How does your garden grow?

How does your garden grow?

I’d like to think I live a pretty “green” life. I’m far from perfect (“progress not perfection, progress not perfection…” repeat it with me…) and I have lots of areas I’m still trying to improve. But still, overall, I feel pretty good about how far I’ve come. I use homemade “green” cleaning products. I buy organic produce (local when possible). I walk (barefoot) when it’s feasible, etc. But there is one area in my life that is anything but green. Well, maybe not so much an “area in my life” as it is an “area” of my body.

My thumb is anything but green.

Alright folks, listen up. I’m making myself accountable. I have a plan and I need to “put it out there” to help me realize its end. I am going to grow a garden. This year. Starting soon. I don’t care how many times I’ve tried and failed. I don’t care that I live on the third floor and only have a wee-little deck to experiment on.

I am going to grow things. Things I can eat. Yummy, organic, things. This is the ultimate DIY.

And like usual, I’d love to have as many of you join me for that much-needed-online-virtual-let’s-pretend-it’s-face-to-face support.

First, let’s talk space.

As I mentioned, I don’t have a lot of space to grow. So I’ve been doing some research and came up with the solution to my problems (I hope). And while I definitely cannot take credit for the genius of this idea (I can at least point you to where I found it), I can hopefully take credit for sharing this genius idea. Because, well, I love it.

How to grow a small garden in a small space:

image by pippa5, instructables

Use a shoe holder, obviously! (I mean, duh, right?) :)

Materials needed:

– Hanging pocket shoe organizer
– Pole and attachments (curtain pole or pipe fittings, screws).
– Strong metal hanging hooks
– Compost of a good quality moisture holding type.
– Selection of plants or seeds


Attach a pole to wall

The original author attached a strong chrome pole with metal fittings to a shed wall. You could also use a curtain rod. Just make sure it’s high enough to grow plants (and out of reach of inquiring toddler hands).

Attach shoe organizer

Use strong hooks or wire to attach the shoe organizer. They must be strong enough to support the weight of the compost, plants and water. The shoe organizer comes with hooks, but they may not be strong enough. You can find some more heavy duty ones at the hardware store if needed.

Test for proper drainage

Pour water into the pockets to check the drainage, if they don’t drain then make a few small holes in each of the pockets. You want some drainage!

Fill each pocket with compost

Make sure it’s a good moisture retaining compost. Fill to 1″ below the rim so that water does not pour out over the rim.

Add plants or seeds

Some suggestions:

– herbs like thyme, basil, chives

 salad greens like mixed leaf, mustard, or spinach

– small veggies like minibel tomatoes or ‘petit pois pease


Water your plants slowly with a gentle flow, or you may wash soil and plants out of the pocket (and make a terrific mess). Consider if your plants need any sort of fertilizer (keep it natural and organic!). And be sure not to over pick salad leaves to ensure regrowth. Remove any damagaed leaves (great for your compost). And like most gardening, keep an eye out for slugs, caterpillars, and other pests.

What do you think? And do you have any great gardening tips or resources for me? Help me find my green thumb!

(top image by looseends, Flickr)



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About the author

Hi! I'm and I’m passionate about healthy living: feeling nourished, having energy, getting good sleep, and feeling strong. I believe healthy living does not have to be complicated or stressful. I’m a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist (RSMT) and a Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst (CLMA). I’m also an avid researcher and love to read about nutrition, the body, and toxic-free living. Learn more.

View all articles by Robin Konie


  1. Rachel

    Wow. I love this idea. I am attempting to grow sugar peas up the railing outside my third-story apartment. It doesn’t get direct sun all day, so I’m a little skeptical. This idea is amazing, though! Thanks to college dorms, I even have a shoe storage thing boxed up somewhere. My problem is finding somewhere that gets enough sun…

    1. robin

      I know, that’s often a problem especially for us with apartment-style living. Sugar peas…mmmm. I need to add those to my list. :)

  2. Stephanie

    This is seriously clever… really thinking outside the (planter) box! I would love to see a follow-up post on this later in the summer too.

    1. Post author

      Yes! This is why I’ve put it “out there” in blog land… to hold me accountable. Hopefully I’ll have some beautiful plants to show and not just some empty shoe organizer. :)

  3. Becca

    this is such a great idea. I may do this for my patio herb garden. I can’t wait to see the follow-up post.

    Rachel- you can still grow things in spaces that get partial sun. I read a great tip on that says if you are growing a plant for the fruit or the root it needs full sun, but if you are growing it for the leaves (like herbs, lettuce and cabbage) 3-6 hours of sunlight, even dappled with shade, should be sufficient.

  4. Nadine

    This is such a nifty idea! For growing veggies, soil pH is really important. Most veggies and herbs like a fairly neutral range. You can get a test kit from bunnings in Australia, so similar places would carry them elsewhere. And all plants love nitrogen!! cow manure or chook manure are the best, cow manure is not as fragrant as a general rule! Happy gardening!

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