Joy the Baker

One Pot Spring Garden

April 19, 2009

One Pot Spring Garden

There are a few reasons why you should read this post.

1.  I’m no gardener, but with a team of friends and experts, I might have just created a successful one pot garden… you can too!

2.  While this post may not be filled with butter and sugar, it is still a nice distraction from work, right!?

3.  I’m drinking wine and I’ve got a mild degree of writers block.  I’m bound to get a little punchy and make you laugh at some point.  Yes?

This year’s Spring garden… ok, my first Spring garden ever… was inspired by two things: my undying adoration of summer tomatoes and my utter annoyance at the high price of said tomatoes.

So here we are, talking tomatoes. Not just any tomatoes, but peak of the season summer tomatoes.  Besides my gradual fake tanning lotion, they might just be the best thing about the summer months.

The truth is, there’s a reason that this blog isn’t called Joy the Gardener.  I kill just about everything I put in dirt.  It’s a classic case of over enthusiasm and waaaaay too much water.  I over water and kill my plants, a fact that is sad but true.

This Spring I’ve got help.  My Mom happens to be an amazing gardener… she also happens to be retired, which leaves her plenty of time for nursery trips to counsel me on which fertilizer is best and why.  Then there’s my darling friend Rachael.  She’s blonde, beautiful, hilarious, and is oh-so-generous with the crap ton of knowledge she has about growing tomatoes.  With these two on my team, my garden can’t fail!  Now I just need someone to keep the watering can away from me.

If I can grow a tomato garden on the tiny balcony of my Los Angeles apartment, you can too.  Here’s the skinny:

One Pot Spring Garden

One Pot Spring Garden

One Pot Spring Garden

I headed out to the nursery with my Mom.  It turns out… there are a TON of plants at a nursery… most of them being green.  It might have been hard for me to find what I needed, had it not been for my Mom.  It’s not that things are hard to find, it’s just that I’m not tremendously plant literate.

I had a very specific  One Pot Garden list.  If you want to play along, here’s what you’ll need

1 tomato plant  (Mine is a black cherry tomato plant.. thanks Rachael!)

1 basil plant

1 marjoram plant

1 parsley plant

1 nasturtium plant

1 giant bag of  Dr. Earth Organic Potting Soil

1 small bag of organic vegetable fertilizer of some sort.  I used GroBetter All-Purpose Organic Fertilizer.

I stake to tie your tomato plant to as it grows

1 giant pot and saucer.  Mine is about 15-inches tall and with a 15-inch diameter.  I used a plastic pot because it’s much lighter and it helps keep the moisture in the soil.

One Pot Spring Garden

One Pot Spring Garden

Here’s what I did:

Fill the pot about two thirds full with the potting soil.  Sprinkle with organic fertilizer as directed on the bag.  Water just to moisten the soil.  Fertilizer isn’t one of those things that you want to touch with your hands.  It’s just not a good idea.  Grab some gloves or use a scooper.

Arrange the plants in the pot, still in their plastic containers, just so you can see where everything will go.

Remove the plants from their tiny plastic containers and gently loosen the bottom of the soil, loosening their roots.  Set in place on top of the potting soil and fertilizer.  Using a large cup for scooping, place more potting soil around the plants.  Sprinkling with just a bit more fertilizer as you go.  Firmly press the potting soil and plants into the pot and add more potting soil.  You won’t fill the pot to the brim with potting soil.  Fill the pot with soil until you’re about three inches from the brim.  Water generously and set in a sunny spot.

Set the stake to the side and use it when the tomato plant starts to get too talk to grow up on its own.

One Pot Spring Garden

Fun facts:

Tomatoes like loads of sunlight.  Don’t be afraid to put your new garden in a spot that gets at least seven hours of direct sunlight.  Your plants will love it.

Check to see if your pot needs watering by sticking your finger into the soil.  The soil should be moist and cool.  If it feels a little dry, water away… otherwise, just leave it be.

Why put all those plants in one pot!?  It turns out that all those plants work together like a team.  Whether its keeping pests away, or replenishing the soil with nutrients, all the plants in that one pot are extremely happy.  And!  Nastrutium flowers are edible.  They’re a a great, peppery addition to a salad!

Having a little garden is unbelievably satisfying.  I sit on my otherwise uninviting balcony sometimes just to watch my plants grow.  Now my balcony is like a bonus room.   I also run my fingers through the leaves of my growing tomato plant to get that fresh tomato smell on my hands.  Yes, dorky but true.

Even if you live in a tiny apartment, as long as you have a space with loads of sunlight, you can have a coy little one pot garden!  It’s true!  It makes life better! Let’s do this together!

More tomato posts and garden updates to come.


74 Comments Add A Comment

  • Gardening is amazing. And even though I have a yard, I still grow everything in pots because they’re so much easier to control, temperature and moisture-wise. I hope it’s a great experience for you! If you start feeling the call of the garden, pick up some Swiss chard seedlings–mine have grown extremely fast and taste so good!

  • Yeah! I am so happy when I hear someone is gardening! I have been a gardener for over 20 years now and I can’t even begin to tell you how rewarding it is going to be for you.

  • Joy, this is exactly what I’m going to do in my new garden! I’m so excited about growing vegies again, albeit on a patio. Thanks for the inspiration :)

  • Axelle, the french reader April 20, 2009 at 1:13 am

    PS : Toulon, in france, not in Illinois !

  • Axelle, the french reader April 20, 2009 at 1:13 am

    Hello Joy, I’m a french reader, living in Toulon and I love your website that I read each day.
    I had exactly the same “garden love” than you, this spring and I made almost the same plants choice. So, I just want to tell : be careful, basil is very “fragile” (sorry, I don’t know the english word). He doen’t need too much water !! I killed 4 basil plants before deciding to let him die of thirst !!!
    I watch my “garden” each day, waiting anxiously, to see my little tomatoes, my little strawberries growing up.
    That’s a good occupation.
    Friendly.

  • Ok, I’ll have to try this with my boys. Since it can all be grown in one pot.. Very cool, I had no idea that things ‘work’ together like that.

  • I, too, kill everything I try to plant and I’m pretty sure it’s because I over water my plants as well. I can’t even grow wild flowers (you know, those flowers that are supposed to grow by themselves?)

  • Good luck with gardening!

  • As a fellow gardener, it has been my experience that out of all the plants you have chosen, the nasturtium are going to be the most robust in growing, to the point of being somewhat invasive…..

    Anyhow, good luck with your potted garden.

  • I love that the plants use team work! This was a totally great post (and believe you me, it didn’t take any convincing to get me to read this post; I always look forward to your posts). You’re making me and my black-thumb self want to get down with some gardening! Perhaps, I, too, will have a one-pot adventure!

  • but Phoo-D! A steak sounds so much more delicious!

  • We were gardening today too! The chives went in along with some tomato and eggplant seeds. I do believe that you might want to tie a “stake” to your tomatoes (though I’m sure they are delicious with a steak!). Fun stuff – love the photos!

  • Living in a condo makes a potted garden a must. I cannot WAIT for the nights to warm up enough to start planting – and reading this has inspired a few new ideas. Thanks Joy!

  • What a great idea, that is something I can do with my daughter during the summer and than we can get some of your receipes and make something yummy. Thank you from Texas

  • I’m totally inspired, thanks! I hope I don’t kill mine. I am notorious for that.

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