Jackfruit BBQ Sandwiches – Vegan Version of “Pulled Pork”

Have you ever heard of jackfruit? It’s a gigantic fruit that grows in Southeast Asia and resembles one of Khaleesi’s dragon eggs.

There are many ways to indulge in this sweet tropical fruit, but probably the most unusual way to eat it is as a vegan meat alternative.

The white, stringy part of this fruit is so mild in flavor, that it will taste like any seasoning you put on it. The texture also resembles meat, making it ideal for those of us who miss meaty dishes.

One easy way to cook it is with BBQ sauce, like a vegan pulled “pork” sandwich.

I suggest using canned jackfruit for this, because when I tried using it fresh, it came out too stringy and tough (still edible, of course). But the canned type has a much better texture for imitating cooked pork.

Make sure the canned jackfruit you buy is either in water or in brine (not syrup! The syrup kind is too sweet for this dish!)

You can get canned and fresh jackfruit at most Asian grocery stores, or online.

Serve your BBQ pulled jackfruit with some gluten-free buns and a few rings of a crunchy red onion for a bomb summertime dinner.

bbq jackfruit sandwiches

How to cook BBQ pulled ‘pork’ jackfruit sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans young green jackfruit in water or brine -OR- 1/4 fresh jackfruit (the less ripe, the better)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 pepper
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce
  • gluten-free buns
  • optional: red onion as topping

Steps:

  1. If you’re using canned jackfruit, drain and rinse the jackfruit. Remove the core and any seeds, leave just the white stringy parts.
  2. If you’re using fresh jackfruit, cut it in quarters, remove the core, seeds, any yellow/orange parts (those will be too sweet) and the skin. Leave just the white stingy parts. Give yourself 30 extra minutes, because this is a pretty tedious process.
  3. Chop the yellow onion and cook in a large pan with some oil until slightly soft.
  4. Add the jackfruit.
  5. Throw in the seasonings: salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, chili powder and smoked paprika
  6. Cook for about 10 minutes
  7. Add the BBQ sauce to the pan. Feel free to add a little bit of water to thin it out.
  8. Let the mixture simmer, covered, for 30-40 minutes, adding water if necessary to prevent burning.
  9. Once the jackfruit is soft enough, it’s ready to serve! Goes well with red onion and any other toppings.

I hope any of you who are meatless meat-lovers enjoy this recipe. It comes out pretty similar to the real thing, so you can get your meat fix without actually killing any piggies.

bbq jackfruit texture

looks legit

Peace x

15 random facts about me

Hey guys! It’s been a while, but I’m back!

I figured the best way to kick off this post is with a few facts about me to give you guys an opportunity to learn more about me. So let’s dive in!

  1. zodiac sign: Taurus/Gemini
  2. three fears: spiders, cancer, planes (falling)
  3. three things i love: cats, my family, horizon organic chocolate milk
  4. color underwear i’m wearing: plaid.. yup
  5. how many tattoos i have: only 1 for now
  6. how many piercing i have: 2
  7. a confession: I have been paleo for over 2 years and even have a paleo blog.. but now I am starting to realize the problems with eating meat and I’m transitioning to a meat-less diet, which is kind of derailing all my paleo blog plans
  8. my personality flaw: I’m a bit of an antagonist, but I am also the nicest person you’ll ever meet. Just don’t look at me the wrong way.
  9. my favorite app: currently using Prisma a lot for photos, and Plag for social
  10. eye color: steel grey sometimes with a green or blue hue
  11. relationship status: in one and happy about it
  12. do you drink? Not very often, & when I do, it’s only wine
  13. do you smoke cigarettes? I quit over a year ago
  14. last book i read: A Game of Thrones (I’m reading the second one now!).. Needless to say, I love that show!
  15. year i was born: 1992

Well that’s it for today. Stay tuned for new posts, delicious veggie dishes, and updates on my new hair!

facts about me

DIY String Art: State with Heart

I recently upped my game in home decor – I figure it’s time to fill my bare apartment walls with something cozy. String art came to mind immediately, as it is both easy to make, and looks very impressive.

