Which plants are right for you? Posted on July 15, 2020August 3, 2020 by tobydorr Amount of Space you can start with small plants in small pots if space is limited or if you are lucky enough to have a little yard you would be surprised about how much you can grow in even a 4ftx4ft area. It is best to think with how many of what type of plant you can grow on a square foot (sqft) basis. For example, tomato plants usually like at minimum of 4sqft (2ftx2ft) depending on the maturity size of the selected variety, whereas 4 lettuce plants would only require a single square foot. There are also many ways to be more efficient with your space as well if nutrients and water is not limited. You can plant much closer together with vegetables that are edible at early stages of growth by thinning out plants proportionally to their size by removing every other one once the leaves begin to touch. You can also plant earlier maturing plants such as lettuce around later maturing plant such as tomatoes so by the time the tomatoes grow big enough to need the space the lettuce is already fully grown and can be harvested. Another way you can save space is taking advantage of vertical space and trellising plants up a lattice framework allowing more room to work with below. Pay careful attention when digging a new hole for plants, however. If you notice that you are digging into the roots of a nearby plant. Your spacing may be too close and either one of the plants will likely be affected. Amount of light Different plants grow best in various amounts of light. Observe the amount of light your desired planting location receives and trying to match the plants light requirements to it. The amount of sunlight on any given space will change throughout the season and should be noted as well. Often when buying plants at a store they are labeled. Most “full sun” plants like 6hrs or more direct sun each day, “light shade” between 3-5hrs, “partial shade” 2hrs, “full shade” less than 1hr. Temperature Different plants grow best in different times of year depending on where you live. Cool season vegetables grow better in spring and fall, whereas warm season vegetables grow better in summer. Indoor animal friendly Houseplants provide several benefits inside the home but can be toxic to pets if ingested. Carefully choose varieties that are nontoxic if this may be an issue in your situation. Outdoor animal protection Many of the vegetables you grow that you enjoy the taste of many wild animals enjoy them too. If you start noticing other unintentional guests enough the fruits of your labor take preventative measures to stop their grazing. Use thin netting suspended over your plants to keep birds off and set out traps for rats or gophers in an out of the way safe location where you think they are traveling. Medicinal properties Not only are many of the herbs that you can easily grow at home tasty, but also provide certain medicinal properties depending on the age of the plant and type of consumption. Most all herbs can be eaten either freshly picked or dried, but when medicinal properties or more desired over flavoring, it is usually best to perform one of the several types of extraction methods that can easily be performed at home in order to concentrate it for a more effective delivery method and better storage properties. The two main types of extraction methods are either water based, or solvent based. Sometimes one is better than the other depending of which chemical properties you are wanting to keep or omit and is often best to look online for which particular method is best for what you are trying to achieve out of the plant. It is often best for both methods to properly dry the herbs before beginning the extraction process to allow the plant the fully develop its mature chemical composition and to let most of the chlorophyll taste breakdown. For the water method add the fresh or dried herbs to a large saucepan then add just enough water to cover. Allow to sit 12-24hrs then bring to boil for 5min over medium heat. Turn heat off, cover with lid, and allow to completely cool to room temperature. Once cool strain in a jar with tight fitting lid and label the contents with date and place in fridge. This type of extraction is quite simple and usually will keep for at least a month in the back of the fridge, but discard if any significant change in appearance or smell develops. Leaves can be dried and crushed if a stronger concentration is desired however take special care in straining out the fine particles so the solution is not stored with any particulate that may cause it to spoil sooner. If an ever-stronger concentration or shelf stable product is desired a solvent based extraction can be performed with similar easy at home. Any neutral flavored food grade alcohol will work well and is especially necessary if the end product will be consumed. The higher the alcohol content the more efficient the extraction process well be, so everclear is often recommend if can find it but any cheap vodka should work. Start by filling a jar up with grinded or whole dried herbs to within an inch or so of the top. Add enough alcohol to cover the herbs, then cover the jar with a tight fitting lid and let sit in a dark place for a couple of weeks to a couple of months depending on how strong you would like the end product. Check on the jar once a week to monitor the extract and give it a vigorous shake to help the desired chemicals to dissolve into solution. Once you are ready to bottle, strain out the plant material and store in a cool dark place. This type of extract can remain shelf stable for years if stored properly. Since this type of extract can be quite strong, start with just a few drops in several ounces of water and increase the dosage until desired effect is reached. Growing indoors Many small plants can be grown indoors if outdoor space is limited. A windowsill that receives at least a few hours of direct sunlight a day will provide enough light to grow several types of plants. Supplemental lighting may be required. Plant ID tag When buying a plant from your local nursery or big box store they will usually insert a small id tag into the top of the potting mix that not only helps keep track of what plant is what but also typically has a small photo of what the plant will look like at maturity along with most of the basic growing requirements that will help that particular plant thrive. Creative solutions Hanging or Inverted Hanging or inverted containers can help maximize growing area when space is limited. Care must be taken when using these however as they tend to dry out quicker than plants on the ground, so will probably require more frequent watering. If let them dry out too much the potting mix while shrink away from the container’s sides, allowing water to run out. Not only will this usually create a mess on whatever is underneath but will not fully hydrate the potting mix in the container. Try less but more frequent watering if this becomes an issue or use hanging containers that have a build in saucer lip to collect any runoff. Self-Watering There are many ways you can utilize self-watering techniques to provide your plants requirements. Little cones with small holes can be pushed into the potting mix and water bottles place on top to slowing drip into the plants. An even better option would be to utilize ceramic cones to draw water from reservoir via capillary action. In the ground vs. In a planter Growing plants in the ground is a great idea if the soil can be worked deep and amended since it offers more water storage capacity and more available space for root growth. A planter would be a better option however if this is not a practical for you and can still achieve great results.