Updated: Apr 6
Have you found yourself wanting to spend more time outside? Have quarantine days made you rethink the space of your backyard or balcony, since you have extra time at home? Or maybe you are just damn curious to have something edible grow at arms length. If you live in South Florida, this post will also be helpful since we are trying all of this from Miami,Fl.
Before I got married to my husband we started a really cute garden with just a few herbs and veggies in a raised garden bed, but the heavy late spring rains rotted everything and since I wasn't living with him yet, I wasn't really on top of the pruning like I should of been. Fast forward to just a few months married (just before lock down) and we decide to start again, only this time I told myself to start with only potted plants.
The idea of potted plants to me was something I could control, play around with placement and learn which plants did better in part sun and full sun. What I quickly learned is that Miami is beyond hot and even though some plants required " full sun" they couldn't handle it. Wilted, burned leaves would occur, but I would catch it just in the nick of time. Finding a new spot and learning which plants thrived.
I started with herbs and root spices, once I learned how to keep and maintain those long enough, I was ready to tackle veggies and fruit!
We bought our plants and seeds from a variety of places, living in Miami, you can either germinate seeds rather easily, or you can buy the plugs/small plants from your favorite local spot.
We go to a few places for just that|
Casa Planta Miami - Great Nursery for indoor and outdoor plants and florals, plenty of herbs, vegetables and fruit plants. CLICK HERE
Tiny Farms Miami - have fresh produce or visit their markets on select dates for ready to plant and seed items. CLICK HERE
Johnny Seeds - Everyone's go to seen store. If you've got the time and plan on making this a long term project, start from seed. CLICK HERE
Home Depot - If this is your first time and don't have a lot of local nurseries around, start here, every now and then visit because they'll pop up with a fun item, like strawberries! CLICK HERE
So without overwhelming you and getting into talks about zones and when to sow seeds (WE ARE IN ZONE 10 IN MIAMI by the way) it's a great time to begin planting NOW! March 15th is the official date of " The Last Frost" in our zone... don't stress about that too much. The timing of this post is so you can go ahead and start ASAP if you are feeling inspired!
Here's what I have thriving currently with a few tidbits to get you started and also what currently is in the works. To follow I will also list a couple TV shows and YOUTUBE channels that I have enjoyed and learned from!
Remember if you pot anything, make sure it drains well. If you put anything in a garden bed, read up on spacing for each plant. Don't forget to prune your plants and pick weeds as soon as you see them to prevent them from encroaching your plants.
PART SUN POTTED HERBS & SPICES|
SWEET MINT, PEPPERMINT, CHOCOLATE MINT - Any plant from the mint family you want to keep in a pot. It acts like a weed and will invade other plants if shared in a container. They also love water. Being in Miami, I don't stress too much when we get the heavy rains because these babies love it!
THYME & OREGANO - They like their soil moist but don't need to be drenched, I water these guys every other day on really hot days or every few days on rainy/humid days in Miami. I had an old thyme plant rot once from weeks of rain, so I let it dry out for a bit, chopped off a lot and it slowly came back. Obviously you don't have to wait for that to happen, but if you ever want to try rehabbing a plant it's a great way to learn how far they actually can go.
FULL SUN POTTED HERBS & SPICES|
LEMONGRASS - This aromatic grass is awesome to flavor your dishes with and is really easy to grow and hard to kill. It's from the East and loves water and humidity. If it goes too long without water you will see it wilt, but it shockingly comes back to life every time!
JALAPENO - This was gifted from our friend's garden and was the push to try again a veggie garden! This guy still lives in his pot as he had acquired a fungal issue but neem oil, pruning and steady watering (they don't like being soaked, just a little moist) we brought him back. He's currently flowering and the peppers aren't too far behind. We don't want to shock it by putting in the bed, now that we have it stable so he's going to stay in his pot in full sun. Since this veggie is in a container we make sure it get's a good feeding from fertilizer.
GINGER - Have some left over ginger from the market? Notice any green points on it? that means it's getting ready to sprout and you should plant it! Ginger works best in a large shallow pot, really moist soil and full sun! As the sprouts continue they will eventually start looking like little palm fronds. You can dig up fresh pieces and break them off and recover and allow more growth to happen. You will be shocked by what fresh ginger actually is!
GARLIC | Each clove can grow one bulb of garlic, so to be sure to give it space. You want to be careful not to over water, they don't like wet soil. It's a fine line between moist and almost dried out. I know this from it rotting out! FML lol. Also know you can chop and eat the leaves they sprout in their early stages, kinda like chive.
*** Currently have a bunch of ginger in the garden bed with my other hearty/contained herbs because I was curious to grow more ginger and see if the garden bed works.