String art can have many looks – it can be rustic, glamorous, colorful, or minimalist. The best part is that you can’t really go wrong while making it. There are many different materials that can work for this. Choose between thicker yarn or thinner strings, wooden or cork board background, small nails or large thumb tacks. It doesn’t really matter what exact materials you use, as long as you like the way they look.

Another great part about string art is that it can be anything – and it can be personal. I decided to make the outline of New York State with a heart in the city I have many fond memories of (Rochester).

string art new york state

String art works well with any geographic outlines, as long as they’re recognizable.

String art is also pleasantly cheap. The materials cost me less than $20 and now I have a unique piece of “art” that never fails to impress my guests.

Here is how I made my New York state string art.

Materials

  1. The board. I used a plain black  24in x 18in mounting board (it’s kind of like Styrofoam on the inside), but you can use whatever you like. Wood works really well (and gives it that nice rustic look), so do cork boards. Basically, any surface that would hold nails or tacks in place.
  2. The string. I used a medium thickness roll of yarn in an off-white color. It was about 300 yards, and I still had some left over. Any string/yarn would work, but I don’t recommend going too thin as that can easily tear.
  3. State outline. I simply Googled “new york state outline” and downloaded the first image I found.
  4. The nails/tacks. You will need to place these around the outline of your state. I actually used flat earring posts (3 packs)! I couldn’t find any nails or tacks in the right size/color, so the earrings worked well in that regard. But basically anything with a pointy end and a flat top would work. It needs to be long enough to pierce your board, stay in it, and hold the string wrapped around it.
  5. Super glue. Just in case. Depending on your materials, some nails might need a drop of glue to ensure they don’t fall out of the board once the string is wrapped around them.
  6. Hammer (optional). A hammer would be necessary if your board is made of wood. If you’re using cork board or any other softer board, you will be fine without the hammer.

State String Art Instructions

  1. Find your state outline online and download the image. Blow it up using Photoshop, Preview, or any image editing software. Make it a few inches smaller than your board: e.g. my board was 24×18, so I increased the size of the map image to about 20×16.
  2. Print it out in actual size, it will probably take up several pieces of printer paper. Tape the sheets together (don’t worry about precision, it’s not super important) and then cut out the state shape along the outline.
  3. Figure out the location of where you want your heart to go. Typically, this would be a meaningful city or region in your state. Use a heart stencil or draw a heart in that area. I printed out a heart I found on Google and outlined it because I’m terrible at drawing hearts!
  4. Carefully cut out the heart from your state stencil.
  5. Place the state stencil on your board and center it. Start placing your nails/tacks around the outline (use the hammer if you’re using a wooden board). Try to keep them at an even distance from each other. They should come out at least 1/4 inch from the board. Do the same for the inside of the heart.
  6. Carefully remove the paper stencil. You should be left with a perfect outline of your state with a heart outline made out of nails.
  7. Check to see if your nails are sturdy. If they’re easy to pull out, as was the case with my board, you might want to dab a drop of super glue at the base of each one. You wouldn’t want them falling out once you’ve wrapped the string around them! string art nail glue.jpg
  8. Begin wrapping the string. Tie it around one of the nails in the heart to secure it, and then wrap it around each of the “outside” nails, returning to the “heart” nails between each “outside” nail. I used this helpful Youtube video as a guide.string art state heart.jpg
  9. Once you’ve gone around the entire outline, secure the string by tying a discreet knot around one of the “heart” nails. Cut off any visible loose ends. You’re done!
  10. Hang it up and enjoy your new work of art!

Going Paleo: WEEK 2 Meal Plan

Week 1 Results

My first week of paleo is complete! I didn’t expect to see significant results, but I was pleasantly surprised that even 7 days could make a difference. Although I (stupidly) didn’t weigh myself before starting paleo, I could tell this morning that I appear to be significantly less “plump.” My face went from being round like the moon to being nice and angular, my arms look slimmer, my stomach is flat and light. I wasn’t chubby to begin with, but I definitely looked like I need some toning. After week 1, I would say I look like I’ve toned up quite a bit. I haven’t even started working out (other than light yoga), so I think the improvements is due entirely to paleo. I would say I lost between 2-3 lbs in week 1 (this is just an estimate since I didn’t weigh myself – won’t make that mistake next time!).

