JoAnne Skelly: Everyone can have a garden

My friend Julie from Incline laughingly asked me recently if she could come garden at my house since her property was buried in snow. While that’s not feasible, it got me thinking. Others may wish they too could garden during these “Stay at Home” times but not have space for an in-ground garden and need to garden indoors, on a patio or on a porch.

Everyone can have a garden, even if just a small one. I suggested that Julie satisfy her gardening yen by planting an herb garden in a pot. Since she is staying away from stores, she can order supplies: everything from pots, to soil, to seeds, online.

Her house is above 7,000 feet elevation, so she may have to keep pots indoors at night until the end of May. Here in the valleys, we can certainly plant all kinds of plants in containers now, as long as we protect them if (when?) it freezes.

Some of the herbs I cook with regularly that I want to plant are parsley, cilantro and dill. Basils of all kinds are more favorites, but since these plants are cold-sensitive, I will watch temperatures and move them inside accordingly. Oregano and thyme are relatively easy to grow. I’m considering planting lettuces and other greens in containers too, maybe mixed in with spinach to keep salad supplies on hand. The plant possibilities for successful container gardens are quite numerous.

To create a container garden, start with a pot that is six inches to 12 inches deep (depending on the root depth required for the veggies) and fairly wide. You can be creative with container choice as long as it drains well, a critical factor for container gardening success. You might use a plastic storage container with holes drilled through the bottom for drainage. Good potting soil is the next essential element. It is much better in containers than native soil, which is heavy and has a tendency to hold too much water. Plant your seeds at the right depth per the label on the seed pack or plant seedlings. Proper watering, good light and care should yield herbs for cooking and greens for salads.

Here’s a great tip. Greenhouse Garden Center, Carson City’s premier nursery and gift shop is taking phone orders for curbside pickup. Call your order in at 775-882-8600 and they will have it ready when you get there. You can get everything you need, stay safe and support a local business.

JoAnne Skelly is associate professor and Extension educator emerita with University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Email


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