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If you yearn for fresh veggies picked at the height of freshness, but aren’t sure how to garden in small spaces, then by the end of this article, you will have plenty of ideas to get you started.
For many years, I lived in a small apartment near Washington DC, but on my tiny balcony, I still managed to eek out some cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and strawberries.
Even if you have a small yard or no yard, you can still start a garden in strategic ways, and you can supplement your family’s diet while enjoying the pleasure of getting your hands in the dirt and watching the seeds you plant grow and thrive.
Decide on a location
Before you decide what to grow, you first need to consider light.
Your location needs to have plenty of sun; most vegetables need at least 6 hours of sun in order to grow and set fruit. If they don’t get that much, you will either have no vegetables or they will be stunted.
Does your porch or patio have room for a window box? You can install several planters, and choose attractive varieties such as pumpkins or butternut squash so your surroundings are beautiful as well as functional.
Your location should also be out of direct wind, and in an area where your plants will be protected.
Also think about how you will water your plants; if you have just a porch, you won’t be able to use a hose, for example.
When it comes to planters, you have lots of options. I had great luck growing cherry tomatoes in hanging planters. You can use ones that only cost $1 or ones that cost hundreds, but are self-watering, like this one.
Another option is a gardening table like this one, or a planter that aids in square foot gardening. Just be sure your planters drain well, and are spacious enough for your plants.
Don’t break the bank gearing up for gardening in your small space. Try galvanized buckets, food-safe five-gallon paint pails, or inexpensive window boxes.
How to decide what to grow
Even your window can support a window box that yields a plethora of herbs like mint, sorrel, basil, and thyme. You might also consider growing tea herbs like chamomile and rosemary. Oregano and parsley can be used in many ways to flavor a variety of meats or bulk up a salad.
Most of these herbs can be clustered together in a few window boxes to make the most use out of the least amount of space.
Cherry tomatoes, dwarf apple trees, and many other fruits and veggies thrive in appropriately sized containers.
Herbs, salad greens, and many varieties of peppers can be grown in kitchens, on window sills, or in the containers. Strawberries and cucumbers fare well in vertical gardens, and so does squash like zucchini or yellow squash.
When seedlings arrive at your local nursery, you can purchase some to kickstart your garden. Another more economical approach, is to ask friends and family for cuttings and sprouts or opt for low-cost, high-yield seeds or seedlings.
Remember, also, that many fruiting plants, like squash, require pollination to set fruit. If bees aren’t visiting your garden, you will need to hand-pollinate. You can do this easily with a Q-tip, gently sweeping pollen from a male flower and visiting female flowers on the plant, just as a bee would do.
Another option to maximize small spaces is hydroponic gardening. This is a different type of container gardening that involves no soil. To make starting easier, you can purchase a hydroponic kit that eliminates a lot of the guess work.
The frugal foodie in your family will love all the meals that can be prepared with the produce from your tiny gardens. One you have a system, you’ll find it’s quite easy to grow in smaller spaces.
I’d like to hear from you!
Do you garden in a small space? Got any advice? Leave a comment below!
Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.