A professional gardener’s guide to growing food at home | The Gourmand & Gourmet

A professional gardener’s guide to growing food at home

Dream job alert!

Whether it’s been a goal for a while or you’re in need of a hobby now that you’ve finally accepted that your sourdough isn’t that good, there’s never been a better time to try your hand (and thumb!) at growing food at home—and it’s probably easier than you thought.

Amelia Valenti (one of the gardeners who keeps the Six-Green-Star West Village looking so lush, and keeps the Village bees happy) says tomatoes, lettuce, and broccoli are great plants for home gardeners to start with.

The best advice I can give when it comes to dos and don’ts in the garden is to make sure your plants have plenty of direct sunlight,” she says.

“Choose a spot in your garden that is well-lit throughout the day, and make sure you water thoroughly, especially if you’re planting seedlings as these take time to establish.”

If you don’t have as much green space available as Amelia’s expansive gardens, she says pots are a great alternative: “They are transferable when the sunlight changes with the season, great if you’re renting, and you can replant easily when the time comes. Remember soil dries out more quickly in pots so you need to check your soil to know when your plants need a drink.”

When it comes to actually getting your herbs, fruit, and vege into soil, Amelia says companion planting is a great approach: “Plants like thyme, sage, rosemary and lavender (once established) require less water, whereas plants like tomatoes, basil, parsley and coriander require more frequent watering.”

Once your babies are planted, Amelia says, “If you’re wanting to grow edibles it’s important to use natural insecticides. NO systemic insecticides.” 

“I would recommend checking your plants daily and physically removing grubs/diseased leaves. Keep an eye out for ladybugs, too, as these guys will help in ridding any nasties such as aphids.”

In addition to ladybugs, your new crops could also attract bees and butterflies, which are an important part of local ecosystems! You can learn more about planting, growing, and supporting local insect populations all month as part of West Village’s Bee Month!