back each year. I’m ready for some fresh salsa!

  • http://www.buffalo-roam.com Amy@BuffaloRoam

    You’re so smart to start this way. I’ve never gardened before, but I do have one tilled up in the yard… of the house we aren’t living in yet! I’m afraid I’m way behind… maybe just watermelon and pumpkins this year? ;)

  • casadechristine

    Your little garden looks great- those tags are adorable! Hopefully your landlord gets his act together and can fix up the garden space for you!

  • Sissy

    Nice photography skills! My lavender and sage started to sprout already.. it’s so exciting! In response to the last post — two, i like the two-tone ..although my go-to is to paint everything white because i’m boring.

    keep up the good work

  • johnny51

    Nice idea! The calligraphy is a nice touch too. I’ve always wanted to do this. The most we’ve ever grown from the start is a Chia Pet, although I don’t think that counts!

    • http://harleybird.wordpress.com harleybird

      I would count that! Besides who doesn’t love a Chia Pet? :P

  • http://thesimplecountrylife.com/ The Simple Life of a Country Man’s Wife

    nice! and it really brightens up the palace, doesn’t it.

    • http://popcornonthestove.wordpress.com Kristen

      It really does! Having plants around the house makes it feel more like a home :)

  • http://carliechew.wordpress.com Carlie Chew

    I think that’s a great idea to start your plants inside and them move them outdoors when you’re ready. You guys should think about starting a compost in your backyard to use as soil in your beds once it’s ready.

    • http://popcornonthestove.wordpress.com Kristen

      That’s definitely something we’d like to do but we have to run it by our landlord first. Not entirely sure what he would say.

  • http://barodabelly.wordpress.com LipiMac

    My cousins have a fig tree in their garden. I love the fruit. When its ripe the smells pretty strong. I’ve got basil, mint and curry tree in my garden so far :)

  • http://theinfill.wordpress.com DoF@theinfill

    I’ve bought a few peas, beans etc as baby plants (you know just the one strip type of thing) as the growing season here is not v long and frosts haven’t stopped yet. I’ll then plant seeds/peas/beans between the plantlets in the hope we’ll get a staggered crop of something. I used to do them all from seed and bring them on on window cills etc but I’ve not longer the patience I’m sorry to say. Good luck with all yours, you’ve got them beautifully arranged and sort of displayed – mine were always manky looking. I’ve been cruel to our fig tree. It’s in a large pot and used to be in the greenhouse but it’s been put out to survive or not. It’s doing quite well considering the snow and sleet we had a few days ago, which is surprising. Sounds as tho your garden is short of something – what do the books say? All the best ;) growing things to eat is so enjoyable

  • http://questingmooncommunications.wordpress.com Chanda K.

    I would love to be planting something because when I’m under extreme stress (like now in my life) I start planting everything in sight. But alas, it’s not an option right now — and if I try to start things indoors, the cats (9) will inevitably knock it over, eat it, dig in it, take it for a test drive . . . of course, that’s really just a few of the younger ones. The older ones just sniff at it delicately, observe, and bask in the beauty of growing things. I love your little tags, and agree that there’s something magical in making things look beautiful. I love the recycling going on there too. And I will have to try the getting plants to talk to each other. One thing I WILL do this year is buy some seed geraniums. I love keeping them for years in one sunny window with a bench, and having lovely colorful blossoms even in the midst of winter! However, I haven’t had them since Tristan arrived, so Lord knows if they’ll survive. (I hope they aren’t poisonous . . . oh, got to check) Keep up the blog, it’s wonderful to read about such pretty, lovely, hopeful things. Bless you for providing “good” food for thought and the heart.

  • http://bamcubz.wordpress.com Barbie

    A friend of ours gave us 4 big 24 inch pots which my husband planted our herb garden in several years ago. He also tried his hand a green chilies, cantaloupes – which were big and flavorful but only a few, yellow squash – which grew like there was no tomorrow. The herbs mostly basil lasted almost the whole year until a frost hit. We were surprised to see it come back the following Spring.

    • http://popcornonthestove.wordpress.com Kristen

      That’s amazing! We wanted to plant some squash and zucchini but I’m not sure we’ll be able to based on the state of the backyard.

  • http://attemptsatdomestication.com Ashley@AttemptsAtDomestication

    Love the cute tags! I should probably plant some herbs inside while we wait for a free weekend to get our garden going!

  • http://thomaswrites.wordpress.com thomaswrites

    Could you enlighten me on this one: what the hell is a succulent?

    • http://popcornonthestove.wordpress.com Kristen

      Haha that’s fine! A succulent is a water-retaining plant (think aloe).

      • http://thomaswrites.wordpress.com thomaswrites

        haha thanks. I live and learn

        • http://popcornonthestove.wordpress.com Kristen

          No problem!

  • http://thomaswrites.wordpress.com thomaswrites

    Sorry forgot to put the obligatory :) next to my comment to make it sound un-aggressive haha

  • http://lodore.wordpress.com The Gates of Lodore

    If I had plants indoors, my cat would eat them :) I can start a few things indoors, and keep them where the cat can’t get to them, and them move them outdoors when the weather is right. I’d suggest a small raised bed for outdoors, or getting several very large pots. You can grow many vegetables and herbs in pots (including tomatoes and peppers) – so that may be the easiest route.

