Farmer shares tips for starting a spring vegetable garden, even if you don’t have a yard

To grow vegetables at home, a person doesn’t need 20 acres of land or a tractor, in fact they don’t even need a yard. In an urban area, there are some spring vegetables you can plant right now on your patio or deck.

“The peas, lettuce, the green onions, onion sets, potatoes all could be going in right about now in the D.C. area,” said Farmer Lee Jones, owner of the online vegetable seller the Chef’s Garden.

He said whether it is pots on your balcony or a little garden in your backyard you can start growing those vegetables today. Even radishes, he said, can be started now.

Jones said growing healthy plants starts with making sure you have good soil. One way to achieve that is by planting ground cover plants such as rye or buckwheat in your pots.

He recommends that if you have three pots on your balcony, use only one for spring crops and plant the ground crops in other pots to condition the soil in those for future plantings.

“Put some rye in one and put some buckwheat in the other and rotate those, always be giving back to the soil and harvesting that energy from the sun,” Jones said.

Once you’re ready for the mid-season crops, you can fold the ground cover in one of the pots into the soil and plant those seeds. Also, when done with the spring crops, add ground crops into the pots used for those.

“It’s survival of the fittest,” Jones said. “If you can get the soils in balance, and you can put a healthy plant into it, it tastes too sweet, and the insects don’t go to it.”

Ample sunlight is also needed, and Jones said don’t overwater the plants, even if it looks thirsty.

“Let that plant work and let it wilt down,” Jones said. “It’s okay that it wilts down a little bit during the day. We tend to think we want to help and nurture the plant, and we tend to overwater.”

If insects do begin moving in on your plants, Jones said a homemade concoction that includes hot pepper or garlic and mild dish soap can be sprayed on the plants to keep bugs away.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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