Spring is my favourite time of year for so many reasons. The days start getting longer, the temps warm up a little, and there’s this sense of survival, of people coming out of hibernation. I absolutely love it.
Spring fashion - a fave of mine for sure. Buying plants? A hobby I will never give up. AND it’s gardening season! Our community gardens filled up so fast this year, so I didn’t get a spot - sighhhh. But I'm going to fill my little balcony with all sorts of planters and hope to get some goodies.
Since it’s garden planning time, I thought I would share my favourite few veggies to grow that otherwise would come in single use plastic at the store. Growing your food is the ultimate zero waste activity, but there are a few things that almost always come in plastic at the store, and are dead easy to grow instead.
First thing on the list - cherry tomatoes.
So tasty, and always in plastic. You can buy a cherry tomato plant at basically any greenhouse. Better yet - go bigger with the tomato plants that are potted and have the cage around them already. Then you just have to get them outside, in some sunshine. Last year we grew four cherry tomato plants on our balcony, and our harvest was pretty impressive!
Tips on growing cherry tomatoes
- don’t try to grow from seed unless you are expert. And it’s already too late for growing from seed
- Buy a hearty looking plant, I always look for a thick trunk and lots of leaves
- As your plant grows, tuck the offshoots into the cage to keep the plant well supported
- Water at least twice a week, and try to give them a drink in the morning instead of night
- Make sure they get lots of sunshine! As much as possible.
While a few patio tomato plants won’t mean you aren’t buying tomatoes for months - it does mean that you will be cutting back on the amount of plastic clamshells, and any little bit helps! PLUS is there anything better than picking and eating a little tomato that is juicy and warm from the sunshine? Love it.
Second up - Growing your own herbs
We grow these year round on our window sill. While I can never keep basil alive... parsley, oregano, chives, and thyme are all pretty doable. It’s so hard to find herbs plastic free at the grocery store. And it’s really hard to keep them fresh when you get them home. That’s why growing them is a really good zero waste hack! Plant them, pop them on your windowsill, water them every few days. And enjoy!
If you aren’t choosing to grow your own, there are a couple of easy zero waste ways to keep your herbs fresh. Best trick ever - wrap them in wax wrap. Wrap them nice and tight and keep them in the fridge. This seriously makes your herbs last. Cilantro seems to wilt instantly, but if you wrap it in wax wrap it lasts for a couple of weeks - wax wraps work miracles on your herbs. So whether you’re growing your own, or picking them up from the store. Wrap them in wax wraps once they are cut, and they will last very happily in your fridge.
You can also keep your herbs trimmed and in a glass of water. Just like how you would treat cut flowers. Change the water daily, make sure they have clean cut stems every other day, and they will be happy on your countertop. Truth be told though, a little labour intensive and the wax wraps really do work better.
Now, how to take care of your indoor herb garden...
I water my box of herbs every other day, and fertilize once every couple of weeks. When the weather warms up I will get my herb box outside, but it has lasted really well all winter inside! Aside from my basil…. Replaced it three times and I just keep killing it. If you have any tips on growing basil - leave a comment! I need some serious help in this department.
Last on the list - GREENS!
All sorts of greens! Spinach, swiss chard, beet tops, arugula, the options are endless. And the best part is you can harvest baby greens so quickly! Pop the seeds into your pots, water them everyday/every other day when the top soil feels dry, and you will be eating fresh greens in a few weeks!
Greens are seriously the easiest to grow. A little water, a little sunshine, and they are happy and healthy. And the harvest is pretty huge! I keep my plastic clamshells from grocery store greens, and reuse them for the greens that we grow. Or I just trim out of my pot and use them on the spot. You can also use your plastic clamshells as the pot - pop in some soil, plant your seeds, and you’re patio gardening!. The plastic is nice because you can actually see how wet the soil is. Reuse your clamshells as much as possible.
Alright, so to run through things again. Grow baby tomatoes on your balcony because they are easy, delicious, and plastic free! Try your hand at a pot of fresh herbs. Pick your favourites, and you will love to harvest and use them on the spot. So satisfying. Lastly, try growing some baby greens! Low maintenance, with a quick harvest.
Just remember... water at least a couple of times a week, and make sure all of your veggies get some sunshine.