    • pryan51

      my cats don’t eat my orchids or my Sansevieria – both soooooooooooooo easy to grow and enjoy

  • http://harleybird.wordpress.com harleybird

    I love your blog! Great pics too! Along with a veggie garden I planted 18 fruit trees in my yard this year. 13 are citrus trees the others are apricot, plum, apple, pear, and peach. Please don’t think I know what I’m doing though! Every day I pray they stay alive. :D I look forward to your gardening progress.

    • http://popcornonthestove.wordpress.com Kristen

      Thanks! I’m jealous of all those fruit trees you have! One day, when we have a house, I’d like to have a lemon tree and maybe an apple tree or plum tree if we’re lucky (and of course a fig tree for Joe!).

      • http://harleybird.wordpress.com harleybird

        I just hope I can keep them all alive. Oh I forgot to mention I have 2 fig trees. :D

  • http://twogirlsandaroad.com Dena

    I love the tags, however my talents lie in gardening, not in creating things with paper. :-(

  • http://suburbaneyefeast.wordpress.com suburban eye feast

    How cute! Succulents make me feel like the green thumb of the year. Our yard has pots filled with them. It’s safe. And pretty. We, too, had backyard dissapointment. I just wrote about it! You should check it out. http://wp.me/p2drct-5R Can’t wait to scope out the rest of your postings. :)

    • http://popcornonthestove.wordpress.com Kristen

      It’s amazing how forgiving they are! Definitely great beginner plants :)

  • http://garden4therapy.wordpress.com gardengirl204

    Love your plant tags – how about ‘Juicy’ (name for your succulent)?

  • http://thebusythistle.wordpress.com thebusythistle

    I don’t have any outdoor space so started my own indoor garden last year. I bought some new residents for the garden this year which you can see on my blog! Love having plants and being creative on the gardening front!

  • http://exerciseforliving.com Rockwell

    I wish i had a big window I could set plants up next to. I currently grow on the porch and its hard to keep the bugs away.

  • http://hotfemmeinthecity.wordpress.com natasiarose

    I grow basil, chives and parsley on my windowsill but I never thought of doing garlic! ZOMG genius!

  • http://katieraspberry.wordpress.com Katie Raspberry

    I love this post! Keeps me inspired for when I can finally made a little garden of my own!
    I definitely want to grow my own spices! :]
    Great post!

    • http://popcornonthestove.wordpress.com Kristen

      Thank you!

  • http://waxingpoetica.wordpress.com Waxing Poetica

    My window sill is looking much the same. With very little rain, and untilled garden plot, and wildly fluctuating temperatures, I have yet to plant the bulk of my garden. Good luck!

    • http://popcornonthestove.wordpress.com Kristen

      Thank you! You too!

  • pryan51

    I think the outdoor soil would be so much healthier if, instead of burning the twigs and brush your landlord mulched them.

  • http://horsehoundandhouse.wordpress.com horsehoundandhouse

    I’m lucky in that I have tons of free fertilizer (from my horse!) so our outdoor gardens have been doing very well so far. We have just flowers right now, but I would LOVE to have some grape vines. Our neighbor has a huge garden, so we get vegetables from him!

    • http://popcornonthestove.wordpress.com Kristen

      My grandma had grape vines at his house when he was still alive. I’m not sure how difficult they are to grow but they are delicious (and in my opinion, worth it). Plus, they could provide shade in the Summer.

  • http://www.horsehoundandhouse.com Stephanie @ Horse Hound and House

    We don’t have any vegetables, but tons of flowers. Our neighbor has a garden, so he hooks us up with cucumbers and tomatoes. I’d love to have a grape vine, though! Luckily I get lots of free fertilizer from my horse!

  • http://salmonfishingqueen.wordpress.com babso2you

    I think that the succulent is a variety of sedum. You can always take the plant to a nursery and ask! Check out my blog at salmonfishingqueen.wordpress.com to see my greenhouse and how my seeds are starting to pop! Most exciting!

  • http://arunashouse.wordpress.com arunashouse

    You right.. nothing better to feel like home than beautiful plants :)

  • Megy

    I tried growing basil in my window box for a while just after I moved into my house. It only lasted a couple weeks before I drowned it. Your post has given me the inspiration to try again. Maybe I should just start with a cactus.

  • http://engchick23.wordpress.com engchick23

    I’m so glad you and your husband haven’t been discouraged by the poor soil outdoors! I love the idea of an indoor garden!
    Congratulations on your plant nursery; I hope they grow strong and taste amazing! All the best! :D

  • http://inmygardencountryedition.wordpress.com In My Garden (country edition)

    I’m assuming you’re in the northeast since in your “about” you talk about the Oct. 2011 snowstorm. If so ash will probably only enhance your soil quality. I’m currently growing herbs, veg and fruit – swing by my blog if you’ve got questions, a lot of my readers are beginning gardeners so I address a lot of the basics! Congrats of FP!

