Edible gardening experts share tricks and tools to give your garden personality
Actress Emily Paul channeled her green thumb when the Los Angeles writers’ strike hit, eventually forming Sprout, a landscaping company that plants organic produce in backyards. Emily believes in simple solutions. To grow edibles, she says, you only need seeds, soil, mulch, and compost. In her backyard, she repurposes old umbrella holders for planters and wine crates for storing supplies. What follow are a few of her gardening essentials.
“You can grow so much more per square foot with nutritious soil—and to make soil rich, it’s essential to add compost.” Ceramic Compost Pail, $32; williams-sonoma.com
“I reuse, or buy new jars to take different kinds of organic soil to jobsites.” Ball Regular Mouth Quart Jars, $11 for 12; freshpreserving.com
“To keep hands soft, I moisturize with raw coconut oil. It’s super-nourishing and has no additives, like parabens.” Adara Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, $30 for 8.4 oz.; b-glowing.com
“Baker has the craziest varieties of fruits and veggies, in colors and shapes I didn’t even know existed. Use whatever you buy that season, since older seeds can spoil.” Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, from $1.25; rareseeds.com
Heavy Petal blogger Andrea Bellamy, who lives in Vancouver, B.C., decided to plant edibles as an inexpensive alternative to hardscaping. She also wanted the garden to fit her modern style. Her book, Sugar Snaps and Strawberries (Timber Press, 2010; $20), devotes the first chapter to helping you find your personal style. Check out some of Andrea's favorite garden accessories on the following slides.
“I’d rather have a better pattern selection [than offered by outdoor fabric] and bring in my pillows every night. I like the bold style of Willa Skye.” Maze Greek Key Pillow Cover, $28; etsy.com/shop/willaskyehome
Glazed ceramic pots hold water well (drill a hole in the pot if it lacks one); this is a modern twist on a traditional style. “I go neutral on big stuff like patio furniture and large planters, and add punches of color with smaller containers and pillows.” 16-in. Jardiniere, $240; bauerpottery.com
“Working in soil tends to dry out my skin. These are made of a stretchy fabric with neoprene over the palm and fingers, so you maintain dexterity.” Atlas Nitrile Touch Gloves, $6.95; gardenbasket.com
“This coil hose is perfect for tight spaces since it tucks away out of sight, and you don’t need a big spool or basket to wind it up.” Lee Valley 25-in. Deluxe Watering Set, $34; leevalley.com
“This Garden Babies butterhead lettuce always emerges pristine, like some produce manager from Whole Foods misted it in the middle of the night.” Renee’s Garden seeds, $2.79; reneesgarden.com
If you’re hunting for Maria Finn, check the roofs of San Francisco, where she sets up edible gardens for clients. Maria’s also a writer (she contributes to Sunset) and recently penned A Little Piece of Earth (Universe Publishing, 2010; $20). The book’s simple message: You don’t need acres to grow edibles. “In a small space, you’re not going to live off your harvest, but you can do things like grow kaffir [‘Kieffer’] limes, using the leaves to season homemade curry, or grow ingredients to make cocktails. These ideas make life richer.” Click ahead to see what adds style to her garden.
“For a mod urban touch, I mulch with beach glass or white stones.” Cabo Beach Glass, $11 for 2 lbs.; origincrafts.com
Urbanites should start with herbs in pots, especially since so often store-bought herbs get thrown away. Set up your windowsill herbs with this self-irrigating container. Delta 20 Self Watering Planter, $38; sprouthome.com
“More attitude than a floppy sun hat.” Cord and Concho Band hat, $50; shadybrady.com
“It’s durable, lightweight, and cute, but not so precious I have to worry about it getting messed up.” Green Garden Tote, $39; angelas-garden.com
In addition to heirlooms, Seeds of Change sells new varieties, so you can experiment. Maria’s picks: ‘Cocozelle’ zucchini ($3.79) and cherry tomatoes like ‘Peacevine’ ($3.29). seedsofchange.com