If you’re like us, you too have probably (unintentionally) killed a plant. This, along with a host of other excuses (apartment living, a lack of time, general feelings of inadequacy, etc.) had prevented us from growing our own plant gardens. That was until we visited long-time Coed friend Rachel’s guerilla garden that she’s been slowly cultivating over the past year. She, by the way, lives in an apartment and still manages to make it work. She’s planted pretty much any herb you could think of – thyme, rosemary, lavender, basil, and more – and even tried her hand at some vegetables. Look at her! She just makes it look so easy.
Rachel had our ear when she reassured us that in fact, it is that easy. So, we spent a morning in Rachel’s garden learning how to become plant parents. And let us be the ones to now reassure you, it really is that easy!
Here’s what you’ll need to get started:
Plant of Choice
Some of our picks are parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, mint, lavender, basil and cilantro.
This can be small or big. The bigger the pot, the more room your plant has to grow. If you’re planting in a vegetable bed, give each plant adequate space. If you’re unsure, consult Google for specific information on the plant you’re planting.
Rachel recommends splurging on a 10-15 lb bag of soil with worm castings. This usually costs around $20. Her bag has lasted for more than half a year.
Shovel & Hand Rake
Rachel’s tip: If you don’t want to commit to buying a hand rake, use a fork to till the soil instead!
You will first need to till the soil. Using a hand rake, break up the soil to ensure it has enough air flow. Then, dig a hole and sprinkle a generous amount of fresh soil in and around the hole. After you place your plant in the hole, cover it with more soil making sure to not pack anything too tight. Airflow here is key.
The key to watering is making sure your soil remains moist. Because Rachel lives in Southern California and her plants are in direct sunlight, she waters them every day. If you live in a more humid climate, you will probably not need to water as often.
Parsley: You’ll want to pick the bigger leaves toward the outside of the plant. Pinch an inch or so away from the root to remove these.
Basil: if it starts to flower, pinch the flowers at the root and remove them. When you prune or pick your basil leaves, make sure that you leave two leaves intersecting at the base of each little stem. This will allow new growth on the same stem. See photos for reference.
“If you’re planting mint, keep it in a separate pot or planter. Its root system will overtake anything else it’s planted with.
The softer the leaf (i.e. dill) the more sensitive, and may require some trial and error to get the watering just right.
The harder the leaf (i.e. sage) the more durable.
As a general rule of thumb, if a plant’s leaves turn yellow telling you that it’s being overwatered. If a plant’s leaves turn brown, it’s being underwatered.
It’s okay to “stress” (aka underwater) your plant for a day or two and bring it back to life. A plant that works harder actually produces more complex flavors.
And on that note, don’t give up on a plant quickly – they are resilient. I have nursed a basil plant burnt in a heatwave by trimming it down to a short stub and watering it every day. It came back to life!
You can also plant indoors! A window with adequate sunlight will work just as well as outside. You may just have to adjust how much you water the plant.
Consult Google for precise sunlight and watering information on your plant baby!”
Bonita Crop in White with her favorite pair of vintage overalls.