  • http://theliftblog.wordpress.com theliftblog

    I love the idea of the indoor garden! I don’t have any outdoor space except a balcony, so I am forced to start my plants inside then move them. So far I have peppers, tomatoes and a few herbs started. If you want to revitalize that outdoor garden and stay green, maybe start vermicomposting. I started and it makes worlds of difference in the gross-ness of garbage and the worms are hard little workers! Good luck on your little garden from one 20-something to another! :)


  • http://storiesandetc.wordpress.com C

    I recently started parsley and basil indoors (from seed). Love checking on them daily :D

  • http://conversationalwordsmith.wordpress.com Carol Wuenschell

    Very cute. I love your approach. My husband and I have that house, and a yard, and it’s a neverending source of things-I-gotta-do. Almost would like to turn back the clock to where you are. (We have a stone plant on our windowsill. It looks like a… well, a stone. And they die if you give more than just a breath of water.)

  • http://jennifermayormaynot.wordpress.com jennifermayormaynot

    I have a “hanging herb garden” outside. I got the idea from a Birds and Blooms issue. I took empty water bottles, punched holes in the bottom for drainage and cut the tops off. I also punched a few holes about half an inch from the top to run yarn through. I filled them with soil and planted some seeds I got from the store. I then ran the yarn through the holes at the top and tied the bottles to a wire trellis. I made little tags and put them in tiny clear baggies and attached them with safety pins. I put the trellis in the ground up under the eaves of the house so the rain wouldn’t wash out the soil. I now have a thriving herb garden! I agree, plants like the company of other plants, Good luck with your green thumb!

  • http://katiepede.wordpress.com katiepede

    Lovely pictures of your plants! I too have been planting, and I love it! Happy growing x

  • http://4mylifefitness.wordpress.com 4MyLifeFitness

    I agree, the tags are definitely adorable and artisitc. The Basil plant on the far left is looking good. I have debated about starting a garden in the backyard but I hear too many stories about how difficult it is to actually have a flourishing one.

  • http://cheffingit.wordpress.com Sarah

    Love your plant tags. Very cute. :D

  • http://sheepgomoo.wordpress.com sheepgomoo

    Hooray plants!

    I can’t recommend mint enough to someone afraid of screwing up plants. It’s basically immortal (plus easy to start/spread- just cut a bit under a set of leaves, set in water and boom- roots. Stick in dirt. The end), plus, left untended it speads like a weed (a weed that is also delicious)

    I also recommend playing with herbs and different varieties- chocolate mint, cinnamon basil- hierloom herb, when bought in seed, are pretty cheap (although highly addictive) If you do, just be sure you keep the mints away from each other – i’ve heard, but not confirmed, that they intermingle and end up all tasting the same.

    Have you checked out yougrowgirl.com? it’s a fabulous (and very very pretty) website.

    • http://popcornonthestove.wordpress.com Kristen

      I haven’t yet but I’ll definitely have to now. Thanks for the link!

  • http://ridewritedraw.wordpress.com thegirlwiththespiralnotebook

    I love the tags! Last year, I grew some radishes from seeds, placing them out on the front porch and excitedly rushing up to the steps to wait for their transformation. I’ve also grown some basil, parsley, chives, etc..Some lavender that I planted and some other herbs are growing out in the side of the house. I love growing edible plants and adorning them with some cute signs!

  • http://rlogan1155.wordpress.com rlogan1155

    Tried before – this is now a test. Love your gift idea. It would give a space challenged person like me my gardening fix.
    Ruth from At Home on the Road

  • DennisT

    Don’t give up on the outside. And don’t burn the twigs, branches and brush. If your soil is heavy and clay, or if it’s powder, or if it’s sand — all those are solved by mulch. Lots of mulch. You don’t have to compost. Take the twigs and branches and brush and cut them so the longest is under 6 inches long and bury them. Dig a hole. Throw them in. Bury them. Let time take care of them. Make sure there is about 6 inches of dirt on top after you bury the brush, so you can forget about it and not have ugly trash poking out of the ground. If you live in the desert, then next year after the rains you will find all that is mostly dirt and worms and smells beautiful. If you live someplace that’s moist it will take a few months. Maybe no good for THIS Spring, but very good for the rest of your gardening life. I’ve been doing this for 30 years. It works. Good luck!!!

  • http://artphalt.wordpress.com C.D.

    Oh please, don’t make the “temporary indoor garden” be so temporary, it looks amazing, it should definitely be permanent!
    Have a nice day,
    Artphalt (http://artphalt.wordpress.com)

  • http://www.Annemarieblogs.wordpress.com Anne Marie

    I would love to plant inside, by my little kitty cat would totally mess things up!

  • Fresh from my desk…

    First – big congratulations on being “Freshly Pressed”! Great pictures with this post – loving your window garden. We do alot of our herbs in big planters on the patio. We have alot of luck with basil, oregano, and thyme in the pots but our parsley is happiest in a free range setting. Happy gardening!

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