You may have visions of growing Babylon’s hanging gardens at home, but if space, time, money or resource is an issue, why not consider a simple tin garden instead?
If you’ve got a one foot square space near some sunlight and a gallon of water, growing your very own garden in a metal mint tin is a cheap and versatile way to grow everything from cacti to bonsai trees.
Green-fingered writer Ashley Lipman explores how to do this, alongside a few other alternative ideas for living quarters small and large.
Prepare Your Tin
An ideal tin for creating your very own small garden is an Altoids case, but you can use any mint or bubblegum tin. In fact, you could use a variety of them.
Here’s the basic way to prepare things: get the tin, pop off the lid, and poke some holes in the bottom.
You can use a knife, if you’ve got the hand strength you can use a hole punch, or you could take a pen, turn the tin upside down, and jab the pen through the metal using a hammer to push it through.
Just poke about seven holes in the bottom; three on either side and one in the middle.
Then, put the lid on the bottom of the tin covering the holes. When you water your little garden, a little bit will come out the bottom.
Slight overflow from the lid lets you know when to stop adding water, and let the plants sit for a while. Next, you want to look into soil.
Different Soils For Different Plants
A human needs exercise and nourishment in proper balance to flourish. Plants are similar: they need water and sunlight.
However, some plants need more or less of either. If you put too much sun on a plant that prefers the shade, it’s going to wilt. If you give too little sun to something like a cactus, it’s not going to do as well.
Additionally, plants draw nutrients from the water as it combines with the soil and makes mud amidst the roots.
This is where things like mulch, fertilizer, and miracle grow come into play.
You don’t need a lot for a garden in a mint tin. In fact, realistically, you might just get a handful of dirt from outside, fill the tin, plant your seeds, and go from there.
Still, “Garbage In, Garbage Out”—GIGO, if you will. Give your plants quality food, and they’ll do better.
So you want to know what you’re going to plant, and produce planting conditions which mirror the natural environment of the plants you want to flourish in your mint tin garden.
Choosing The Plants
Cactus, flowers, actual mint—there are a lot of different plants you can put in your mint tin. You might even plant a little bonsai tree, if you’re properly savvy.
Little vines can be grown that stretch around a room from a mint tin, provided you give them room to expand and water them regularly. You can also grow bamboo, and lavender gives you more than expected!
Wheatgrass and other edibles are also possible in your mint tin garden.
If you’re fond of Altoids or other mints, you could grow all the flora listed here and then some, putting it in the window of your apartment near a pitcher.
Alternative Ideas for Your Tin Garden
You can build your mint tin garden with multiple tins and fit them together like four-dimensional Tetris! (Four dimensional owing to involved time.)
While having a yard and an advanced irrigation system with the latest sprinklers can give you the ability to produce a remarkable garden, you can do the same thing in your apartment with a little ingenuity and perseverance.
Vines can be stretched around the interstices of your home, making the corners look fertile. Mint tins make truly amazing mobile tiny gardens!