Plants and garden decor are pictured inside Moss on Washington Street on Wednesday, May 10. Moss opened up for business in October of last year. (The Daily Iowan/Ben Smith)

Finding the green thumb

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By Hannah Crooks

hannah-crooks@uiowa.edu

Only six months after opening, Iowa City’s newest indoor gardening boutique, Moss, 112 E Washington St, has
quickly become a beloved place for community members and college students to satisfy their planting needs. With a number of different “build-your-own” workshops, from terrariums and succulent gardens to Kokedamas, spheres of soil covered in moss that you can grow plants in, Moss makes it incredibly easy for beginner gardeners to get started in plant care.

A popular event at the shop is called Plant Party, in which customers pay $10 fee for the evening and then are offered wine or beer (nonalcoholic beverages for those under 21), and they get to pot their own plants and take them home.

“[Plant Party] is kind of an anything goes thing,” owner Anne Armitage said. “The evening isn’t limited to just getting a plant and potting it. If you wanted to build a terrarium or a fairy garden, there would be people on hand to walk you through the steps of doing that. If you wanted to do something else a little more complicated, we’re prepared to help you put together really anything.”

Other workshops run in a similar format but are designated to a specific project. Armitage emphasized that many of the plants have very low-maintenance care.

“Here, we specialize in indoor gardening,” she said. “Most of the plants we carry are really easy care, and we offer a lot of different care information about the different plants we sell. We will walk you through how to care for the plant you pick out or give you some ideas depending on how much light you have or what kind of plant caretaker you are. We’ll give you tips on which plants would be best for you.”

Members of the University of Iowa Gardeners club also shared ways students can become involved with gardening during the summer and school year. The group has a plot of land near the Hawk Lot, where they grow the majority of their produce. The food is distributed to student members as well as to the Iowa Food Pantry and the Crisis Center Food Bank.

“Basically, we are just a group of students and sometimes community members who get together and talk about gardening and do gardening,” Co-President Makenzie Putz said. “We learn about gardening. And you don’t have to be a member of the organization to use the garden or to have produce.”

While being a part of the organization does allow students the ability to grow their own food, and therefore save money on groceries, club secretary Natalie Maves also stays for the bonds she creates with the other members.

“I enjoy the sense of community,” Maves said. “Meeting people that are very like-minded and being able to grow food with them, and share meals from the food that you grew. And anyone can come out and volunteer and take advantage of the produce that we grow. It’s delicious.”

For those who have no gardening experience and are wondering where to begin, Co-President Andrew Metzger suggests to start with “whatever you like to eat.” He also pointed out the helpfulness of the Iowa City Farmers’ Market. Buying local food can be an accessible way to be more eco-friendly this summer and get a simple start to gardening.

“Right now, the Farmers’ Market is actually selling a lot of transplants, so shout out to them,” Metzger said. “An easy way to get going in the summer is to buy a small plant at the Farmers’ Market and transplant it to a pot.”

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