Itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny homestead (by that I mean condo garden)

By Amanda Cleary Eastep

Sometimes you just have to change your perception of a thing.

This isn’t the same as changing your perspective. I mean, no matter how I view the garden space off of my condo patio, it is what it is. A small plot of clay-filled soil, a few pots, and a lot of shade.




But rather than waiting for my dream 10 acres in North Carolina to appear in my backyard, I will think of this little bit of dirt as an itsy-bitsy corner of that acreage. And this is what I now perceive the garden to be. (I’m in PR; this is not a stretch for me.)

In addition to taking small steps over the winter toward my future as a homesteader, I made big plans for this little garden. This spring I’ll forgo the flowers and plant shade-tolerant veggies. And I have decided to start them from seeds in milk jug greenhouses (see instruction below).

This is what I ordered from Seed Savers Exchange:

QTY B/O WOI Item Description
1 0 Swiss Chard, Five Color Silverbeet OG Swiss Chard, Five Color Silverbeet OG
1 0 Spinach, Bloomsdale OG Spinach, Bloomsdale OG
1 0 Watermelon, Moon & Stars (Yellow) OG Watermelon, Moon & Stars (Yellow) OG
1 0 Bean, Sultan’s Golden OG Bean, Sultan’s Golden OG
1 0 Carrot, Paris Market Carrot, Paris Market
1 0 Lettuce, SSE Lettuce Mixture Lettuce, SSE Lettuce Mixture
1 0 Pea, Tom Thumb Pea, Tom Thumb
1 0 Kale, Dwarf Blue Curled OG Kale, Dwarf Blue Curled OG
1 0 Tomato, Amish Paste Tomato, Amish Paste
1 0 Tomato, Riesentraube Tomato, Riesentraube
1 0 Herb, Chamomile German OG Herb, Chamomile German OG

And this is what I perceive they will grow into:


NOTE: Yes, I know watermelons need tons of space–which I don’t have. My father has been convinced (?) by his sweet granddaughter that it is his duty as a good Christian man to build a raised bed in his yard thereby fulfilling God’s command to be fruitful and multiply.

Tragedy or triumph? Stay tuned…

Milk Jug Seed Starters

With the method below you can start garden seeds in late winter if you don’t have indoor lights or a cold frame. My seeds don’t arrive until late April, so we’ll see how it goes.

1. Cut a gallon milk jug (or other large plastic container) in half horizontally, leaving one edge intact to use as a hinge. Discard the cap.

2. Punch several drainage holes in the bottom.

3. Fill the bottom with 3 inches of potting soil, moisten well and plant your seeds.

4. Fold down the top cover, and secure the cut seam with duct tape. Enclose the planted jug in a large clear or opaque plastic bag (such as a produce bag), held together at the top with a twist tie.

5. Place in a sunny, protected spot outdoors.

6. One week before transplanting, harden off seedlings by removing the bag and tape, and propping the jug open with clothespins.

Compliments of Mother Earth News

6 thoughts on “Itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny homestead (by that I mean condo garden)

  1. I just found your blog through a search of homesteading related blogs and I am in the same situation with my garden! I live in a tiny apartment with a tiny patio in full shade and surrounded by non-drained swampy clay. I’ve started some pots of spinach seeds and I’m hoping they will germinate any day! Fingers crossed! Good luck with your milk jug greenhouse! I just started a blog on sustainable living and local eating on a small budget and in a small space, maybe we can exchange ideas! The link, if you want to check it out, is Good luck gardening!


    1. Thanks for commenting! Wow, do we live in the same complex? I grew lettuce from seed last year in a pot and that worked pretty well. I planted cucumbers in a small spot of sun and ran them up a trellis. They were delicious but a bit on the deformed side. Not sure why. I’ll be posting my garden plan and updates, so stay tuned. I’m looking forward to checking out your blog!


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