It occurred to me that there are a lot of you out there that don’t have the space I have to plant a garden in. Perhaps you are just starting out in an apartment or are enjoying the big city life where you have a balcony or a stoop, front steps, or an apartment kitchen window. Our daughter lives in Brooklyn ,and I love to stroll the streets admiring some of the most amazing tiny space gardens in front of those old brownstone buildings and now, urban community- lot gardens are popping up in cities everywhere.They kick out a lot of food and flowers !
How exciting for you !!!! No worries ! Time to get your art on. Greenhouses and farms are pretty much planted in straight rows, right ? That’s great , but there are some serious design opportunities to be had creating edible gardens in tiny spaces. So, lucky you !
Challenge accepted !
So before I get all caught up in chatting about spring greenhouses and our farm , I would really like to share some ideas that I have seen and some great plants that are perfectly suited for your smaller spaces. You can create a totally magical and edible landscape right on your front porch.
Choosing containers – the skies the limit !
If you love to frequent garage sales or street markets, keep your eyes open for containers you love. Just buy it because you love it. Maybe it ‘s for its color or its shape or size, but if it struck you , buy it . There’s a reason it caught your eye. That says something about you ! As long as it’s a good deal, purchase it . Very often you’ll find pots for a buck , AND it doesn’t even have to be a pot. It could be anything that you think will hold enough growing medium ( your plants need space to grow ) for whatever plant you have in mind.
Important ! You do need to have a drainage hole if you intend to plant in it . You may be able to drill one or punch one into something that doesn’t already have one, but it is necessary. Some will say you can fill the bottom with rocks and the water will drain down to that area, which is true , but what will happen is that bottom water will turn really nasty in a short period of time . Also your outdoor pots will fill with water after the first good rain . Without a drainage hole , you will come out to a garden of floating plants . Your pots will just fill up with rainwater. So , just my opinion, but I would opt to always make sure you have a drainage hole into whatever cool thing you found to plant in.
Let’s look around your home and see what you might have just laying around. Your container just has to be something that can hold enough growing medium to support the size plant you are planning to put into it and still have room to grow . I had a friend that took all her collected conch shells, and she converted them into growing containers. She mixed some other pots in with them and created this beautiful seascape of a garden on her porch. Just gorgeous !
Now what ?
So gather up those containers and play with where you will be placing them. You will need good light for most plants, but there are some for shaded areas as well . Lettuces will do well in partial shade. Think about rain shedding off of roofs too. That can easily make a mess of pots even with drainage.
Perhaps you are setting up an area in your kitchen window. No worries about the weather outside there.
Easy access – you want to enjoy this experience , so make sure you locate your potted garden in an area easy for you to water, harvest, pinch and prune. You don’t want caring for this magical place to become a dreaded chore , so take a little time to think your plan out and locate your potted garden in an outdoor space that is easy to access.
The hard part – choosing your plants.
Start slow and grow.
We all get carried away and often don’t take into account the amount of time it takes to properly care for this ,your new amazing garden space. If working outside, take into account the sun or shade. Start with a wish list. Keep it manageable. You can always add on as you grow.
A few suggestions for small space gardens.
Blueberries – Top Hat
Great choice for a patio or any small space. It’s nice to have some berries if you can manage to beat the birds to them !
Strawberries- you can grow many varieties of these in hanging baskets too if you have a place for hanging pots!
Tomatoes -choose a patio type , or some of the new dwarf varieties. Sweet and Neat Scarlet ( http://www.harrisseeds.com ) .We grow one in the greenhouse called Tumbling Tom ( http://www.harrisseeds.com ) in hanging baskets. They are red or yellow ,and the growth habit of the plant is flat, so it hangs down over the pot. They have a wonderful robust flavor perfect for roasting or drying. We roast ours and process them for a quick pizza sauce all winter long! Our friends always ask for our pizza when they visit ! It’s the tomatoes that make it special .
Herbs- most any kind will thrive in a container , but I would plant one per pot. You see photos all over with combinations of herbs, but if you cook a lot and really need a substantial amount, plant one per pot. Constant trimming will promote growth, so don’t be afraid to cut them and use them. If too much is coming on too fast, many are easily dried just by laying out on a rack and turning every few days. Rosemary, thyme, and dill all dry well this way.
Cucumbers – Patio Snacker ( http://www.harrisseeds.com ) – great for pots !
We grow National Pickler in hanging baskets in our greenhouse. You can grow it on your porch too ! ( http://www.highmowingseeds.com )
The list of what you can grow in containers is endless. Oh !!!!! don’t forget a lemon tree or pineapple. I am trying a pineapple this year on my deck .
So let’s get creative . You are not limited by space – citrus , berries, vegetables, herbs, and flowers can all be orchestrated into your own magical edible space. Hopefully you have put a chair or two out there to sit and enjoy a cup of tea or a cocktail and relish in all your hard work !
The take away – no space is too small, start small and grow, choose a container sized appropriate for what you would like to plant with a drainage hole in the bottom , a container that you love, good organic potting soil, good light and easy access to your personal amazing space !
Oops – we will talk about fertilizers ! For now , pick up a good organic fertilizer. We use Vermont Organics in the greenhouses and everywhere else for that matter. Organic will appear more costly , but it saves you money in the long run as it lasts in the soil for a very long time feeding your hard work , not washing through and having to be replaced every week like many synthetic fertilizers.
Your potted garden will nourish you in so many ways – mind , body and spirit as well as any big farm could.