Week 1 Challenges

There were tough times, like when I craved sweets and breads and dairy, even though normally I barely have any sugar or milk. Sticking to my paleo meal plan really helped. It’s impossible to slip up when you know what you should be eating, have all the ingredients to make it, and no excuses not to.

Lunch can be hard if you don’t have last night’s leftovers. I assumed that I would find something “paleo” at the cafeteria at work, but that wasn’t always the case. Most of the time, there’s always a salad, but who wants to eat cold, flavorless salad every day for lunch? This week, I will try to plan lunches better.

The foods I missed the most were definitely carbs and starchy sides. I was so used to eating protein and carbs for dinner, that imagining a plate without a pile of pasta or mashed potatoes seemed impossible. Also, eating breakfast without bread. That’s a huge challenge for me. But I learned that there are many substitutes in the paleo world that can easily replace those foods with much healthier ingredients. For example, spaghetti squash and zucchinis are wonderful replacements for pasta. This week, I plan on baking paleo bread, which should help me with those situations when I just don’t know how to approach something without bread.

Eating out was another challenge. My boyfriend (not paleo) wanted some take-out and I spent about 40 minutes looking through the menus on GrubHub, trying to find something that would be acceptable as paleo. I found the only place that had relatively paleo-friendly foods was a Japanese hibachi restaurant. It wasn’t cheap, but it was delicious.

Favorite Meal

My favorite food from week 1 was the Crock Pot Beef Bourguignon – a hearty and delicious, french-y beef stew that happens to be very healthy.

Week 2 Meal Plan:

Saturday

Breakfast: Eggs with bacon and Paleo Bread

Lunch: Cucumber Sliders (cucumber slices with turkey, sliced cherry tomato, onion, and some dijon mustard in between)

Dinner: Man-Pleasing Chicken with Tomato Zucchini Noodles

Sunday

Lunch: Beef, Carrot, Sweet Potato Soup with Paleo Bread

Dinner: Pot Roast with Garlic Thyme Butternut Squash

Monday

Lunch: Leftover Beef, Carrot, Sweet Potato Soup w/ Paleo Bread

Dinner: Coconut Chicken Strips

Tuesday

Lunch: Cucumber Sliders (cucumber slices with turkey, sliced cherry tomato, onion, and some dijon mustard), hard boiled egg.

Dinner: Easy Chicken Spinach

Wednesday

Lunch: Turkey Wraps, Veggies, Hard Boiled Egg, Fruit, Nuts

Dinner: Shrimp Scampi with Zucchini Noodles

Thursday

Lunch: Turkey-Cucumber Roll-Ups

Dinner: Spaghetti Squash Carbonara With Chicken

Friday

Lunch: Leftovers Spaghetti Squash Carbonara With Chicken

Dinner: Kielbasa, Onion, Pepper, Potato Hash (replace potato with sweet potato!)

Paleo CrockPot Beef Bourguignon Recipe

My first week of paleo is going rather well and I wanted to share with you a great recipe from Paleo Leap, that – I can already tell – will become a staple in my new paleo meal routine: Paleo Beef Bourguignon.

Beef Bourguignon is a classic French beef stew made with vegetables, mushrooms and a wine broth. The paleo version of it excludes flour and starches. This recipe is typically rather time-consuming and requires a dutch oven (which I do not have). So I decided to simplify it and make it in the crockpot! It turned out great – the meat was incredibly tender and flavorful. I also ended up cooking the bacon differently and tweaking some things to suit my taste. I had a lot of leftovers and took them to work for lunch.

For me, the hardest part of paleo so far is parting with bread. But this stew is flavorful and filling enough to keep those carb cravings away. I hope you try it out sometime as an easy and delicious dinner!

