With springís arrival on March 20, you might be feeling the urge to start a garden. But if you live in a space with no yard, or in the middle of the city, you might be thinking you canít satisfy this urge.
Even if you live in the heart of the city and all you have is a balcony, rooftop, or a patio, you can still grow some fresh fruits and veggies. You just have to learn what you can grow, instead of focusing on what you canít grow.
Here are some tips for small-space gardening.
Use container planting. Almost any vegetable can be grown in a container, if the container is big enough. Anything can be used: old tubs, old window frames put together to make a box and a wheelbarrow all make great containers, so use your imagination! Think about the size of the plant. How wide will it get? How tall? What about the size and depth of the root system? Research your favorite veggies, read seed packets (a good seed company puts this important information on the package for you). Once you have the right container, then you just need to fill it with good potting soil, have a spot that provides full sun at least six hours a day, and water it consistently.
Grow up. Many crops can be easily trained to grow up poles, trellises, or even lattices attached to walls. Any kind of support that is sturdy enough to use string across it will work. You can use planter boxes in different sizes and stack them to make a vertical garden. When choosing what to plant, think about things that can be trained to grow up. Pole beans, peas and even cucumbers are good contenders.
Use succession planting to create more space. Succession planting (sowing seeds of the same crop every few weeks), will allow you to have more of your favorites for a longer time. Leaf lettuces are especially good for this because they grow quickly. If you start seeds in a different planter every two to three weeks, you will have enough lettuce to last you all summer.
Use companion planting. Companion planting basically means planting things next to each other that benefit one another, by providing needed shade, acting as a natural pest control, or adding nutrients to the soil. Not only is lettuce a good crop for succession planting, it is also a great companion plant. Since lettuce is a bit more shade tolerant and actually prefers less direct sun, planting or putting those containers of lettuce beneath your taller plants or vertical planters will help them thrive during the hot summer afternoons. Aside from lettuce, think about other crops that can tolerate some shade, and plant them next to taller ones, especially leafy vegetables like cabbage, chard, endive, mustard greens, parsley and spinach (all cool season crops). Or, think about things that grow faster or earlier like radishes and peas, and plant them with your warm season crops that are slow growing, like peppers or tomatoes.
Use compact or dwarf varieties. There are varieties made specifically for containers or small areas. When choosing plants, look for anything that’s marked patio, container, baby or dwarf. If you think you can’t grow a fruit tree, there are even dwarf varieties of apple, citrus, peach, and pear trees that do great in containers.