Modern homes are becoming smaller and smaller and many people are choosing apartments over free standing homes. This usually means sacrificing on space, particularly in your outdoor and garden areas. Fortunately, you don’t need a lot of space to grow your own veggies, herbs and plants. You don’t even really need a garden at all. Small space gardening is an increasing trend and there are a wide range of plants and veggies which have been specifically developed to be grown in confined spaces and containers.
Choosing Your Garden Type
The first step in starting with small space gardening is deciding what type of garden you’d like to create. There are typically three main types of small space garden:
- A small garden bed.
- A garden bed is the largest of the small space gardening options and is suited to those who have a small outdoor section to their home which includes some lawn, a paved section or an existing small garden bed. The area doesn’t need to be particularly big, a 2m x 1m (6′ x 3′) or even a 1m x 1m (3′ x 3′) section of garden bed is more than adequate to grow your own plants and veggies in.
- A garden box or large planter.
- For those who don’t have a garden or outdoor area as such, but still have some form of balcony or patio, you may want to consider getting a garden box or planter. This is essentially a wooden or plastic container designed to be filled with soil to create a free standing garden bed. You’ll want to give some thought to the type and positioning of the planter as they can be heavy to move around once filled and often require water runoff for their drainage holes.
- Individual containers.
- The final and most compact solution is best suited for those with a really small patio or balcony or those who need an indoor solution. This option involves setting up a shelf, desk or bench with a container or multiple containers in which to grow your plants and veggies. You can even get free standing trays or indoor grow houses which are specifically designed to hold potted herbs and veggies and manage water runoff/drainage.
The next consideration is where to place your small space garden. If you’re using individual containers or a garden box, then you’ll have some choice in where it can be placed. You may be a bit more limited if you have a fixed garden bed. Either way, you’ll need to either decide where to place your garden in order to grow certain types of plants or veggies or decide on which types of plants or veggies can be grown given a certain placement.
The following aspects will determine where or what can be grown:
- Herbs and veggies typically require a lot of sunlight, often at least 6 hours a day. Some plant varieties require much less and can cope with being in low light indoor areas. Just because you don’t have a sunny spot, doesn’t mean you can’t grow veggies, some varieties of lettuce, broccoli and kale can survive in limited light conditions.
- Water Access
- Herbs and vegetables also require regular watering and smaller gardening areas are more sensitive to watering frequency as they have less capacity for water storage. Drip irrigation systems are a popular choice for small space gardening as they are quite clean and deliver water directly to the plants roots rather than spraying the leaves and top soil. It’s also easy to add nutrients to the water in drip irrigation systems.
- While you can grow veggies almost anywhere with the right equipment, you can’t grow any type of veggie anywhere. You’ll need to be realistic in your expectations with regards to the size and quantity of your herbs, veggies and plants. You won’t be able to grow a tomato vine, pumpkins or a row of corn in your apartment. You’ll need to select plants which are specifically cultured to grow in small spaces, especially if you’re using smaller grow containers indoors. Most packets of seeds or seedlings will give you some information on the size of the full grown plant as well as its water and sunlight requirements.
- Soil Type
- The final consideration, and one of the easiest to control, is the soil type. Once you’ve decided on what type of plants you’d like to grow, you’ll need to get the correct soil for them. Soil is an important part of growing herbs and vegetables as it contains important nutrients and can affect the taste of the final produce. This is one of the reasons why fruit tastes different in different regions (think of wines).
Succession Planting Is Key For Small Space Gardening
Succession planting is a great technique for small space gardening whereby new seeds or seedlings are planted every few weeks in limited quantities throughout the growing season. This way you stagger the ripening or fruit bearing stage so that you’ve always got just enough produce at just the right time for your family to consume.
There is no point in planting a bed of lettuce when you know that your family won’t be able to consume the 50 heads of lettuce which are finally produced in a two week period before they spoil. So rather stagger the planting phase such that your garden produces a head or two a week for three to four months and you’ll get much better value out of your garden.
Don’t Discount The Windowsill
Growing veggies, and particularly herbs, indoors on a windowsill is a fantastically easy and low cost option for plants which are frequently harvested. It’s a really easy option for beginners and putting the herbs in a prominent place in your kitchen not only looks attractive but also means that they’re less likely to be forgotten and left unwatered. You can even build your own cheap windowsill greenhouse so you don’t have to worry too much about watering them at all.
So what are you waiting for? Get started with small space gardening today and you could have your own home grown produce in just a few weeks. Let us know your tips and tricks for your small space veggies or herbs in the comments section below.