By Neenah Payne
Since I live in an apartment and have no access to land (yet), my “gardening” began in 2015 with an AeroGarden and some sprouts which I documented in my Urban Gardens Revolution site. However, I wanted to find a way to grow more foods indoors and to get a piece of land to begin real gardening.
In April, I bought an Edible Garden Basil from my grocery store and was delighted with its aroma and beauty. It thrives on the windowsill in my dining room although it gets almost no direct sunlight. I water it about once a day and turn it to allow all sides to face the light. The Basil inspired me to get an Edible Garden Parsley. I was surprised to see what a different “personality” it has from the stately lush round Basil. Parsley grows like a weed and bends much more dramatically toward the light every day.
Best Advice For New Gardeners
A few weeks later, I got an Edible Garden Mint, Rosemary, and Sage for the other window in my dining room. It was again interesting to see how different each plant is in terms of aroma, shape, and growth. The Mint shot up so fast I had to buy trellises for it. The Rosemary smells divine but grows very little if at all. The Sage soon had droopy leaves that sent me online in search of some “sage” advice — and I found it in abundance at the one-stop-shop below!
Social Media’s Most-Watched Garden Personality: Meet Laura LeBoutillier of Garden Answer says: “Laura LeBoutillier is an internet sensation. And in the gardening world, that’s saying something! In the five years since she and her videographer/husband Aaron started making Garden Answer advice videos, Laura has collected a social media following of more than 5 million people.”
When Laura was asked: “What’s your best advice for newbie gardeners?”, she said, “Ignore the rules. I think it’s more fun to go and plant whatever you want. I’m a proponent of doing. I’m not a book learner and I do so much better just trying stuff out and learning from experience. And I think people get overwhelmed because there are rules for planting and they’re afraid they’re going to do something wrong. And so I say, just abandon those rules and do what you want and you’ll learn so much more that way.”
Laura is shown below with her husband Aaron, her videographer. Laura’s Twitter account is: https://twitter.com/gardenanswer.
Shelf Grow Light With Timer and Potting Mix
In Top 6 Struggles of Growing Herbs Indoors (w/solutions), Laura says it’s easier to start with plants than growing from seeds. She recommends the Edible Garden plants Basil, Parsley, Rosemary, Mint, and Bay and warns that Sage can be difficult! Laura explains that it’s good for plants to be cut back because it stimulates new growth — but advises never to prune more that 30% of a plant at one time to allow it to recover.
Laura recommends Micro Grow Light Garden which costs $115 and has no timer. Instead, I bought the Indoor Garden Led Grow Light: Herb Seeds Kitchen Garden Grow Kit – House Plant Growing Lamps Growing System with Timer from Amazon which costs about $30. The timer can be set for 3, 9, or 12 hours. The brightness of the full spectrum LED light can be set at 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100%. The height can be adjusted. Note: I had to buy a washer (35 cents) from a hardware store to tighten the screw and hold the light in place. The Product Page shows the washer is not included, but it should be. I planned to get floor Grow Lights in the winter, but I prefer this shelf light. I bought the pots shown with the light and will use one to repot the Sage if the Grow Light doesn’t help it recover.
Laura recommends Espoma Potting Mix which I bought. However, a number of Amazon reviewers warned about gnats. So, I will open it outdoors to check for bugs before using it. I bought the 8-quart size which turned out to be WAY too much soil for the two pots I have now! It’s 5 x 10.5 x 16 inches and weighs 4.4 lbs. However, that seems to be the smallest size on Amazon. A reviewer on Amazon warned that Miracle Grow (which I had planned to get at my grocery store) has the risk of fungus gnats. It is also not organic.
Another video explained that plants like to rest when it gets dark. So, I turn off the light in my dining room now when the sun goes down. Initially, I set the Grow Light timer at 4:30 for three hours on the lowest intensity and the light at the top of the stand. The video also recommended filtered water so the plants don’t have to deal with fluoride and chlorine. I use the Clearly Filtered pitcher.
