Growing food in small spaces
So, you got a place in town. It’s perfect. You have amazing views, you’re in the right location, really close to work, friends and gym. Only one small challenge: You have no space to grow anything…
You’ll be surprised at what you can grow in the smallest of spaces. A balcony, courtyard or even a window sill make great growing areas. In fact, there may even be some places you would never have thought of. Why not go vertical with a small wall garden? There’s nothing more rewarding than having a window sill full of lettuce or tomatoes. What about having friends over for Mojito’s made using fresh mint from your balcony!? Providing you have some sun, you’re golden. Here are some great ideas for greening even the smallest space in your house or apartment:
Get creative! As long as you have drainage holes, you can really plant in anything. Ceramic pots, old wooden boxes, Coke bottles cut in half, milk cartons, an old tea pot, a burlap sack, plastic crates or even an old wheelbarrow. It’s a good idea to line these with a weed mat to stop soil from running out. Make sure too that if you’re thinking about placing these indoors, to put a tray underneath to stop water from damaging your floors / sills.
If you really have no space, why not get a sprouter? Sprouter’s are great ways of growing incredibly nutritious food, really quickly, without too much fuss.
You can plant many herbs and salads in surprisingly small spaces. If you choose your salads thoughtfully, you can find varieties that will continue growing after harvesting the outer leaves. There are a great variety of lettuces that will do this like Lollo Rosso, Oak Leaf, Salad Bowl and Red Sail varieties. Most of the common kitchen herbs will grow well on a sunny window sill in small pots. Small varieties of tomatoes will grow well here too, try Roma, Cherry or the little Yellow Pear Tomatoes. Don’t forget, you don’t need to confine your growing plant to the pot alone, use stakes to grow peas and beans up, or even use the burglar bars to trail tomatoes!
There are several factors to consider when growing food in small spaces. Make sure your plants are getting at least an hour or two of sun every day. Container gardening requires that you keep the soil alive and well. If replanting, make sure to use new soil and put the rest into the compost. While plants are growing, use an organic fertiliser to promote root growth – something like worm tea or one of the commercially available organic liquid feeds works a treat. Mulch your soil to avoid moisture and nutrient loss through evaporation.
If you have some old pots lying around that need reviving, make sure to empty the soil out, give them a good clean, and re-pot them using a good quality potting soil that has sand already mixed. This will improve drainage. It’s also good practice to lay stones or similar at the base of your pot plant, under the soil. This too aids with drainage.
With container gardening, it’s important to monitor the moisture content of your soil. As a general rule, food crops will need watering every day during the summer or at least every second day. Best way to make sure whether your plants need water is to feel the soil, if its damp, don’t water.
Above all, have fun! Growing in small spaces is a deeply rewarding exercise and you’ll start seeing the fruits of your labour very quickly. Good luck and happy gardening!