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Credit: Joe Lingeman

3 Things You Need to Start Your Own Tiny Victory Garden

published May 21, 2020
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Welcome back to the project of beginning your Tiny Victory Garden! (Read our kickoff here.) By this point, you’ve done your homework. You’ve carefully monitored your sunlight situation. You’ve thought about how much space you have to work with. And you’ve spent a bit of time meditating on the types of plants that would bring you joy. Now it’s time to start gathering your supplies. 

Since a quick trip to your local garden center might not be in the cards, depending on your local status of stay-at-home orders and retail openness, it’s time to get creative with sourcing. Luckily gardeners are a resourceful people. (And most of them don’t mind sharing, either.)  

Tiny Victory Gardens Need Tiny Amounts of Stuff

While it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer variety and scale of gardening tools, gear, specialized ingredients, seeds, and more, here’s the truth: You really only need a few things for your tiny victory garden: the plants, a place to put the plants, and soil. That’s really it. Fertilizers are a “nice-to-have” addition, but not required. Shovels and spades are great, but when working with tiny seeds or seedlings, spoons — or your hands — can work just as well. A terrazzo planter looks cute, but old plastic nursery pots do the job, too. You can even use an old bucket, coffee can, or empty milk jug as upcycled planters, as long as you can drill a few holes in the bottom for drainage.  

A Shopping List for Small-Space Gardening

Here’s everything you’ll need to create your tiny victory garden. The container you choose will depend on the amount of space you have; if you just have a window, choose the windowsill planter. If you have a balcony, try our balcony pick. And if you have a small yard, shop the small yard container.

Where to Find Your Plants

As for finding the plants themselves, this part can be tricky these days. Online seed sellers Burpee, Baker Creek, and Southern Exposure are still open, but with some limited stock and lagging shipping times. Neighborhood nurseries might be temporarily closed, or operating on limited hours. However, don’t assume you need to break quarantine to go to a nursery: Many local garden stores are doing online ordering and contactless pickup, just like grocery stores.

If you can’t patronize your local garden center, or don’t yet feel comfortable doing so, Amy Pennington, who plans and installs edible gardens for homes and businesses, suggests simply asking around. “This year I’ve really been encouraging people to get on their neighborhood swap groups,” she says, adding that Nextdoor and Facebook can be treasure troves for bartering and buying. Local garden clubs, community gardens, and even small farmers might be willing to swap or sell their plants, or connect you to others who are.

For plants that easily and quickly germinate from seed, like lettuce, beans, and radishes, Seed Savers Exchange can be a great resource, Pennington adds. And Maureen O’Brien, a community garden educator at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, reminds you not to overlook your own kitchen, either. “Because of the seed shortages, I’ve been raiding my pantry and experimenting,” she says, adding that she successfully grew cilantro from the coriander seeds in her spice cabinet. You can grow plenty of kitchen scraps and saves: dried beans, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, organic garlic, and, of course, the roots of your scallions are all worth experimenting with. Both O’Brien and Pennington agree: When in doubt, just tap into your community. In my own experience, fellow gardeners are usually happy to share what they can. Last month, I asked around for dill seeds, and a few days later had a pack in my mailbox. After sowing a handful, I passed the rest of those seeds along to someone else. 

A Plant Shopping List

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: You Only Need These 3 Things to Start Your Own Tiny Victory Garden