Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!

I'm learning to grow a garden.

My mom is a great gardener, and I did not inherit the green thumb.  She has several amazing gardens, understands which plants need sun or shade, when to plant what, how often to water... but she never had enough sunlight at the house I grew up in to grow food or veggies.

Now, living on my own, I would love to grow a few simple plants--tomatoes, lettuce, maybe kale--but don't really know how to start.  We don't have a yard, but have a small patio and of course, windowsills.
A year or so ago I bought a little herb kit at JoAnn because the pots were cute, and planted basil, chives, and parsley.  They did really well until I went to France for two weeks and my sweet fiancé forgot to water them!  But this spring I planted more, except this time just basil--it's my favorite.  You can write the titles with the chalk provided, but I didn't want to write "Basil," "Basil," and "Basil," so I wrote fake titles, haha!

I love fresh basil and never want to spend $5 on the fresh package thing at the grocery store, and always forget to go to the farmer's market.  So I love having my own I can use!  I planted the three cute pots, and this pretty vintage planter all full of basil.  They live on the windowsill in the kitchen.

Hm... they may be too close together.
But, I may get a BUNCH of delish basil!

What about you?  Do you grow your own food?  Any tips for a total newbie with very little time, space, or knowledge?


  1. I'm doing the same thing! My mom is an awesome gardener, too, and I kill everything. But this year I grew some herbs and they are actually thriving! You'll be just fine.

  2. You could grow Rosemary, it does well in pots or the ground, my sister has a huge one in the backyard of her home in Porltand. If you have it in a pot you can bring it in for winter. You could also go to Portland Nursery, I'm sure someone there would be happy to help you find a few things for your small area...Have fun!

  3. One of my thumbs is green and the other is not. ;) I do pretty well...sometimes! I LOVE basil. It's my absolute favorite and I've been growing it for several summers! This summer we have some container gardens and are growing tomatoes, peppers, basil, leeks, corn, parsley, chives, and rosemary. And a pineapple plant!

    Good luck with your "parsley" and "chives"! I hope you get a TON of basil. =)

  4. You should end up with enough basil to keep you happy, just remember to cut it back before it flowers. I don't have a yard, so grow my garden on my balcony. This year I'm growing 3 kinds of tomatoes, basil, oregano, squash and cukes. And some flowers....Growing in pots has advantages, really cuts down on the pests and the weeds...

    Karen in VA

  5. The basil pots are adorable! We've been growing basil outside on our patios in three states (Virginia, Florida and California... we move a lot!) for four years now and I LOVE having fresh basil to cook with all the time. You may want to pull most of those sprouts,though. Keep the biggest and pull the rest, so that they have room. Otherwise, they won't grow very big before they feel suffocated. And I totally second the rosemary. It's super easy to grow and it will grow to the size of your pot and hang out forever! You don't have to water it but two or three times a week, too.
    Good luck!

    Rebekah in Cali

  6. Awe! I am sure you will get the hang of it. I love gardening so much and my husband and I we love to plant our vegetable garden every year. It gets bigger and bigger every year as well. LOL! When you plant them and you see the little guys too crowded, you need to thin them a bit as they won't grow that big especially in a small pot. Yes, they do suffocate as they won't have enough room to grow. :) Like Bek said, keep the ones that are already bigger and strong and the rest, off with their heads! LOL! Those pots are darling. Good luck!

    Adin B

  7. Don't worry. I'm just like you. I didn't inherit my dad's natural green thumb. He has an uncanny knack for growing just about anything from orchids to eggplant, which he loves both! I have the same small herb kit and I can say I am successfully growing all the herbs, except my parsley is barely making it. I use all three of them in all my good cooking. The one thing I did inherit from my dad. Good luck!

  8. I do! I love growing things. In my old apartment, I had a little porch, so I had a decent porch sized garden. Now I just have windowsills and a fire escape, and some of my plants are suffering. Basil can be a little tricky b/c it needs a lot of sunlight. If there's not enough light or water, it gets all pale and limp (if I were a plant, I'd be basil). It's my favorite though, so that's what I do!

    Chives are pretty forgiving and versatile in cooking--I would try those (don't plant from seed though, that's tricky). I love growing tomatoes in pots. Last year I had two big plants that gave me lots of tomatoes. Unfortunately I've killed about five this year and now have none. Just make sure you put your herbs (especially basil) in south/west facing windows!

