Winter Container Gardening for Small Spaces
Whether you live in a spacious house or a tiny apartment, you can get in on growing at least some of your own food!
Last week, I talked a little bit about the environmental impact of eating meat. Another way to reduce your food footprint (foodprint?) is to grow your own food. This can be easier said than done, though, now that temperatures are dropping. We’ve already had to move a couple of plants out of the cold, and we’ve started growing some more cold-resistant plants in our containers out back.
The trick with any container garden is to choose quality, organic potting soil, make sure you have the right sized pot, and that you fertilize regularly with organic fertilizer. To choose your pot size, take a look at the plant’s care tag. The rule of thumb that’s worked for me is to choose a pot that’s the same width as the spacing. So, if the plants need to be 12″ apart, choose at least a 12″ pot. The same goes for plant food or fertilizer: read the instructions. We apply every few weeks, but depending on what you choose, you may be fertilizing more or less frequently.
I’m lucky enough to have a house with a yard and a porch where I can grow food, but even if you only have a little bit of space, you can grow some food plants with a little bit of planning. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Next>> Go Vertical
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by StarsApart
Vertical gardening is an excellent way to grow more food in a small space. Rather than placing just a single pot on a table, windowsill, or on the floor, you can make use of wall space to hang a row of planters full of small space food plants. If you’re working indoors, you don’t have to stick to just cold weather plants, but in case folks are wanting to do this outside, here are some smaller food plants that would work well vertically:
- Green onions
- Swiss chard
If you’re growing just indoors, herbs are a great option for vertical gardening. I’ve had great luck with:
You can find companies online that offer pots specifically designed for hanging on the wall, or you can make your own. I saw a very cute vertical garden idea that uses reclaimed bottle tops, or you can transform a hanging shoe organizer into a wall garden.
Next>> Hanging Gardens
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by mannewaar
Short on wall space? Don’t fret! You can grow some food by hanging your plants right from the ceiling! Most home improvement or gardening stores stock hanging planters, and these are a great option for growing some larger indoor food plants. I’m also really smitten with this Japanese string garden. You could try it out with herbs instead of ornamentals! Plants that would do well in a hanging planter include:
- Cherry tomatoes
- Hot peppers
- Any sort of herb
- Dark, leafy greens
If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can also grow quite a few plants in an upside-down planter. Sure, we’ve all seen the infomercial for the Upside Down Tomato Planter, but beans, strawberries, and other vines also do well upside down.
Next>> Window Boxes
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by lovelihood
If you want to maximize space even more, you can hang window boxes with cold weather plants this fall and winter. Just make sure that the box is very secure, so you don’t lose any plants, and choose hearty plants that do well in cold, since your plants are going to all be outside. Some smaller plants that work outdoors are:
- Bok choy
Since window boxes are totally exposed to the elements, you’ll need to keep a closer eye on the weather. When it’s going to frost, cover your window box with a towel or tarp if you can’t bring it inside. It’s also important to choose a window that gets a good amount of sunlight and that’s easy for you to access, so that you can water, feed, and harvest your plants.
Have you guys done any winter container gardening? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments!
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Muffet