“It’s just a really fun and easy thing to do,” said Catherine Priester, junior in environmental science. “It is a good way to save money, so it’s the best of both worlds if you like having fresh vegetables, and you don’t mind putting in a little bit of work.”
Priester planted her first garden in the spring of last year, but it didn’t produce anything because the spot didn’t get enough sun.
“This year I’ve done containers in my front yard so you can move them to where the sun is most available, and if you rent, you don’t have to dig up your landlord’s yard, which is kind of a problem in some places,” Priester said. “I mean, if you have a tiny apartment and all you have is a little balcony or porch, you can plant in them and it’s really easy.”
Wheeler Foshee, professor of vegetable production in the College of Agriculture, said growing in containers is obviously different from planting in the ground, but it can be done according to what you plan to grow.
Foshee said to plant squash this time of year.
A rectangular planter potted with a couple of squash plants and placed outside of an apartment would be effective, he said.
According to Foshee, cabbage and leaf lettuce also work well in containers.
Even though it’s late in the summer, several vegetables can still be planted for harvest.
“You know in Alabama, we can nearly grow vegetables year-round, particularly from central Alabama, south,” Foshee said. “So yeah, you can plant squash still, and you can in 45 days be picking squash.”
Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, collards, turnips, mustard and Irish potatoes can be planted now.
According to Foshee, cabbage, broccoli and collards can even survive in the cold.
In Priester’s garden now are three tomato plants in her southern-facing front yard, where they receive the most sun.
She has compost hidden in the back to use as fertilizer.
“I started my tomato plants a little bit late, so they are still little green tomatoes right now, but I feel like it’s going to be hot long enough where I can have tomatoes in September at least,” Priester said.
To Foshee, the novelty and the freshness of growing one’s own vegetables outweigh the immediate financial savings.
“The novelty aspect is like, ‘Hey, I grew this vegetable and I’m going to get to eat it,’” Foshee said. “There is something really cool about that.”
Foshee said he has met a lot of students who are interested in where their food comes from, and they are interested in growing something themselves.
Ashley Culpepper, junior in agriculture communications, is a student in Foshee’s vegetable production class.
Culpepper said after the class she hopes to apply what she has learned.
“My grandparents have a garden, and my parents have a little garden in the back, so anything I learned I can use with that,” Culpepper said.
For those wanting to start a garden, but are unsure where to begin, Priester said start with herbs.
Herbs use small containers that can easily sit in a window and require only occasional watering.
“You don’t have to worry really much about bugs, and you can start using them really fast,” Priester said. “You can grow some rosemary or basil really quickly and start using it in your recipes.”
Foshee said with first gardens, there are a lot of failures because most people aren’t sure exactly what to do.
“Start small,” Foshee said, “and don’t give up because chances are you may have some failures, but you learn and keep going. That’s part of gardening. Gardening is like farming—it’s tough—but there’s a lot of good information out there.”
For more information on agriculture and gardening, including when to plant, visit Auburn’s extension service website: http://www.aces.edu