  9. I have my first garden this year. I've always kept flowers, but now I've expanded to a bunch of vegetables, fruit and basil (I would say herbs, but really, I'm only growing basil). In my garden are carrots, spinach, cucumbers for pickling, mesclan, potatoes, corn, watermelon, and sunflowers. I ran out of room for tomato plants and have not had time to get planters for some.

    Everything is thriving so far and I've already enjoyed some spinach.

  10. Anonymous7/02/2011

    Don't pick the leaves; take off the tops of the plants. The basil will branch out each time you do this, making it bushy instead of tall (with more leaves).

  11. omg i love basil too! we started with just one basil plant in our garden. but soon demand exceeded supply and we had to grow three more!!! but yes! it's so costly to get fresh basil at the supermarket!!!

    i hope your basil grow quickly! think of all the lovely dishes you can make with them!!

    i occasionally post entries about my garden. i love it! gardening is so exciting!!!


  12. oh yes, i pick the basil flowers whenever they start to show. and you should only pick the top basil leaves when there are about 3-4 sets of leaves below. hope that helps!

  13. Wonderful! Love the blackboard paint pots. I tried without success to grow herbs, so have now discovered that succulents are the plants for me!

  14. Those are super cute and a great way to label pots. Basil is my favorite too but I'd be careful about having so much on it. it's a hearty plant and if you give it a larger pot it can grow to a really large size. My friend had a basil plant that was 4 feet tall. Then again, she's the queen of planter gardens.

  15. I live in Portland also and have a bunch of beds at my house. I would recommend getting some cherry tomato plants in planters. For Portland these types of tomatoes are the best because the fruit will ripen quicker. We don't have the extreme heat that other areas have. Sage is also really easy to grow and lasts through the winter here.
    I blog about my garden on wednesdays if you are interested in seeing what other Portland gardens can produce.

  16. Those pots are adorable! I've been gardening for a few years, first in community gardens and now in my new back yard. You get better the longer you do it. When you thin your plants, make sure you don't pull them out by the roots (you don't want to disturb the roots of the plants you're leaving). If they're little, just pinch them off at the soil with your fingernails, and if they're larger, use a pair of kitchen scissors.

    If you do choose to grow tomatoes, they're slightly odd plants. They grow pretty well no matter what, but there are some things you can do to make them grow even better: they like to be buried when you plant them (pick off the lower leaves and plant them an inch or two deeper than they were planted as seedlings), they don't like to get their leaves wet, so water them at the base, and brush your hands across their leaves once in a while, because they like the oils in your fingers. As I said, tomato plants are odd creatures. :)

  17. A word of advice for the future: I always get starter herb plants from the hardware store or nursery, because that way you can taste the leaves and decide if you like the taste before you buy it! Sometimes herbs can be a little flavorless if you grow them from seed. Here in Tacoma there are a bunch of people who sell cool herb starts at farmer's markets as well. You can get cinnamon basil, which is more peppery and good for Asian/Thai dishes.

    I have a whole bunch of pots on my windowsill in the winter for the more tender herbs, but in the summer I like to keep most of my herbs out on the deck, and I leave the hearty ones, like sage and thyme, out all winter. Basil grows better at my house outside, because its hotter and gets more direct sun. I recommend it if you have any kind of outdoor space at your new place!

    Mint is also super easy to grow in the Northwest. I grow a couple of different kinds (chocolate mint and Kentucky mint) for use in drinks. Be sure to keep these in the pot though, because if they get into the garden they grow like weeds!

  18. Oh, and if you're considering planing tomatoes like the others suggested, go to a good nursery and ask their advice. They'll tell you what tomatoes are easiest for a newbie, and they won't sell tomatoes that won't do well in your area. The guy at my nursery told me not to plant heat loving plants, like tomatoes and basil, in Tacoma until June, and I'm sure its pretty close in Portland too. You can plant them sooner if its a really warm spring/summer, but last year I planted early and had two dead tomato plants for my pains. (They don't like water on their leaves much, as thisdamselflies said, and so any kind of wet spring like this year will just kill them. So sad!)



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