Paleo CrockPot Beef Bourguignon

Original non-crockpot recipe here: Paleo Leap

Ingredients

3 lb stew beef

4 slices of bacon

1 sliced carrot

1 sliced onion

2 cups of high-quality red wine

2.5 cups natural beef stock

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

thyme

1/2 lb organic mushrooms, sliced

10 pearl onions, peeled

salt & pepper

Cooking Instructions

1. Place bacon on a pan and fry on a low-medium heat, turning occasionally, until the bacon is golden and crispy. Remove and place on a plate with a paper towel to dry and absorb the fat.

2. Using the same pan with the bacon fat still on it, sauté the beef until it is slightly brown on all sides. If the inside is still red, don’t worry – it’ll cook in the crock pot. Transfer the browned beef into the crockpot.

3. Use the same pan to sauté the vegetables: carrots, onions, and garlic. Sauté until they are soft, and add to the crockpot.

4. Once the bacon has cooled, break it into 1-inch pieces and add to the crockpot.

5. Add mushrooms and pearl onions and season with salt & pepper.

6. Pour in the red wine and beef stock. Add a couple teaspoons of thyme and a bay leaf.

7. Cook on high, stirring occasionally for 3-4 hours. You could also cook it on low for about 6-7 hours.

Enjoy!

Going Paleo: WEEK 1 Meal Plan

paleo diet meal plan

All my friends have gone on a low-carb diet, and I definitely need to as well… it’s been a cold winter and I’ve been sitting indoors, munching on comfort foods, living the life! It’s time to pay the price and make a better choice for my health and weight. Since the Atkins and other low-carb diets are just a bit too extreme for me, and since I want to lose no more than 10 lbs, I decided to finally try out the paleo diet.

What is Paleo?

Paleo, or the Paleolithic Diet, is a diet designed to imitate the daily nutritional intake of our ancestors who lived during the Paleolithic era, when they ate truly clean foods, before the introduction of food processing, agriculture, and refined sugar. The diet is believed to be the healthiest for human beings, because our bodies have been adapted to this type of eating for over 2.5 million years. Our metabolism hasn’t yet adapted to the introduction of new foods and processes, which is why obesity, heart disease and diabetes are so common today.

The diet requires you to eat protein (red meat, poultry, seafood), and a good amount of fiber (as long as it doesn’t come from starchy foods or legumes). You should avoid dairy, grains, legumes (beans and peanuts), processed foods, refined sugar, and trans fats. The foods you exclude are similar, but not limited to, those of a low-card diet.

Paleo promises to help you lose weight (some people have lost 100 lbs!), improve your cardiovascular health, keep you more energized throughout the day, and improve your overall well-being. Paleo is definitely a long-term, safe and healthy diet. Paired with some light excercise it becomes a complete lifestyle change.

Paleo Meal Plan WEEK 1

Paleo is not cheap, because you will be paying a lot for grass-fed meats (optional, but recommended), and a lot of fresh organic produce (again, it doesn’t need to be organic, but that’s recommended) that can get costly. However, paleo is definitely not an expensive diet either, most of these foods you are already buying, and since you will be excluding many items, it might actually be cheaper than your average shopping trip. Paleo does involve a good amount of cooking, since processed foods are, quite literally, off the table. Luckily for me, I get catered lunches twice a week at work, so I will not have to come up with a lunch on those days. I go shopping on Fridays, so my weekly meal plan starts on Saturday:

Saturday:

Breakfast: Zucchini and Sweet Potato Frittata

Lunch: Avocado Tuna Salad with Lettuce

Dinner: Beef Bourguignon

Sunday:

Breakfast: Eggs and Bacon

Lunch: Leftover Beef Bourguinon

Dinner: Paleo Spaghetti

Monday:

Lunch: Leftover Paleo Spaghetti

Dinner: Paleo Shepherd’s Pie

Tuesday:

Lunch: catered

Dinner: Balsamic Salmon w/Cherry Tomatoes and Spinach

Wednesday:

Lunch: Avocado Tuna Salad with Lettuce

Dinner: Red Wine Roast Chicken with Sweet Potato

Thursday:

Lunch: catered

Dinner: Tuscan Chicken Skillet 

How to Have a Green (and Awesome) 4th of July!

