green thumb love affair

it started 3 years ago with an orchid from my mom and a pineapple plant for the new apartment. now, as i sit on my patio among my jungle i can't help but smile at how much things have changed. this is my transition from a plant-mom to an apartment farmer with a green thumb love affair. 


la maison des alberts

a patio jungle all our own

i have always loved flowers. bouquets, gardens, pots, it doesn't matter - if it has some color it makes me happy. oh, and yes, green is considered a color in this sense. after my first orchid bloomed, i picked up another so one was blooming while the other was regrowing. and i repeated this cycle until i had 4 in my care on constant rotation.

my 4 orchids (and baby aloe) all managed to live on a bar cart for a while

caring for them was easy - they need low light (perfect in our cave-like first apartment) and an ice cube or two every other weekend. easy.  but Jas needs them to have a purpose, so we started small with herbs and the pineapple, Dylon. we both wanted them and we LOVE food, so it was only natural that we try maintaining edible plants that we could both get enjoyment from. unfortunately, no mater how hard we tried, there just wasn't enough sun to keep them happy and alive. so 1 pineapple and 3 sets of herbs later, we gave up.

so for the 3 years in our midtown apartment i settled with orchids and he didn't see the purpose. every time we were outside - at a friend's house or on a restaurant patio - i would say "i cannot wait until we can have plants". then we moved and the plant selection changed. 

the first weekend we moved in, we assessed the patio lighting situation. we tracked how long the sun each section of the patio and determined we could definitely maintain some plants. so we adventured to The Home Depot - it's only natural of course. when we got there, a whole new world opened up to us. we walked up and down the garden section for over 2 hours, just looking then picking out the perfect babies to try. on our first trip we gathered most of herb "essentials", ones we knew we would cook with. Jas kept saying "let's get these and wait to make sure we don't kill them before we buy more." my response - "we've got this" as i placed a couple more in the cart. the eye roll i received was deserved i know, but look at us now!

when you come in for paint and leave with the entire garden center

we never realized just how much we loved "gardening" - apartment style that is - where you don't have to manage stubborn weeds or rig up a sprinkler system. we wake up, get dressed, feed Tucker and water our little garden each and every morning before heading to work. it's easy. when we come home, we check to make sure everyone still has enough water (including Tucker) and then just sit and admire all the green things. right now, we have a total of 27 plants on our patio, 9 of which are not edible - everything else is fair game. so far, we have harvested 3 black cherry tomatoes, 5 patio tomatoes, 5 strawberries, multiple sprigs of each herb and banana peppers are well on their way. being able to make meals with our own homegrown food is more rewarding than i imagined. 

if you've been considering plants for yourself, do it! if you always walk by plants and think about how much you would love them, go get some. it's easy to tell yourself you're not a green thumb, but it's honestly not as difficult as you might think, if you take a couple things into account before purchasing. 

  1. assess your sun situation - this will truly make all the difference in the world. if you don't get a lot of sun, edible plants might not be an option at this time, but there are plenty of "jungle" beauties that would love your shady spots, like orchids, calla lilies and aloe.
  2.  consider your effort level - this is crucial. do you want to take the time to water your green babies every day or just water once in a while and leave them? if you think of watering your garden as part of your routine, it's really not that bad, but it does take us an extra 10 minutes to get out the door in the morning now. if you want to leave and let be consider cacti, succulent, aloe and some jungle plants. if you're fine watering your plants every day consider herbs, fruits and veggies.
  3. measure your space - is your patio skinny, but tall? think about creating a plant wall with tension rods so you can suspend plants higher while still having room for seating. edibles like strawberries, oregano and thyme do well hanging. or flowers like rose moss and creeping jenny will look gorgeous falling over their baskets. where as tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers grow up and need a wide base to get tall and strong. consider using a table to keep your high-sun needing plants on top with some shade-lovers underneath to save space while maximizing your greens. you can also plant multiple smaller items in one pot, like herbs. 
  4. think about what you eat - if you have decided you have enough sun and edible plants are your goal, think about the meals you like to cook. is mexican your food of choice? consider cilantro and tarragon as your herb options with tomatoes and peppers for salsa. are you an italian lover? aim for basil, oregano and thyme for your herbs with tomatoes for pasta sauce. 

for our full sun, with some shade, patio our current outside plant list includes:

  • pineapple
  • lavender
  • hot n' spicy oregano
  • sweet mint
  • sage
  • rosemary
  • german thyme
  • sweet basil
  • cilantro
  • patio tomatoes
  • black cherry tomatoes
  • hot n' spicy banana peppers
  • orange snacking peppers
  • mexican tarragon
  • italian parsley
  • strawberries
  • garlic
  • bees balm
  • lemon balm
  • snake plant
  • jungle plant (i forget his name)
  • citronela
  • sylvia
  • snap dragons
  • dusty miller fern
  • rose moss
  • house fern

i am sure, the longer we are here, the more this will grow. one day i am hoping for a jungelow (jungle bungalow) and currently we are well on our way. have you recently become more than a plant-mom and adventured into farmer territory? or are you killing it as a plant-parent and love showing off your beauties? i'd love to hear about what you're growing; comment below with your list.