My Sage was perky when I got it last month but began to droop in a week or so. The top leaves perked up this week and look normal now although the bottom leaves are still drooping. I will provide an update after I see whether the Grow Lights and/or repotting help!
10 Easiest Herbs To Grow
These Are the Easiest Herbs to Grow for the Perfect Culinary Garden discusses how to grow herbs indoors or outdoors. It says: “Thankfully, there is a large list of low maintenance and very user-friendly herbs that don’t require master gardener knowledge to grow and keep healthy—yes, you can keep something alive! By following the tips below, you’ll be able to jump start your herb garden (note: the timing for planting your herbs only matters if you’re going planting outside. If you’re doing this indoors, plant away any time of year). So, whether you decide on an indoor vertical garden to start cultivating your herbs or a setup on your balcony or patio, you won’t regret adding these easygoing plants to your inventory.“
Most of the recommended herbs are available on the Edible Garden site:
Best Herbs and Vegetables To Grow Indoors
Indoor Gardening 101: How to Grow Veggies and Herbs In an Apartment says “Indoor herb gardens tend to be a bit easier. Basil, chives, mint, oregano, parsley, sage, and thyme are all great options. Plants that like a bit of shade, like leaf lettuce, spinach, arugula, and kale, are all good candidates for an indoor garden. The same holds true for radishes, beets, and carrots. “
MVG Brooklyn Community Vegetable Garden
My next step will be to get a plot of land to raise food. So, I began visiting community gardens. Since I assumed that all community gardens grow food, I was surprised when I visited the 6B Community Garden in the Lower East Side of Manhattan at Sixth Avenue and Avenue B which is devoted almost 100% to flowers.
The Myrtle Village Green (MVG) Community Garden is about a 15-minute walk from my apartment in Brooklyn, NY — across the street from my Post Office.
“Myrtle Village Green is the only community garden, outdoor learning space, and secular gathering place of its kind in this part of Bed-Stuy. We feed the neighborhood with 1.3 tons of affordable, nutrient-dense food per season, and more than 50 varieties of fruits and vegetables from around the world. Our compost volunteers have diverted more than 36,000 pounds of food waste and trained dozens of community members about how to compost at home.”
When I got my garden key in April, I met one of the founders who teaches at an elementary school in the area. She has a plot for the kids to learn to garden. It would be a very good idea for all schools from Pre-K through grad school to have students learn how to grow food. Food is a national security issue. The ability to grow food adds to independence.
Since the waiting list for plots is long, I may not get one this year — or maybe even next year. That’s fine because I would not know what to plant or how to do it. I still have a lot to learn!
Some of the food in the garden is being grown in trays.
Other foods are being grown in the ground and there are lots of foods in raised beds.
High-Performance Garden Show
“This year’s High-Performance Garden Show focuses on stopping the garden struggle and on manufacturing your health. We hope to change the way people are eating to the root of our degenerative diseases and start to heal people, to show people how easy it is to grow their own food, add enjoyment to their nutrient-dense life and give them skills to pass down to the next generation.”
Lynn Gillespie is the author of High Performance Gardening: The most fun, productive and organic gardening experience you will ever have!
Prepare For Coming Food Shortages
Food Is A Double National Security Issue shows that 40% of Americans waiting up to 12 hours in food lines now were never food insecure before 2020. My Gardening Articles are listed on my Urban Gardens Revolution site under Extras.
The articles were published on the Natural Blaze site which carries articles by a wide variety of authors including Curtis Stone, The Urban Farmer, who warns about coming food shortages and provides tips on how to grow lots of food on small plots. See his book The Urban Farmer.
Andrews Seeds Named Business of the Year
“Mike and Susan Kurth stand in front of colorful racks of seed packages behind the counter at Andrews Seed Co. Their business is Ontario Area Chamber of Commerce’s Business of the Year.”
The article adds:
“Mike and Susan Kurth both moved to Ontario with their families when they were 9 years old and became firmly planted in the community. The couple are now owners, along with Dave Polhemus, of Andrews Seed Co. Andrews Seed is being honored as Business of the Year for 2015 by the Ontario Area Chamber of Commerce. The company, as well as other honorees, will be recognized during the Chamber’s annual banquet Friday.
