In my post about what to plant in June, a reader comment provided me with an idea for a blog post. This reader wanted to know how he could start small with one edible plant.
Here’s his question.
Great post Deb! What do you recommend for someone like myself who would like to try and start an extremely small indoor garden…I would like to start with one herb or vegetable that I can place in a simple pot, next to a window sill that faces south (in the northern hemisphere), receives small amounts of sunlight, and can be watered ‘somewhat’ regularly (I travel quite a bit)? I envision myself having a great garden like yours one day, but want to try a single plant that I can eat. If I plant indoors on August 1st, what do you recommend that I grow?
My Answer: I told him that mint is a trooper and will do well in nearly any condition. Another benefit is that it can be used in lots of recipes (and to flavor water and tea, which is especially nice on hot days). Rosemary is a tough and resilient plant; it likes bad soil and being ignored, which is great for new gardeners who, like my reader, travel a lot. I use rosemary in Spanish tortilla and when cooking lamb. Greek oregano is resilient, yet I found I did not use it a whole lot. =-)
My reader’s city, Washington, DC, is Zone 7 on the USDA hardiness scale. He wants to plant something around August 1. For the time period he mentioned, the USDA recommends the following vegetables: tomatoes, potatoes, and squash. If he waits until September 1—or at least mid-August—he can plant lettuce, which usually does well in shallow dirt.
As for the veggies the USDA recommends, I will mention some details about each briefly. Tomatoes: These love sun. I am not sure how many hours of sun he gets. If just a few hours per day, then I’d buy a seedling (instead of growing from seed) and see how it does. He could grow a potato or two. The upside is that this is a high-calorie crop. If he grow potatoes, I recommend getting seed potatoes from Seed Savers. Squash is not a good idea for indoors, because they need loads of room.
Here is my fave resource about what you can plant when.
In sum, I suggested he plant mint or rosemary since he won’t be around a lot to water. When you are first starting out, it’s nice to grow something that doesn’t require constant attention while you get the hang of gardening. Mint and rosemary are, by far, the most resilient of all the plants I mentioned above.
Are you ready to get started with gardening? What will you plant this week?
The photo above is by Daryl Mitchell and appears on Flckr. License grants use with attribution.