When the ice caps first began to melt here in Michigan a couple of months ago, I compiled some garden resources in anticipation of planting season. My husband and I live in an apartment, but that doesn’t mean we can’t garden. Some day we’d love to own a little piece of land where we can plant an orchard and a full vegetable garden.
Meanwhile, we urban homestead with kefir culturing on our countertop, clothes hanging to dry in the living room, and new pots crowding our second-story balcony!
Since this is the first garden either of us have planted in a long time, we relied heavily on Jami’s eBook Apartment Gardening to walk us through the process. Jami’s book is a GREAT resource for everything from choosing seeds to harvesting and preserving your crop. The book includes chapters on composting, organic gardening, and maintaining and caring for your plants. I love that the revised second edition also comes with free garden printables for keeping track of your goals and harvest.
Apartment Gardening‘s chapters on herbs convinced us that this was the route we wanted to take with our first garden. (We did choose a few leafy greens as well.) Herbs are easy to grow and you don’t have to wait long to harvest them. In addition, you can move them indoors during the colder months and continue to enjoy them year-round.
One of the reasons we’re planting a garden is that we want non-GMO, pesticide-free produce. We were willing to spend extra on plants and soil in order to grow organically. We couldn’t find organic potting soil at Meijer or Lowes, but members of our local WAPF chapter recommended checking a hydroponics store. We bought two 1.5 cubic ft. bags of Fox Farm “ocean forest” organic potting soil for $16.91 each. Pricey, yes, but it’s the good stuff–worm castings, bat guano and all that jazz. Pretty tasty.
We also bought an 8-qt bag of pearlite ($4) to mix into the soil. Pearlite aerates the soil to improve drainage and keep it from becoming compacted. We did buy some basic pots from Lowes for about $20. From our local natural foods co-op we bought organic seedlings for about $40 total. Here’s what we chose:
- Greek oregano
- English thyme
- curled parsley
We planted our seedlings after the last frost, filling the pots with a mixture of 80% potting soil and 20% pearlite. We filled the pots to within about an inch of the top, as some of the soil will drain out over time. As our plants grow (particularly the intrepid kale), we will need to upgrade to larger pots.
The total cost of our garden came to just under $100. It would’ve been cheaper if we’d started our plants from seed or bought a lower-quality potting soil. Our herbs LOVE the nutrient-dense soil, though, and we love being able to harvest them right away.
Herbs are gracing nearly every dish we make now. Yesterday we added fresh dill to a tomato and cucumber salad. This morning we enjoyed spinach, oregano, and basil in our sausage and cheese omelets. Here’s a whole round-up of herb recipes! And Fruitful lists some other delicious ways to use herbs here. Herbs are going to wake up our food all summer long…