Nothing rings in summer quite like fresh fruits and veggies. And the only thing that makes summer produce even more delicious is the satisfaction that comes from growing it yourself, which is easier than you might think. Read on for five ways to give your green thumb a go.
Savor summer longer with a corner citrus Ttee
Fresh-off-the-branch citrus isn’t just for those who live in warm, tropical climes. If you have space in your home that enjoys full sun (roughly 6 to 8 hours per day, from 10am to 4pm), you’ve got just the spot for an indoor Meyer Lemon tree, which harvests December through April. The indoor citrus craze isn’t limited to just lemons, though. Blood oranges, clementines, mandarin oranges and even kumquats (hello, edible rinds) can grow inside under direct all-day sunlight and produce fruit from winter through spring or early summer. Cocktail garnishes at-the-ready? We’ll cheers to that.
Go for a windowsill herb garden
Think about ready-in-30 weeknight pizzas and pastas, flavorful kitchen-sink salads and your favorite summer cocktail. When it comes to whipping up our favorite meals and beverages, we reach for a cluster of leafy, aromatic herbs. The best thing about an herb garden is that it requires little space or skill to perfect. Try your hand at basil, mint, cilantro or lemongrass atop a sunlit table, window box, windowsill or small-space patio. Even the most narrow of herb gardens will pay off big-time in upping your summer cooking and entertaining game.
Try a fire escape tomato plant
You don’t need much square footage to reap the benefits of summer’s juiciest produce. (#UrbanFarming is trending for a reason.) If you have access to a sunny front stoop or fire escape, you have more than enough room to keep a tomato plant happy and healthy. A planter measuring one or two square feet with a five-gallon capacity should do the trick. No outdoor space? No problem. Consider a Smart Garden for your kitchen countertop to watch small-scale veggies and leafy greens thrive, thanks to a built-in water tank and LED lights.
Consider a container garden
With a bit more space, an entirely homegrown salad could be yours. But before you set up your container garden, consider the amount of light your back deck, rooftop or patio gets; this will determine what kinds of vegetables you can grow successfully. (While tomatoes and herbs love direct sunlight, constant rays can fry cucumbers and lettuce.) Working with limited square footage? Think vertically. Larger vegetables like eggplants and zucchini grow best when aided by stakes or a trellis.
Meet the farmstand
“Growing food at home fills me with pride and gives me access to freshly picked produce anytime I want it,” says Lettuce Grow co-founder Zooey Deschanel. The actor and Jacob Pechenik launched Lettuce Grow to help curb waste and make it easy to grow your own food at home. The Farmstand is a self-watering, self-fertilizing garden sized to fit any outdoor space—balconies, back porches and big yards alike. Plus, for every 10 Farmstands sold, Lettuce Grow donates one to a school, nonprofit or community organization.
Besides boasting both health and economic benefits, growing your own home-to-table food is good for the environment, too. Here are a few more easy pivots for creating a more sustainable kitchen:
- Start with an audit and consider reusing before you buy anything new. “What salsa jars, Tupperware or mason jars can you repurpose?” asks environmentalist Leah Thomas. “Hang on to those for as long as possible to divert from the landfill.”
- Compost. “Make a small compost bin for your yard, fire escape or front porch,” suggests sustainability advocate Dominique Drakeford. “Composting fruit peels, veggie scraps, eggshells and coffee grounds helps minimize food waste significantly.”
- Embrace the softer side. Replace single-use paper towels and napkins with their washable cloth counterpart in linen or organic cotton.
For more inspiration on making yourself at home outside—from dining al fresco to creating the ultimate outdoor hangs—visit westelm.com. Want even more from REI Co-op + West Elm? Sign up to join our Tiny Picnic Festival and check out the entire co-designed collection here.