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!

Our first garden, if you can call it that, and the front porch is decorated

I am not a gardener, I'm sad to say. My mom has always had tons of beautiful flowers on three sides of the house, and my parents-in-law grow about 30 kinds of vegetables and other crops on their large lot, so my husband and I both grew up around it--but I know very little about it and never had any desire to spend much time in the garden!

But, I do appreciate doing things myself (duh), and the grow-your-own-food movement is one I can get on board with at least in theory. So this year, we're settled into our new place and felt ready to try some actual gardening! (In our rental places, I grew some herbs on the windowsill, and we have a lemon tree in a huge pot that we've carried from place to place, but I never wanted to put the effort in to really garden.)

We have two decks but no yard, so we're sticking to container gardening for now. I had no idea how to go about even something that simple, but we've cobbled together quite a nice little vegetable crop using tips from this amazing book my coworker found, tips from my mother-in-law, and the backs of seed packets.

My coworker found the Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Pacific Northwest at Powell's and picked it up because it was so simple and clear to understand, so much better than so many of the confusing gardening books I've seen before. It goes month by month, what you need to do to your garden, specific to this climate. I read through April before I had to give it back to her. ;) But we got through the planting part!

We bought some awesome railing planter boxes and some potting soil and planted a bunch of seeds a couple months ago. The lettuces grew super fast and we've harvested from them already twice now! We also got some tomato starts, and they're doing pretty well in big pots of their own. This year's been much warmer than the last two so hopefully the tomatoes will be ripe before September like they were last year--ridiculous!

We've also got a few little aluminum pots with herbs and chili peppers in them. The round one on the table there is regrown celery from this tutorial! Whoa!

Oh, about the table... possibly the most exciting part of our porch right now is the table and chairs since they mean we'll be able to actually SIT on it and spend some time out there! All winter there was NOTHING on our porch at all. Nothing. Which was handy for me taking book photos out there with the open lighting, but not fun for enjoying as a porch.

Now that the weather's been amazing, we've wanted to eat outside (and have a few times), but it's a pain to haul chairs out there and not have a place to put the plate. ;) So literally just yesterday, we picked up this bistro set from Craigslist. I think it's a few years old from Ikea, but it works just fine for now. I've been shopping around a little for patio sets, but nothing has been perfect and the $50 used set from Craigslist is more my speed right now than finding the perfect thing, anyway.

The hot pink rug I picked up at Ikea several months ago because I looooved it... those colors! So it sat rolled up in the closet until the weather got better recently and I unwrapped it. Always exciting to find new things you've already bought. ;)

So happy with how our summery porch is coming along! Hoping for more crops and meals spent outdoors soon!

Would love to hear your tips for small spaces and porches, and container gardening! Have you found any crops that work well? Particularly for the horticulturally challenged, like me?!


  1. We just planted our garden and I am so excited that things are growing! I didn't think to do celery and have to check out your tutorial and see if I still have time to get that going!

  2. That's totally a garden! Congratulations! We just moved into a more permanent home, but I just couldn't get a garden together this year. Your patio looks wonderful :)

  3. I love herbs! Herbs are really low-maintenance and it's always great to have fresh rosemary, thyme or oregano at home. Plants are also quite inexpensive and could be kept outside during the winter (here in London). i also love having peppermint plants, they are a bit more vulnerable to pests, but fresh peppermint tea is just so much better!

  4. That looks so nice! I wish I could do more gardening, I just don't have anywhere to do it right now! It's funny, when I lived at home gardening was such a chore and I NEVER wanted to do it. Now that I'm out on my own I wish I had a good space for it!

    and ash

  5. I recently made a film about container gardening for a class on sustainability. One of the tutorial we did was growing the seeds you get from fresh bell peppers. There are about 40 seeds in there, but we put half (yeah, a little too much for a 1 gallon pot... so you would think), and ALL of them sprouted. And I only watered it once! A week later, 3 sprouted, and two days later, there was almost 20. When I transferred them to a community garden after another week, there were about 25 sprouts. I think pepper don't need very big pots to grow, and when you get 25 extra peppers from one, why wouldn't you? Haha

  6. Awesome, I'll look forward to hearing about your garden this summer!!

  7. Fresh peppermint tea, whoa!! Never heard of making it at home but how wonderful that sounds!!

  8. Wow, that's incredible!! I can't believe I've never though to try that... I love bell peppers. Wonder how much soil they need... great idea!!

  9. Rosemary will grow into a nice bush in the PNW climate if you plant it in a permanent spot. Be wary of planting mint in the ground though, because it will take over!!

    I've tried to grow bell peppers in Tacoma, and I haven't had much luck. It always seems like it's too wet and cold for them, and maybe I get one tiny pepper by the end of the summer. Portland is a little bit hotter though, so maybe you'll have more luck!

    In the fall, I find that swiss chard and kale also grow really well. I planted chard last fall, harvested all winter long, and it's still going strong (for maybe a couple of weeks more, until it really gets hot here).

    Peas are also very nice in the spring, and very easy. I've planted them in a big pot and then stuck in a tomato cage for them to grow up on, and that worked pretty well.

  10. the lettuce looks delicious and crispy :)

  11. I also have a brown thumb, but we have a few raised beds at our new house, I will definitely check out that book for some tips on how to get started!

  12. i keep using not having a yard as an excuse, but this post might have changed my mind!

  13. It's a great start. One thing with outside planters: They need water more than you think they do, but don't let them drown after a heavy rain (just dump some of the water out). The trick to becoming 'a gardener' is to have a few fewer seedlings die every year until everything starts coming up roses ;-)

  14. Thanks for the ideas! I love wintery crops like kale, will have to try that. So true about the mint, it's like a weed! Would be nice to have some in a pot, though!

  15. Kale is also pretty in containers with other plants during the winter... the purples give a little pop of color that is really cold-hardy. I have seen it in city flower beds during the winter.



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