Independence Day is a big holiday here in the USA, often celebrated outdoors, with delicious foods on the grill, big coolers full of beer, and American flags everywhere! It’s fun. But, a lot of 4th of July activities are terrible for the environment, especially when almost everyone in the country is participating in the festivities. Below are a few tips to help you reduce your footprint this weekend, and still have a blast!

Green Tips for the 4th of July

1. Biodegradable Kitchenware

Whether you will be partying indoors, on the deck, or at a beach, you probably don’t want a pile full of dishes to deal with after the festivities are over. It’s logical to opt for some plastic forks and knives. This year, however, I urge you to buy biodegradable forks, knives, cups, and plates. Don’t know where to begin? Vegware makes biodegradable cutlery, cups, and plates – all for reasonable prices. If you have a compost – or if there is a compost in your community (which you should definitely take advantage of) – I suggest Plantware Cutlery – these plates and utensils are compostable, stylish, and made in the USA.

 

Plantware Cutlery from ecoproducts.com

Plantware Cutlery from ecoproducts.com

 

2. Grilling Greener

You may not know this, but traditional charcoal grills produce twice as much carbon as gas grills. A more eco-friendly option for grilling is propane, because of its lower emissions and little waste – propane tanks can be returned and refilled. If you have your heart set on charcoal (mmm, nothing tastes better than charcoal-grilled steak), buy lump charcoal instead of briquettes, which can contain additives that are bad for your health and the environment.

Opt for environmentally preferable charcoal, or propane grilling

Opt for environmentally preferable charcoal, or propane grilling

3. Stock up at the Farmer’s Market

Eating organic and locally-sourced food is not only good for you, but it is great for pollution prevention! Fewer emissions are produced when food only has to travel a couple of miles from its source, instead of shaking in the back of an 18-wheeler across the entire country. Go to your local Farmer’s Market this week, and get all the veggies, fruits, meats, and sausages you need. Stop by the wine booth and pick up some organic local wine. Which brings me to my next point…

Local food = cleaner air

Local food = cleaner air

4. Green booze

I know you don’t want to hear this on 4th of July, but beer is the least eco-friendly type of alcohol because it goes through a rigorous heating-cooling process (which uses a lot of energy), produces a lot of water waste, uses agriculturally-intensive ingredients, and then usually travels great distances to reach retail shelves around the world. That doesn’t mean the party is ruined though. If you want beer, opt for cans, not glass bottles. Cans are lighter (therefore require less energy to transport) and are easier to recycle than glass is. Also, some beers are certified organic, which means, at the very least, that no harsh chemicals were used during the farming process, which is a great plus for the environment! If you are expecting a lot of people to come over, it may be a good idea to get a keg. The keg will leave zero waste behind and it’s a much more efficient way to get beer to your party.

Not a beer fan? There are more options for you to drink green!  Square One Organic Vodka is very environmentally-friendly. Square One uses less water and goes as far as printing its labels on sustainably-grown fiber materials. Boxed wine is also a great way to reduce your footprint this year.

Drink local if you can, drink smart otherwise

Drink local if you can, drink smart otherwise

5. Ditch the private show

Sorry, no backyard fireworks this year. Fireworks, at least the ones you can buy at a store, are terrible for air quality. If everyone is setting them off in their backyards, we might end up like Beijing, where excessive use of fireworks last year resulted in hazardous levels of air pollution in a matter of hours. Instead, take a walk to your town park, or wherever the municipalities are displaying fireworks, and enjoy the view with other fellow Americans.