Alvin Andrews started Andrews Seed in 1917, Mike Kurth said. John Stubstad purchased the business in 1955. Upon Stubstad’s death in 2003, Polhemus and the Kurths assumed ownership of the business. Mike Kurth began working at Andrews Seed while in high school and continued to work there while attending Treasure Valley Community College in the crops and horticulture program. The company always set his work schedule around his school schedule, he said. ‘There was always something to hold me,’ Kurth said, about why he stayed with the business. Susan Kurth was planning to go into nursing when she decided to make the store her career.
According to an Andrews Seed ad printed in an Argus Observer publication celebrating Ontario’s 125th anniversary, Stubstad streamlined the business and added seed conditioning facilities in the adjacent 600 block of South Oregon Street. In the 1980s, adjacent property to the east was acquired from Union Pacific Railroad for grain storage and a second seed conditioning facility. More properties were acquired with the purchase of the Dyer Lumber Co. site to the north, and the former Wilsons Warehouse Market facility on the west side of South Oregon Street.”
The article adds:
“It had been a wholesale and retail seed company with a small store, Mike Kurth said. The full-service nursery is open year-round, and people come to buy live Christmas trees, Mike Kurth said, but they will see people walking around out in the nursery in January.
Although they sell a lot of nursery and garden stock, seed is a major part of the business. Alfalfa seed is the company’s lead product, and red clover is second, Mike Kurth said. Local farmers deliver the crops to Andrews, where it is cleaned, processed and bagged. The store also offers a variety of grass seed, cereal grains, plus custom and standard mixes. Andrews also sells other grass and cereal grain seed produced in other areas. In addition, the store offers hundreds of varieties of bulk flower and vegetable seeds. What-ever the product, the seed is naturally produced.
‘We don’t carry any GMO seed,’ Mike Kurth said, adding that the company does not buy from companies that produce genetically modified seed. Andrews also carries organic seeds. ‘Organic is becoming more and more important,’ Kurth said. Andrews’ inventory includes tools, organic fertilizers, weed and bug control, trees, shrubs and annuals, along with bird seed and bird feeders.
What is most important to Mike and Susan Kurth is that Andrews Seed continues to be a family-run business. Their daughters Laura LeBoutillier and Monica Murach are involved with the business. Andrews Seed expanded the business’s community involvement with the Adopt-A-Pot program, which provides placed flower pots in the downtown Ontario area and keeps flowers and plants in them year-round, with the help of donations. It also started the Pumpkin Palooza, a fall community event. Those projects are spearheaded by LeBoutillier, Susan Kurth said.
Their son, Joseph Kurth, who teaches at Treasure Valley Community College, also works on the farm seed side of business. ‘It’s really our entire family involved,’ Susan Kurth said. Their employees also are an important part of the business, the Kurths said. ‘Without them, none of this would be possible,’ Mike Kurth said. Those employees include Robert Douglas, Juan Pena, Victor Flores, Robyn Percifield, Grant Esplin and Gary McLean. There are seasonal employees as well. ‘I feel very humbled to receive an award like this,’ Mike Kurth said of the Chamber’s recognition. His wife added that they are grateful to live in the community. Mike Kurth agreed. ‘I felt the community support for us is the reason we are still relevant,’ he said. ‘We hope we are relevant to them.’”
Tour of The Kurths’ Massive Garden
Laura draws on her experience answering gardener questions at the family garden center, where she still works regularly. Laura and Aaron LeBoutillier turned a gardening hobby into a full-time job making videos on YouTube for their channel Garden Answer which has over half a million subscribers.
In Tour of My Parent’s Garden May 2020, Laura provides an extensive tour of her parents’ massive flower garden and their food garden in eastern Oregon in May 2020. She’s accompanied every step of the way by the family’s kitty cat.
Top image: GreenMatters
Neenah Payne writes for Natural Blaze and Activist Post