My first vegetable garden was grown in a skinny gap in concrete. I had planted tomatoes and pepper seeds from kitchen scraps that grew abundantly up an old plastic gate I had positioned as a trellis. The plants were fairly prolific, and we regularly collected colorful bowls of sun-ripened goodness to incorporate in our meals. That expanse of concrete suddenly had a mini-wall of lush, green life. While my makeshift trellis may not have been Fifth Avenue, it had a modern patterning and was visually pleasing. It cost me only time and water and was a beautiful tribute to one of my favorite adages when facing seemingly impossible tasks, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Oftentimes, the recycling bin is an untapped treasure trove of garden supplies, from seed-starting containers to mini-greenhouses, seed storage containers and more. One of my favorite things to do is cut milk jugs for use as mini-greenhouses to start plants that will later be transplanted. Carefully puncturing the bottom of a plastic container several times can provide enough drainage to keep plants happy. Many gardeners of non-edible plants enjoy using colorful plastic or galvanized containers from a dollar store and simply drill holes in the bottom. I have seen gardeners turning to over-sized IKEA bags, five-gallon buckets, and storage bins for larger containers. The amount of DIY container gardening ideas on the internet are a veritable cornucopia of options.
You need only do a quick search for kitchen scrap gardening to find an array of information on how to regrow vegetables and use the waste from your kitchen to benefit your garden. Many greens can be regrown from their cores such as celery, bok choy, and even iceberg lettuce. I get the best results when I leave the tiny inner leaves on the core instead of entirely chopping the core off. This gives your new scrap plant more area to make food for itself and regrow faster. Just place the core in a small container of water in a sunny window and watch it grow! Once a scrap plant has formed a strong root system, it can be transplanted outdoors. For greens like bok choy and iceberg lettuce that really need cooler weather, wait until daily temperatures have cooled before transplanting. Green onions are one of the easiest plants to regrow and one of the biggest producers in my garden. They can be similarly started in water and transplanted into the ground or a container. You can even start saving seeds from kitchen scraps like heirloom tomatoes to plant in the springtime. For scraps that can’t be planted, beginning a compost is one way to begin building your own rich, healthy soil and natural fertilizer.
Seeds are one of the best ways to get a lot of plants for cheap, either by saving, swapping with a friend, our seed library, or purchasing for a few dollars. Making friends with other gardeners is also an excellent way to acquire new plants. As we tend to our gardens, it is easy to share extra seeds, plant starts, divisions, and cuttings by simply dropping them off to a friend’s doorstep. Many plants need only a small cutting to grow a whole new plant, and these propagations are a great way to share the joy of gardening. Whether you are planting in a large garden or containers on a windowsill, I wish you the joy and magic of watching things grow. A beautiful garden is within your reach with a little effort and creativity. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.