Watch the public fireworks display to reduce air pollution

Watch the public fireworks display to reduce air pollution

6. Eco-friendly décor

I love 4th of July for the decorations. Everything is beautifully-patriotic and red-white-and-blue. But like most decorations, Independence Day décor usually gets drunkenly thrown into the trash can, or worse – scattered around the ground until someone else picks it up and sends it to the landfill. There are many ways to make your celebration greener: buy recycled paper materials, recyclable materials, and compostable party supplies. They even have eco-friendly American flags made from recycled plastic. Even if you can’t get your hands on such things, make sure to reuse your decorations every year so that you are not contributing more garbage to the landfill. Another great idea is to use live potted flowers instead of fake ones for your centerpiece. That way, after the party, they will still serve a green purpose – turning carbon into oxygen.

Live plants serve as great decorations and benefit the environment at the same time!

Live plants serve as great decorations and benefit the environment at the same time!

 

That’s about it! Do you know some other great ways to be environmentally-conscious this holiday? Leave a reply in the comments!

And remember, if we want a greener world, if we want companies to be more responsible when it comes to the environment, then we (as consumers) must show our support and demand for greener products by choosing them over regular products as much as we can.

Project Balcony Garden: Preparation

project balcony garden

A big part of budgeting for me is finding ways to cut down on food, since it’s one of the only variable costs I have.. everything else is out of my control, like monthly bills and rent. I always make sure to plan my grocery trips ahead and make sure I stay on budget.

Now that the weather is getting a little bit nicer and I have so much free time now (I just graduated college! :)) I decided to cut my costs even further by starting my very own balcony garden! Many people believe that apartment living makes it impossible to have a garden, especially one that produces organic delicious edibles. But I have been doing a lot of research and found that to be far from truth.

So, starting this week I will be working on my balcony garden, and will record my progress and any tips here. Let’s start with preparation, because without the necessary preliminary work, you will find yourself at Home Depot with absolutely no plan, and might end up spending money on the wrong thing.

Disclaimer: I am definitely a gardening newbie and still learning as I go. My advice will hopefully be helpful for other beginners looking for simple ways to pick up some gardening in their free time (and small space). If you are a gardening expert – your input is always welcome in the comments🙂

Identify Your Environment

The first step is to figure out the environment you live in, such as the climate and the direction your balcony faces.

In order to figure out what type of herbs, flowers, and vegetables you can grow in your area, I suggest going to this website and searching by your zip code. You will be provided the “Plant Hardiness Zone” for your area. Knowing which zone you live in can help you figure out what plants can survive well in that climate.

Find out what hardiness zone you live in before you select your plants

Find out what hardiness zone you live in before you select your plants

Then, take note of what direction your balcony or patio is facing to determine the amount of sunlight your future garden will receive. If it’s facing south – you lucked out, since most herbs and veggies call for 8 or more hours of sunlight a day. However, if your balcony gets less sunlight than that – don’t fret, as there are plenty of plants that thrive in partial sun and even in mostly shady regions.

Pick Your Plants

Here is the fun part! Now that you know what type of plants you can accommodate, start making a list of those you absolutely need. For my purposes, I wanted a lot of edibles (to cut down supermarket costs), some medicinal herbs, and a couple different flowers to keep my balcony looking lush and pretty.

To give you an example, I live in the 6th Hardiness Zone, and my balcony gets partial sun (3-6 hrs a day). Here are the plants I want to start with:

Herbs

  • Chives: I use them often for their oniony flavor. They are hardy in zones 3-10, and don’t require a lot of space.
  • Lavender: It’s gorgeous, and I use it for brewing relaxing and mood elevating teas. Lavender is hardy in zones 5-10.
  • Parsley: Russian cooking calls for a lot of parsley, so I’m going to need it. Hardy in zones 3-9.
  • Sage: Great for seasoning poultry and for air freshening. Hardy in zones 4-10 (although it can grow in all of them).
  • Garlic: Also grows just about anywhere, and there’s always demand for it.

Vegetables

  • Onions: I use them all the time, and growing them is super easy. Easily grow in most environments, but require deep planters.
  • Potatoes: easy to grow, delicious when not store bought. However, require a deep large pot. Grow in most areas.
  • Tomato: because they are delicious when freshly harvested, used for many foods, and can grow hanging upside down!
  • Carrots: why not? I will need a special variety that grows better in pots – this means shorter, wider and rounder types of carrots, such as Thumbelina, Parisienne, and Danvers Half Long.

