5 ways to grow your own garden with or without a garden – Low Calorie Diets Tips


Whether you have a sprawling yard for raised beds and bean arches, or a fifth-story windowsill that gets lots of light, there’s always something incredible and delicious to grow.

I’m no stranger either. I began urban farming by helping establish the Moore Street Community Garden in South Philadelphia, which was later incorporated into the Neighborhoods Garden Trust and made it a garden forever. I then moved west to Pittsburgh where I worked at Whole Foods and was chosen to work with their sponsored community gardens where they not only grew crops but also taught local kids how to grow food.

It was time to start looking at farming as a calling, not a side hustle. So I moved my family to New Jersey, where I’m now a Rutgers master gardener, certified market gardener, and director of agriculture beach plum farma 62-acre farm in the heart of Cape May, New Jersey.

Looking to get your hands dirty this season? Here are some of my favorite tips:

1. Garden placement

The most important component of creating a garden is determining the right location. Most food plants need full sun, so you’ll want to find a spot that doesn’t get too much shade — away from the trees in the garden, or on a nice, light windowsill.

Also, make sure you are near a reliable source of water to make watering easier. If you are planting outside I would recommend testing your soil first. Test kits can usually be ordered through the local university, samples can be sent to and the results interpreted by the local agricultural adviser. Once you know your floor, you can determine what changes you want to add. Most are available at local garden centers or nurseries.

To keep it simple, topsoil and mushroom or leaf compost are great organic additives that will help your plants live their most productive lives. Never use pressure treated lumber to build a raised bed. It’s treated with toxic preservatives like formaldehyde that can leach into your floor. If you choose a pot by the windows or even on the patio, choose a pot with drainage holes and potting soil that drains well.

2. Under- and over-watering

Source: Harli G/Youtube

This is the most common mistake, no matter the size of your garden! Overwatering rather than underwatering is often the reason for a less than outstanding garden, especially when growing in a pot. You want to make sure your pots have good drainage. Too much water washes away nutrients and a lack of drainage can lead to root rot and drown plants. The larger the plant, the more water it needs, but less frequent watering. Smaller plants are the opposite and need less but more frequent watering.

3. Go vertical

Source: Roots and Refuge Farm/Youtube

Regardless of the space you have, don’t be afraid to go vertical! Beans and peas can be grown on an arch or tower, and many companies are now building vertical gardens for patios, stairways, and smaller outdoor areas. I’ve also seen many apartment renters growing herbs in hanging planters in their windows. Pallets can also be converted into vertical gardens!

4. Growing too much

Honestly, a summer full of long, lazy days at the beach and summer barbecues is better than spending hours in the garden every weekend. It’s easy to get carried away in spring, but plants need a lot of time and care. Planting too much will also produce too much food at once, requiring extra hours. Start with one to three tomato plants, a zucchini or squash, and maybe a cucumber plant or two if you’re growing outside. Inside, stick to no more than two basil plants and maybe one or two other simple herbs that you use and enjoy often. This will set you up with enough product to use throughout the week and not take up your weekend.

5. Getting too exotic

It can be tempting to dive right into exotic heirlooms or interesting flowers, but if you’re just starting out, it’s best to stick to the basics. It may take a few growing seasons to dial in watering, transplanting, bed preparation, and more. Heirloom and exotic strains are often finicky and can be difficult to grow outdoors or in near-perfect conditions. If you’re doing this in a more urban setting, stick to the herbs and simple things you use often, like basil, parsley, fresh mint, and more.

Beach Plum Farm in Cape May, New Jersey
Beach Plum Farm in Cape May, New Jersey

There’s no better time than now to plant that garden, harvest veggies, and discover the magic that Earth has with a little help from its human inhabitants. With a little creativity, a little attention, and a lot of love, your garden can be not just a beauty, but a wonderful way to put something delicious on the plate.

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