NEW JERSEY — They don’t call this The Garden State for nothing.
Want to bring out your inner green thumb this season? There’s no better time than now to get started on a kitchen garden.
“There is no mastery of gardening, you just get better at guessing,” said Bloomfield’s L. Be. Sholar, who offers gardening tips on her blog, Farm-Based Foodie.
“Rooting and fruiting” plants are great for growing outdoors, Sholar said. These include tomatoes, beans, potatoes, carrots, peppers and eggplant.
Leafy greens like lettuce and herbs can be grown outside, too, but are also great for growing indoors. All you need for growing is good soil, containers with drainage holes and seeds.
For beginner gardeners, herbs are good plants to start with because they can be grown both indoors and outdoors and do not require a whole lot of sunlight. Thyme, cilantro, rosemary, oregano, parsley and basil are easy-to-grow herb options that will pair nicely with a variety of home-cooked meals.
“In the beginning you have to keep the herbs moist, so they germinate,” said Cedar Grove Garden Center Store Manager Rafaela Dominguez.
Dominguez explained that herbs will grow bigger and stronger outside, but the usage of gardening pots with drainage holes make indoor growth possible.
When planting herbs indoors, put them near a southern-facing window because that is where they will get direct sunlight, according to William T. Hlubik, director of Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County and the Middlesex County Earth Center.
Certain plants need to be reseeded in containers every two weeks for a fresh supply, such as lettuce, basil, parsley and thyme, Hlubik said.
Mint is another tasty option that is easy to grow. “Mint is great to add to summer drinks,” Hlubik said. “It adds a unique burst of flavors to water or iced tea.”
MORE: 7 Ways to Enjoy Fresh Mint This Summer
Another planting tip: Use organic potting soil if you don’t want chemicals mixed into your soil.
“It’s nice to know what you’re putting in your body,” said David Williams, an owner and partner at Williams Nursery in Westfield.
To begin planting organically, Williams recommends buying small bags of organic soil and a terracotta pot, which is porous so it can give the roots adequate aeration. Put a saucer under the pot so it is not overwatered, Williams said.
Growing organic leaf-grown plants is another option, since they have not been sprayed with pesticides.
Looking for ways to enjoy your goodies once they’re grown? Get some tasty new salad dressing recipes here.
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