If you've ever considered growing your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs at home, you might have wondered how difficult it is to plant a spring garden. But whether you've held off because you don't have the time, don't have much outdoor space, or simply don't have a green thumb, you'll be surprised at how simple it is to get started.
We took a few tips from Greg Salmeri, owner of Los Angeles-based Rolling Greens, to learn how to grow a garden in just five, 10, and 15 minutes a day. If you're new to nurturing plants, you may identify as what Salmeri calls an aspirational gardener: “They really want to be out in the yard—and they appreciate the beauty of the yard—but they don’t feel like they have the time to dedicate to a successful garden,” he explains. Can you relate?
Meet the Expert
Greg Salmeri is the owner of Los Angeles-based Rolling Greens. The landscape designer also owns two thriving nurseries and home décor shops.
If so, you came to the right place. According to Salmeri, “A little attention in the yard goes a long way.” The expert has only taken one horticulture class in his time, and he learned everything else on the job. So even if you're unsure where to start, there's hope—and some of your favorite varieties are likely great candidates to plant in the spring.
Below, read on to learn Salmeri's tips for the best plants to grow in a spring garden.
If you have five minutes, this aromatic herb is among our favorites. Mint not only smells beyond refreshing and is a natural pest repellent, but it also makes an amazing tea for calming nerves and anxiety, Salmeri explains. Added bonus? “It’s rumored to soothe hangovers,” he quips. Perfect—because what else is mint great for? Mojitos.
How to Grow It: “Start with mint seeds and a large, deep pot about 10 inches in diameter. Mint will grow fast and sprawl,” the expert says. “Fill the container with potting soil and plant the seeds.”
Microgreens are another quick variety that only takes five minutes to get settled. These plants are exactly as their name suggests—small and packed with nutrients. Salmeri notes that microgreens have even more nutrients than their full-grown counterparts, depending on their species. As a bonus, preparing a dish with these plants is just as low-maintenance as growing them: Add vinaigrette dressing and strawberries, and you’ve got a seasonal salad.
How to Grow It: “Purchase a variety of seeds such as dill, beets, basil, kale, or Swiss chard. Fill a shallow pot with a drainage hole or a seedling tray with potting mix. Moisten the soil with water to make it damp, but not wet. Sprinkle in your seeds so they are close to each other, then sift a thin layer of soil over those seeds. Using a spray bottle, lightly mist that top layer of soil,” Salmeri explains.
Watering: “Place your seedlings on a sunny windowsill in a room that stays between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit,” he says. The tiny plant will germinate in three to five days and requires a swift daily misting of the soil.
If you have 10 minutes to spare, this one's for you. This root vegetable is best known to improve vision, but the phytochemicals in carrots can also reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. It will begin to sprout within two weeks after planting, and you can roast this superfood for a simple and healthy meal.
How to Grow It: “You’ll need carrot seeds and a container or window box that is 1.5 feet deep as well as wide. You’ll also want drainage holes at the bottom. Fill the container to just under an inch of the top of the container with potting soil,” says Salmeri, noting to water the soil before planting the seeds.
Next, he says, “Plant the seeds one inch apart in rows that are six inches apart from each other by gently pressing the seeds into the soil and then covering with a thin layer of that soil. Water again!”
It only takes 10 minutes to set this herb up for success. Among the many benefits of this fragrant and flavorful herb are anti-inflammation, cancer-fighting, and pain-reducing properties. It’s also great for cocktails, and it’s the MVP ingredient when making your own homemade pesto.
How to Grow It: “Purchase seeds and a container that is at least four inches wide with good drainage holes,” says Salmeri. “Basil loves warm temperatures and lots of sunlight—at least six hours of direct sunlight per day."
Watering: “You’ll need to water it once a day,” he notes. Fertilizing and pruning are also important: It’ll take 10 minutes once a month to fertilize the soil. The expert suggests using an organic fertilizer like compost tea. Regarding pruning, he explains to start once the plant is six inches in height, and bushier. “Also be sure to snip off any flowers that appear."
“Aside from the dreamy smell, this herb is rich in antioxidants that may help limit weight gain and improve cholesterol levels,” Salmeri says. We love using rosemary in cocktails, stir-fried dishes, and for seasoning in recipes like lemon and rosemary baked chicken.
How to Grow It: “Start by planting seeds or propagating cuttings in a container with holes in the bottom for drainage,” he says. “For rosemary, this requires 15 minutes since you need to curate the soil for the plant.” You'll need soil made from a mixture of two parts potting soil to one part coarse sand. “[Next], you’ll need to add one teaspoon of lime—the agricultural kind, not the citrus fruit—per five inches of pot in order to to make the soil alkaline."
Watering: “Water only when the top of the soil is dry to the touch,” Salmeri advises. “Be sure not to let the soil dry out completely,” he warns of the plant, which needs to live in a sunny spot and receive at least six hours of direct sunlight.
This fruit is among the top anti-cancer foods. Tomatoes get their red hue from a phytochemical called lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant. There is also evidence that supports the idea that the cancer-fighting potential is increased if tomatoes are consumed in the form of tomato sauce. Hello, pizza and pasta.
How to Grow It: “Start with a six-inch pot for one plant and fill the container with starter potting soil,” Salmeri says. “Plant the seeds about 1/4 inch deep. Water and keep the soil moist but not soggy, then place the container in an area that receives a substantial amount of light.” Be sure to turn the pot every few days so that all sides soak in the sunshine.
Expect the seeds to germinate within five to 10 days. “When they hit three inches, transplant them from starter mix to potting soil. Two weeks after transplanting, add in organic fertilizer."
Watering: “Follow the rule of keeping them moist, but not soggy,” he says. The plant may also need to be staked as it grows to avoid breakage.
Want to know how simple growing scallions is? Seeds aren’t required: The spring onion, part of the Allium family, is associated with protecting the body from free radicals and assists in cancer protection, Salmeri notes. It’s also a great alternative to onions because its flavor is less pungent.
How to Grow It: “Buy a bunch of scallions, preferably from the farmers market, and place the entire bunch (yes, the whole thing) in a glass with one inch of water,” Salmeri explains. Change the water daily, which should take less than five minutes. “When new green shoots appear and the roots have doubled in length (it should take about seven to 10 days), plant the scallions in a small shallow pot."
Watering: “Keep the plants evenly watered,” advises Salmeri. Don’t let the soil get too dry before rehydrating again. The scallions should also receive full sun, which is at least six hours per day.
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