This month we’re sharing a story from our gardener Erica, who has endeavored to grow an expansive container garden on her front porch. I’ve been intrigued about this garden since March when we walked twenty containers up her porch stairs, and she said she still wanted more! Here’s what Erica has to say about her unique garden: 

While I love being close to amenities and living in town, with the cost of food rising and the supply chain issues, I started to get interested in growing my own food. I watched and helped my great grandmother in her garden yearly until she passed in 2021 at the ripe age of 100 (nearly 101), but her garden had always been in her yard. That was not an option for me because I wanted to save what yard space I have (which isn’t much) for my family to use for recreation. Luckily, I do have plenty of space on my porch which gave me the idea to start container gardening.

My first step was to look up city ordinances because I also wanted to start a compost pile. I learned that in my city there were rules about where you can plant and keep compost.

My second step was to decide which crops I would grow and how to grow them. That’s when I found the Grow Ohio Valley Backyard Gardeners program. After I had signed up, I looked through the available plants and seeds and decided on: popcorn, corn, beans, lettuce, spinach, potatoes, and sunflowers.

Third, I decided that I wanted to try and start some crops early before the last frost, so I went to Walmart and bought a grow light and a seedling starter kit and planted some of my seeds. To keep them safe from my cats I grew them in my bathroom cabinet. All the crops that I started early ended up sprouting.

Once spring arrived, I knew that I wanted a raised container garden so I wouldn’t have to stoop to care for it. With the rising cost of lumber my husband and I decided to find free pallets, which can be found around town behind your favorite stores. I just called and made sure that it was alright if we took them. We did have to end up buying some wood for the legs, but the tops of the tables were pallets. Backyard Gardeners provided me with 20 containers with soil which I used up immediately so I went on the hunt for more. I found Dollar Tree, yard sales, and thrift stores to be the most budget friendly way to obtain more containers and I got creative. One of my sunflowers is planted in a Halloween bucket.

I took my seedlings outside several days to get used to the outside before permanently planting them in their containers. I already had a hose that had several different settings, so I chose the mist option which was the gentlest. I watered my plants daily until they seemed to have a good root system and then I moved to a few times a week.

I received my sprouted potatoes about a month after I received my seeds and planted them in a large flat felt container (that I bought from a local discount store) that I set on some free pallets for drainage, and they grew fast.

I was able to harvest the first of my crops yesterday 6/6/2022. I made a salad with Breen lettuce and baby spinach. I am excited to see what the rest of this season brings.