You don’t have to own acres of land to grow tasty vegetables…or even fruit!
Following are some tips and tricks for gardening in a small space that will fill your baskets with bright and tasty foods and help you save money too!
Gardening in a small space obviously requires that you make the most of the space that you do have. This can mean different ways of planting each individual plant and/or using different kinds of containers and medium to grow the plants in.
There’s no real “wrong” way to garden in a small space…as long as each plant has the necessary sun, water and nutrients it will grow wherever you plant it.
When you think of gardening in a small place, container gardening is probably what comes to mind.
Some of the more common options to use for containers include plastic containers, window boxes, planters, 5 gallon buckets or even wooden boxes. It’s important, however, to avoid any treated wood products as the chemicals can be absorbed by your plants…then consumed by you!
The most important consideration for a container is that it is big enough to hold the plant at full growth, and that it has drainage holes to let excess water escape.
Consider color too – darker colors absorb heat, which may heat up the soil too much, especially in areas where the summer gets really hot.
The variety of vegetables or fruits that you plant will also dictate the size container you need.
For example, a full size, beefsteak tomato will need lots of room to grow – plus a cage to support its growth, whereas a smaller, grape tomato plant will need a cage to support it, but the container doesn’t need to be as big.
Other considerations for pot size:
- ✷20″ or more – vining plants – eg. standard size tomatoes; cucumbers
- ✷16″ – shorter, bushier plants – peppers
- ✷Use heavy containers for trellised plants to prevent it from tipping over
The right soil mix should be well drained, aerated and have a pH that’s as close to neutral as possible. Potting mixes which have organic matter like bark chips, compost and peat moss are a good choice.
This particular kind of container gardening takes advantage of vertical space and can take many forms.
From repurposed pallets to old fencing, to simple metal wires strung from one post to another, the possibilities of growing vegetables and fruits vertically are limited only by your imagination.
Types of foods that work well in containers
- ✷Spring onion
- ✷Peppers / Capsicum
Miniature and/or dwarf varieties of fruit trees also work well in containers. Some common fruit trees include:
- ✷Meyer lemons
Keeping pests away
The bane of every gardener is any number of pests, but it’s possible to reduce the impact they have on your harvest with some pre-planning.
You can use chemicals to keep a number of garden pests away, but at the risk of consuming poisons, try the following organic methods first.:
Derived from a tree in India, neem oil is commonly used as an organic insecticide. It’s non-toxic to humans and animals, but deadly for insects.
However, instead of killing them, it affects their hormones, making them forget to eat and to lay eggs, which of course means they eventually die and don’t leave offspring behind.
When sprayed once, every 7 days it will keep most pests from destroying your plants. Also, it’s not harmful to most beneficial insects…a definite plus.
Note: Only buy “cold pressed” organic Neem oil that’s acceptable for human consumption and use on vegetable. Mix the oil with water to help it spread more evenly across your plants.
One of the simplest, and easiest ways to reduce pests is to put beneficial plants next to each other. For example, garlic and chives are not favored by most insects, so planting them next to your vegetables works well as a natural repellant.
Netting will help with the following:
Look for netting that is:
- ✷UV resistant
- ✷has 1-2 mm holes (this excludes more bugs but is enough for water to pass through)
Snails and slugs
Remove them by hand (slip on some gloves to make the job less “icky”). The best time to do this is in the morning or while it’s raining.
Place a tray of beer near your plants. Slugs and snails will get drunk and then drown.
Rabbits and other mammals
Fencing around your collection of containers.
It’s easy to keep your plants weed free when they’re in containers…simply pull out the offending plants by hand and you’re done!
Growing plants and vegetables in a small space isn’t hard, it just takes a bit of planning to ensure that your plants get everything they need to thrive.
Once you’ve set up your garden not only will it provide you and your family with tasty food that’s both chemical free and nutritious, you’ll enjoy the fragrant and colorful blossoms as your plants grow to maturity.