How to make your own mini quarantine garden

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If grocery store lines put you on edge or if you want to get fresh fruits and vegetables without having to eye the people around you suspiciously and sanitize your hands over and over, we have the perfect solution for you. Instead of suffering in the store, try planting some of your own vegetables! You don’t have to have a huge space or a ton of resources; you just have to put in a little effort every day. Soon you’ll be getting tiny tomatoes or some fresh chard! Follow these tips to start your new quarantine project — a tiny garden!

Pick your vegetables

Don’t just pick whatever looks good to try to grow yourself. Some things that you get from the store may take a lot of resources and time to grow. Instead, do a little research on plants that work for the climate you’re in. If you’re in the Berkeley area, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers and some types of cucumbers definitely fit the bill. And since nurseries are now open, take a little time to explore your local nursery and ask the staff for recommendations. 

Choose the right spot to grow 

This definitely means different things for different people. If you have a backyard or sunny balcony, find a spot with plenty of sun that won’t get ravaged by your dog. You also could choose to grow a small herb garden in a window box or inside your window. You’re also going to want to be close to water, or at least have a watering can to water your plant. It’s whatever works best for you. 

Have the right materials 

This doesn’t mean you need to buy a bunch of supplies. You’ll likely need a small or large pot (depending on the plant you choose), and though this can be store-bought, you can also try and repurpose a container you have at home. I’ve even used a large bucket from my garage and it works just as well! If you’re feeling handy, you could also build a small planter box with some planks of wood. The important thing to remember is that it should be able to drain at the bottom, so if you DIY a pot, make sure you drill some small holes in the bottom so the water can drain through. You’ll also need some soil, which you should try and buy so that it has the right mix of nutrients. And of course, you’ll need the plant itself! Though you can buy seeds, it’s easier to start out with a small plant.

Don’t use too much or too little water

Once you’ve planted your new vegetable, you need to take care of it! Don’t be intimidated, but do be diligent. This mostly means watering your plant right, which depends a lot on what kind of plant you have and what climate you live in. A good general rule is to water enough so that the soil stays damp, and when you notice it has become dry a couple inches under the surface, water again! This might mean watering every day or every other day. The important part is recording how your plant responds to different levels of water and sun. Get to know your plant!

Be dutiful, but enjoy the experience! 

Check on your plant regularly and make sure it’s getting good sun; try to make a connection with your plant! If it feels like a chore, chances are the experience won’t be as fun. But if you put a little work in and get good results, it will feel amazing adding fresh tomatoes or cucumbers to your salad. Don’t forget to utilize all your resources — ask your local nursery staff about plants, do some research on planting tips and use unexpected spaces such as a window.

Good luck with your mini quarantine garden! Though it’ll take some work, you’ll be able to minimize those stress-inducing grocery trips. And who knows? Maybe you’ll find out that you have a green thumb and that gardening is your calling. You’re welcome in advance!

Contact Elysa Dombro at [email protected].