How To Grow a Vegetable Garden: 4 Tips

Sara Gasbarra, the founder of a Chicago garden design service called Verdura, shares some trade secrets for spring.


Photography: (Gasbarra) Jeff Maimon; (thumbnail) courtesy of verdura

Sara Gasbarra Founder, Verdura

As the owner of Verdura, a company that creates custom vegetable and herb gardens for homeowners and restaurants (Floriole Cafe & Bakery, The Savoy), Sara Gasbarra knows how to mind her peas and cucumbers. Plus, she’s generous about sharing tips:

What is the key to an abundant harvest? “Whether your garden is in a large suburban backyard or an Earthbox on a city rooftop, the area should get six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day; water access should be very close; and soil health is key. For a raised bed, use an organic soil/compost mix (Lake Street Landscape Supply has fantastic options); for a smaller container, use a lightweight organic soil mix, such as Fox Farm’s Happy Frog.”

What are the easiest vegetables to plant from seed? “Greens. My favorites include Sylvetta arugula, Lacinato kale, and broccoli rabe.”

Which are the most challenging? “Zucchini summer squash and some varieties of winter squash. Both are susceptible to disease.”

What are your favorite gardening tools? “My Felco #7 pruners and my copy of The Essential Urban Farmer, by Novella Carpenter.”

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