Flowers

  • Petunias: pretty flowers for a balcony rail planter. Grow well in zones 4-8.
Petunias

Petunias

  • Vinca: cute little flowers that easily grow in most regions, hardy zones 2-11, and come in a variety of colors such as pink, red, white, and blue.
Vincas

Vincas

  • Oxalis (shamrocks): bloom all summer in small clover-shaped flowers of shades ranging between silver and purple. Hardy in zones 6 -11, and can keep growing all winter if you take them inside.
Purple Leaf Oxalis

Purple Leaf Oxalis

Pick Your Pots

Now that you have your plants chosen, you need to plan for the platers and pots for them. This is where you can get creative. Remember, not all pots need to come from the store, in fact you may have some lying around the house! Anything can work: old baskets, buckets, tubs, plastic containers, I’ve even seen herb planters made out of an old tea set! This is a great opportunity to up-cycle and design a truly unique look for your balcony garden!

Up-cycle other containers to use for planters

Up-cycle other containers to use for planters

Remember to make sure there are sufficient holes in the bottom of your chosen container to make sure the water can drain, otherwise your plants won’t like it.

Most importantly, do your research and find out how much space each plant needs. Then you can think about how many planters you can make out of existing materials and what you still need to purchase. Also keep in mind how much space you have on your balcony/patio. For smaller spaces, there are many great ways to use vertical space either by hanging planters or putting up shelves.

Here are some general guidelines for some of the plants I’ve chosen:

  • Herbs typically require the least amount of space and can be planted in 5-8in. terra cotta pots, mason jars, baskets, and even up-cycled soup cans (don’t forget those drain holes!)
Herbs need the least amount of space

Herbs need the least amount of space

  • You can also buy a large pot (16 in. or more) and plant your herbs together. Just make sure all your herbs require similar soil and watering schedule if they will be sharing a pot.
Let your herbs share a pot!

Let your herbs share a pot!

  • Onions require a pot that’s at least 10 in. deep. The width will depend on the number of onions you plan on planting. Terra cotta, plastic, wood, metal, and barrel planters work best.
  • Potatoes will need the biggest pot of all. They will grow in any large container – a clean garbage can, a bucket, a giant pot. Make sure it is at least 2 ft. deep.
  • Tomatoes also usually need a large pot, however I am going to try growing those upside down to leave some room on my balcony. Hanging tomatoes requires either a 5 gallon bucket or a 2-liter plastic soda bottle, and I will soon post a tutorial here (if you don’t want to wait – check out YouTube for some amazing tutorials for upside-down tomato growing!).
Save space by hanging your tomato plant

Save space by hanging your tomato plant

  • Carrots, the types that grow best in pots, will need at least a foot deep container.
  • Flowers are the most versatile, but I plan on planting them in those rectangular boxes that I will hang along my balcony rail.

flower box

Pick Your Soil

Most of your container plants will thrive best in potting soil. Potting soil is different from garden soil. It contains more nutrients, and has a texture that prevents water from suffocating the plant. If you’re growing edibles, like me, I would suggest using organic soil, which can be found at your local home improvement store, nursery, or even Walmart’s garden center.

What about fertilizer? Well, some people suggest using it, others say “don’t”. Since I am a beginner, I can use all the help I can get, so I will opt for the slow-release organic fertilizer pellets. There is also liquid fertilizer that can be mixed in with the water you use to water your plants. In addition, you can use compost.

So There You Have It!

Stay tuned for my detailed step-by-step instructions on how to actually plant all these herbs, vegetables, and flowers! I hope this helps you get an idea of what will go into your balcony garden project. As you can see it’s not that much work, just read up on it and talk to the sales associates at your garden center.

And one final tip: hold on to the plant tags you get when you purchase your plats/seeds/seedlings (in my next post I will get into which method works best for which plants), because those tags have all the care information you will need throughout your plant’s life!