Garden Bounty

A Bruised Thumb’s Guide To Gardening Kits

The Go To Guide for Garden Kits to help deal with this never-ending quarantine. 

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Photo by Chantal Garnier on Unsplash

Well we are almost into fall and I *can’t* wait to see what the final quarter of this dumpster fire year brings. Anyone else need a break from this year? Can we all collectively agree and just hit the pause button for a 5 minute reset? Please? I am asking nicely…

So do you want to know what this year has driven me to? Well let me tell you.

Recently, I found myself Q-Tip in hand, channeling my inner Barry White and serenading my squash flowers with “Let’s Get It On” while I swabbed pollen from one flower to another. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think there would be a possibility of me being stuck in Quarantine for 6+ months. And even further from that did I ever think I would be working so hard for a plant to get lucky. But here we are. C’est la vie.

I don’t know about you all, but with the never-ending Shelter in Place, the West Coast burning down, the Gulf Coast being pounded with Tropical Storms, and the overwhelming loss of life (Rest in Power RBG), I had started running out of coping mechanisms. Not only have I run out, I am cycling back through the early ones. Oh yeah, I am baking bread again. However, they don’t work as well the second time around. But never fear, I have not given up on them. Oh no, I have actually doubled down on them and started expanding on them (more to come on that). 

For example, you may remember my little windowsill herb garden and the Fight To The Death against the Fungus Gnats. Well since then, I have progressed from a little windowsill herb garden to a container vegetable and “fruit” garden. (Scroll down to find my recommendations for some great Garden Starter Kits!)

First Tomato. Photo by Lily Latson

I say “fruit” because most of my fruit has given up on this year and straight up “quit”. And by “quit,” I might mean I killed them. The Goji berries FINALLY decided this year is worth it. They had a slow start and I could tell they were trying to decide if they were better off cashing out of this year or giving it a shot. Aren’t we all. Lucky for me, they were optimistic and that gives me hope that this year won’t be a total loss. Others weren’t quite so hopeful. Now I just applaud my almost 2 year old every time she waters the pot of dirt when she is helping me water the plants. It’s pretty cute watching her water the ground next to the pot with her Abby Cadabby (Sesame Street) watering can

My garden has evolved well over the past few month from some pretty epic fails, some weird twists (i.e. some very rude tomatoes taking over my strawberry pot), and some exciting wins. My kids argue over who gets our 1-2 Goldenberries everyday. I mean, if they are going to fight, at least it’s over a healthy berry, right?

Golden Berry. Photo by Lily Latson

I also learned some very valuable lessons about plant biology this year. Especially when it comes to squash varietals. I feel like they missed an important life science lesson along the way. You see, apparently squash have male and female flowers. But here is the twist; they don’t bloom at the same time. So you need some busy little pollinators who feed on the males and return for the females. Anyhow, my squash have been BLOOMING like CRAZY. So many beautiful, yellow squash blossoms. But, they are all Males. Every. Single. One of them. I have held out hope that the females are coming. But I am also losing confidence that the males will ever pollinate the females.  And THIS is how I found myself with a Q-Tip in hand, encouraging my plants to get busy.

What many of you probably don’t realize is, but I don’t exactly have a green thumb. I historically have had a very black thumb. Like I kill cactus, black thumb. And I would only buy the spineless ones cause I am clumsy and cactus can be quite a health hazard for me. So through this evolution of gardening through the Pandemic, my black thumb is turning less black. It is more of Bruised color I would now say.

Even despite my love of plants and their petrified fear of me, I have found some pretty fool proof gardening kits that can turn even the intrepid novice into a gardener. And here is the best part, all of these can be done in containers in small spaces, AND can be delivered to your door. And there is still plenty of time in most places to plant for a fall harvest. Just choose your plants wisely based on your climate (and save whatever seeds you don’t use for the Spring). Some are definitely be apartment friendly too.

So if you are looking for your next emotional Band-Aid during this Global Pandemic, or perhaps sending a care package to someone who needs a boost, or even just getting a jump on your Christmas shopping; I can recommend each of these gardening kits as awesome starting places. 

