The Black Thumb Guide to Gardening

Your flowers never grow, but you can’t put your finger on what you’re doing wrong. With these tips, tricks, and techniques, you’ll soon be an old hand at gardening.
  • Pick your pot.Make sure the container is at least 24 inches in diameter. There should be room for the plants to develop strong roots and grow. Terra-cotta containers are good options, or consider repurposing a plastic trash can or bin and poking drainage holes in the bottom.
  • Plan your arrangement.A 24-inch container can fit five to seven seedlings of varying sizes. Choose an anchor—a large plant like a tomato, a pepper, a blueberry, or an eggplant. Add a plant with height—a tall graceful fennel, an okra, or a dill. Then fill in around the edges with lettuces, spinach, or smaller herbs like parsley, basil, or rosemary. Try to include a plant that will dangle over the edge like nasturtium, strawberries, or even a small squash.
  • Buy the best varieties.Pick up the seedlings at a nursery or farmers’ market. Select varieties of vegetables that are bred to be compact. Pay attention to leaf colors and textures when choosing vegetables and herbs, and look for edible flowers, too. Check the care tags to make sure the seedlings are compatible and can grow in the same pot.
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