Living on, or near, a college campus can be frustrating-even with the perks of a central rec center and all-you-can-eat dining center-we all long for a little privacy and lots of green space. Although I’ve moved off-campus and into an apartment, the opportunity to actually enjoy a yard is still something that I dearly miss. When I visit my parents I find myself taking the dogs out more, dragging my little brother on walks, and actually offering to help my dad around the yard. I know that I probably won’t be able to enjoy these things in my own place for a few more years, but over the past few months I realized that I can’t always wait for the green space to come to me. Sometimes you have to make it happen.
I had always wanted to grow a few of my own vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Over the course of a few months, I began to collect materials to build my own indoor garden. It was shockingly simple and cheap, and along with my significant other (and family), we were able to collect wood scraps and plant containers (recycled jars). We already had the necessary tools and nails, so the only purchases were soil, seeds, and smaller containers to start the seeds in which cost less than $15.
The box took about an hour to construct (thanks to my Dad and boyfriend, Adam) and another hour or two to arrange everything and actually begin the planting process. This is something I have thought about for at least a solid year, but it only took a few hours to do once we took action. Adam and I kept our garden box indoors over the last week, because as every knows, Illinois weather can be pretty temperamental in April. However, the beauty of this box—is that it is easily transferred outside once it warms up enough. Although I may not have a large yard, I now have a bit of green space I created myself. In just a few weeks, we’ve already begun to see the benefits of our work. While $15 and a couple hours might be a stretch for the average college student, imagine how much money and time you’ll save on shopping for fresh produce – instead of a costly trip to the store, a quick trip to your patio or balcony can yield armfuls of fresh fruits and veggies, meal after meal. So what are you waiting for?
How To Create Your Own Garden Box
- Find an old window to use. Recycle from an old home, ask around, or your best option might be to check out an antique store.
- Purchase or collect wood. I would recommend trying to find out if someone you know has some wood scraps (recycle!) before purchasing some from a store. Worst case scenario you can purchase scrap lumber from nearly any local home improvement store.
- Measure the dimensions of the window—then get handy. You are going to need a few tools to do this project, but it’s simple enough that anyone can build! You don’t need any professional skills to nail pieces of wood together. If you are getting your wood from a store, measure the window beforehand because they may be able to cut the wood to size for you—saving you some time! Also, when considering the height of the box, think about what you will be planting and how high it may grow. Our garden box is the perfect size for herbs, but we will have to move our vegetables into larger containers as they grow. We were originally going to go with just herbs, but I love tomatoes!
- Consider what you’ll be planting in. Recycled jars and coffee cups are the perfect size to start your plants in!
- If you are using a planter that may leak—you will want to layer the bottom so that the water doesn’t soak through and rot the wood. We reused some of the plastic that our seed containers came in to collect water for us.
- Get planting! You can purchase the soil you want from many local stores. We just went with a basic kind, but remember that certain types of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and plants may require different soil types. Also, make sure you actually read up on each plant!
- Pray to the sun and water gods. Take care of your plants and garden box—and reap the benefits in a few weeks or months!
–Jordan Goebig (with a cameo by the always adorable, Elway Marshall)