I also am growing in pots Mulberry and Strawberry Tree fruit and traditional Strawberry. The strawberries are producing their fruit already but the other items are still in their early stages. I will keep you posted!
GARDEN BED 1: CONTAINED HERBS |
ROSEMARY & CHAMOMILE | I transplanted from pots, these herbs are on one side of the bed that gets less water. They are drought tolerant and i don't have to stress too much about watering. Chamomile has softer leaves so it's easier to tell when it needs water versus rosemary so putting them side by side I'm learning when to water them accordingly. FULL SUN (6 hours)
BASIL | Moist soil and happy pruning! If you go too long without pruning, you can run into problems. Sometime I'll chop a good amount of branches, bring them inside and place in a glass of water. That way I'm more likely to add to salads, dishes and then some. Sometimes when you do this, propagation occurs. Propagation is a fancy word for breeding and often used when your plant cuttings grow roots and ready to re-plant! FULL SUN (6 hours)
GINGER | On the same side as basil, I have laid the ginger on the opposite corner. Again moist soil and let that thing sprout! FULL SUN (6 hours)
*** Since this garden bed is next to our floral " U-Pick" garden bed, I sowed a row of sunflowers since there is plenty of space in this one. I also love sunflowers because they remind of my late balmy Septembers just before fall comes. So I'm taking advantage of this space to see what happens lol.
GARDEN BED 2: PERENNIALS & ANNUALS |
I know we are focused on the edible part of the garden, but it's so great to have flowers that attracts bees, butterflies and lady bugs! It aids in pollinating which for certain veggies you want their blossoms taken care of and these flowers will attract your garden helpers! #savethebees
We've got Delphiniums, Snapdragons, and Sunflowers. I do want to sow some Zinnias, Cosmos, African Daisy and more...
GARDEN BED 3: VEGGIES & FRUIT |
All the veggies listed below all enjoy FULL SUN, moist soil, morning waters and on hot days a second watering. You will want to water at the base of the plant Or instal a drip system (that's what we have), we have it go off in the morning, and then again around 1p.m. before wilting can occur.
To help prevent the spread of bacteria from dirt splashing on leaves, you can invest in layering mulch at the base of your plants. This also locks in moisture on the very hot days to come!
TOMATOES- Prune those shoots! You'll need to dive a little deeper on just how to do that via one of our recommended resources, but it's to make sure all the energy is focused on the fruit verses excess of branches.
GREEN & RED BELLE PEPPERS- I have to be honest, I just worry about the water on these guys. I'm shocked by how quickly these blossomed and the belles formed. I already have a couple the size of my palm.
ONION, GREEN ONION & CHIVE- The only difference between onion and green onion is that onion you wait for the bulb to be full grown, where the green onion you just chop it's leaves and it sprouts over and over before it can mature to a full bulb onion. chive is a great herb that I love the onion/garlic smell and taste and it's just an extra boost to your dishes.
CUCUMBER- I am still in my early stages with this plant but what you want to do is have a trellis or some form of structure for it to climb from the start. The sooner you get the vine off the dirt, the better.
EGGPLANT - This is the other plant still in it's early stages, keeping it hydrated without over watering. On hotter days you want to prevent it from wilting so make sure the soil is moist enough!
GARDEN BED 4: LETTUCE |
Had I known that once you figured out your drip (or watering) schedule, how to prune/pick, lettuce is totally doable. We water these babies twice a day, once in the AM and again in the early afternoon at the peak of the sun. The drip system goes for 5 minutes and has them thriving. So far this is what we are growing:
Arugula, Spinach, Red Leaf, Summer Crisp,Mesclun
EXTRA GARDEN HELPERS|
You can find at your local nursery well mixed potting compost and slow releasing fertilizers to help at the first planting and every couple of weeks to the first signs of produce! They have clear easy instructions, so don't worry on figuring out the schedule on your own!
ORGANIC PEST CONTROL:
NEEM OIL- This oil is a derivative from the Neem tree. A friend of my husband sprays this almost everyday on his plants and swears by it. Welp, it's been a great tool! It even brought back our very attacked jalapeno plant, just when I thought it was far gone. Pests hate it and it's been a lifesaver.
LADYBUGS- Lady bugs are great to have in your garden. They feed on pesky critters like aphids, white fly and more. Having flowers obviously can be a great way to attract lady bugs. During the fall season I noticed an entire family living in each of my potted mums. However fast forward to Spring time I have noticed some damaged on some of my leaves, not too much, but enough to make me want a boost in Ladybugs.
Ok, that was my cliff notes of "Intro to Gardening". I hope that this was helpful and to the point of what is currently working for our garden and inspires you to give it a shot. Be it your first time or 10th time, let's try growing food at arms length. Tag us or hashtag #b2bgardens