  • Plant Theatre: Funky Veg Kit – This is a GREAT and fun kit. We were gifted this for Christmas from my dad. I have no idea what inspired him (other than he loves gardens), but I cannot thank him enough. This has been a great project that has been a fun and EASY first adventure into a variety of vegetables. And every single plant sprouted and has done well.
    • Includes 5 Vegetables: Striped Tomatoes, Purple Carrots, Rainbow Swiss Chard, Purple Brussel Sprouts, and Golden Squash. 
    • Pros:
      • Comes with everything you need (pots, soil disk, seeds, markers) to get started so you literally need to buy nothing else. (**Note: if you are not going to plant into the ground, you will want a container to transfer them into once the seedlings get big enough – I recommend something like this or this.) 
      • The pots included are biodegradable so you can just plant the seedling pot directly into the ground or permanent pot. 
    • Cons:
      • You will need a plan (container or raised bed/garden bed) for the vegetables to transplant once they get big enough which will require soil and location. 
      • Some of these are more summer harvest plants, so you may have missed the window for outdoor planting this year. But you can always start some of them indoors or keep some of the seeds until next spring. 
Plant Theatre Funky Veg Kit. Photo Courtesy of Amazon
  • Plant Theatre: Forbidden Fruit Kit – This one has all the same benefits of the vegetable one (see #1). But if you are like us, then this is an easy sell. We LOVE berries. Every single plant sprouted and any failure in the growing process falls squarely on pilot error on my part. Also, what I like about this one is in includes a Goji Berry plant which is a multi year developing bush. 
    • Pros: 
      • Both of these kits, they came with plenty of seeds to plant some this year and keep some for next year. 
      • This goes back to my “bruised thumb”. If I can successfully grow these kits from seeds, you DEFINITELY can!
    • Cons:
      • Same as above.
Plant Theatre Forbidden Fruit Kit. Photo Courtesy of Amazon.
  • Garden Republic Culinary Herb Garden: So I love the variety of this kit, but it has been in such high demand, it is hard to get. I have noticed the price has bounced a bit, so if it seems a bit high and you are willing to wait, do so.
    • Pros:
      • Great Variety of Herbs (10!): Sage, Thyme, Oregano, Chives, Parsley, Cilantro, Peppermint, Dill, Basil, and Arugula
      • Germination Guarantee: if your herbs don’t sprout, they will send you more seeds!
      • Online Support Forum via Facebook for their growers which I have utilized and was helpful
      • Tons of seeds in each packet so you can save more for next year or plant in waves so you have a continuous supply.
      • Beautiful packaging which is great for a gift
      • Can be grown indoors – I started my herb garden in a sunny window in my kitchen and everything sprouted and grew wonderfully.
    • Cons:
      • Price and Availability – when I bought this back in March, it was pretty affordable compared to its competitors. Especially for the number of herbs. And, it was very easy to get. However, I have noticed the price has adjusted a few times since then given it is in high demand and often sold out.
      • Does require the purchase of soil and containers. I keep hoping they will change this as they keep updating their product line to include both pots and soil (disks). Fingers crossed!
Garden Republic Culinary Herb Kit. Photo Courtesy of Amazon
  • Planter’s Choice: Window Herb Garden: This is the one I got for my mom and it is so cute. I never saw it when I was looking for mine or I would have been torn. 
    • Pros: 
      • There are 9 herbs (vs. Garden Republic’s 10): Basil, Dill, Chives, Thyme, Cilantro, Parsley, Oregano, Sage, and Mustard
      • Include cute reusable plastic pots that have a sleek and modern feel. I like that they come with a matching drip trays (the set is broken into 3s so you can adjust lighting needs or spread out around your living/growing space as needed). 
      • Soil (disks) is included
      • Printed Markers in a large font: As someone whose handwriting can be questionably legible at times, I really liked that about these. Also it is in a large print format that is nice for easy identification. 
      • Great price point and is a great gift. And after discussing with my brother who is a Chef, he was very happy with the herb variety and found it to be useful.
Planter’s Choice Herb Window Garden. Photo Courtesy of Amazon

While I can personally vouch for the 4 above, I wanted to highlight a few others that have peaked my interest and I will be curious to explore next year. I wanted to highlight them in case you were looking for a something a bit different or exotic. Or if you, too, just wanted to expand on the garden you already have going. And as I can attest, these all make great gifts. They are fun to give and fun to receive.

  • Plant Theatre:
    • Hot Chili & Sweet Peppers: Includes Chili Peach Habaneros, Chille de Cayenne, Chille Pepper Jalapeño, Sweet Pepper Corno di Toro Rosso, Sweet Pepper Etiuda, and Sweet Pepper California Wonders
    • Edible Flowers: Cause who doesn’t love flowers? And I can eat them? Double win. I also feel like it would make me feel fancy in the time of Covid. Includes Marigold Sparky, Cornflower Bachelor’s Button Blue Boy, Candula Orange, Dianthus Pinks, Nasturtium Jewel Mix, and Pansey Johnny Jump Up
  • Garden Republic:
    • Tea Kit: In case you want to take on a new hobby and make your own tea, this one looks pretty cool. It just includes the seeds and markers, but it does include 10 types of seeds. These are Cinnamon Basil, Peppermint, Marjoram, Echinacea, Lemon Balm, Dandelion, Lavender, Fennel, Chamomile, Catnip
    • Bonsai Kit: This kit actually includes 4 types of seeds (most only include 3), the pots, pruning scissors (because we all need to be adequately equipped for our new obsessions), markers, and potting soil. The seeds included are: Brazilian Rosewood (flowering), Flame Tree, Black Spruce, and Colorado Blue Spruce

And if you decide to get any of these, let me know how it goes!

Now, wanna’ know something kinda’ funny? My weirdo gardening obsession is slowly wearing off on my husband. He has become obsessive over the grass in our yard. He is now seen a few times a day wandering around and checking the yard. He is out there fertilizing, seeding, watering, observing, and fighting our resident Gopher. Queue the Caddyshack jokes (and please send me some if you have any good ones!). It’s like I am getting a sneak peek of what we are going to look like when we are in our 60’s & 70’s. 

And with that, I leave you with what I have been randomly yelling in our house for the past 3 days, “Freeze, Gopher!”

Until next time,

Love,

Lily

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