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big plans for small gardens
by Sarah Goldstein |
3 4 5
continued from page 3
Now that you know where to put your soon-to-be garden, you'll need some
plants, and you probably don't want to spend a lot of money. There are
reject plants all over the place if you know where to look, and they've
usually been so neglected that some new soil, a splash of water and a
drop of fertiliser make them feel incredibly pampered -- just what you
want if your gardening skills are still, erm, developing. So where to
find these free plants?
- Compost. Seriously
some great food plants have come up in my compost. For example, some
tomato seedlings popped up a few months ago and are now over a metre
tall. They haven't flowered yet, let alone fruited, but they smell
amazing. Plus there's great snob value in showing off an herb garden
complete with tomatoes.
- Food scraps. One
step before compost, is fresh off-cuts from the kitchen. My latest
discovery: you can eat most of a scallion (spring onion), plant the
bottom 10cm in the garden (i.e. the bit with the roots), and in a
couple of weeks there's a whole new scallion. Genius! They just grow
all by themselves, clever plants.
- The side of the road.
No, I'm not suggesting you pull plants out of other people's
gardens. But when a horribly neglected houseplant sits amongst a
pile of junk, there's a hardy new addition to your garden, just
waiting to be taken home. Unless it's ugly, in which case, off to
landfill it goes!
- Around apartment
buildings. For some bizarre reason, many discarded plants end up
sitting around apartment buildings, waiting to die in their
too-small pots. Obviously not all plants around apartments are
abandoned, but when a friend in the block assures you that the plant
has been all alone for all the years they've lived there, it's
pretty safe to adopt it.
This is the coolest thing on earth: people giving away their old
junk to others who desperately need exactly that thing. I've given
away furniture, computer bits, lamps and a bunch of other stuff, and
gained a 1.5m variegated ficus for my front yard, bush rocks for all
the garden beds and a few non-plant things too. And they were all
- Friends and family. There
are a whole bunch of reasons your friends and family might
contribute to your garden, none of which involve blackmail or theft.
If anyone you know is an avid gardener, they may be thrilled to
share their hobby with you. Ask them nicely to strike a cutting of
one of their plants and see what happens! Alternatively, if you hear
that someone's leaving town, see if they intend to take their plants
with them. I've got a bunch of plants on loan from backpacking
friends, and a couple more from people who've moved away. Or if
you'd like something specific, mention it next time someone asks
what you'd like for your birthday / Christmas / engagement present.
lounge . nourish .
. laze . home.