When I talked about my garden recently over on my Facebook page a friend mentioned that she wished she had the space to grow her own food. That’s not the first time I’d heard someone say they wanted to grow food but didn’t have any room to do it, but you can actually have a garden even in the smallest space!
Sure, it’s a lot easier to grow food if you have a backyard. Whether you plant in the ground, build a raised bed, or go for containers, a big yard means you can spread out and get pretty luxurious. If you’re working with a smaller space – say a balcony or even a sunny window – you just have to get more creative about the plants, the layout, and the containers you use.
Choosing the Right Plants
The upside to growing food on a balcony or indoors is that you’re not as much of a slave to the seasons. You can move balcony plants that hate the cold or extreme heat inside when temperatures are less than ideal, and if you’re growing all of your food indoors you can really say weather, schmeather!
The trick is all in choosing the right plants. You want things that don’t need a lot of space to grow and that do well in indirect sunlight or partial shade. A good garden center can help, but here are a few food plants that do well indoors to get you started:
- salad greens
- citrus – think satsumas or Meyer lemons
- peppers – hot or sweet
- green beans
Hit your local garden center and see what’s available. To choose the right sized pot, a good rule is to pick one that’s as wide across as whatever the spacing guidelines say. So, if the plant tag says to space them 12″ apart, you want a 12″ pot.
Maximizing a Small Space
If you’re living in a small apartment, chances are horizontal space is at a premium, so go vertical instead! You can hang planters from the ceiling or up walls to make the most of a tiny space. Check out this vertical garden made from an IKEA utensil container of all things!
I think this particular container is discontinued, but you can look for similar vertical solutions to plant more in less space.
Choosing the Right Container for Your Small Space Garden
Once you have your configuration sorted, you just want to make sure your pots have proper drainage and that the excess water has somewhere to drain to.
For a vertical garden like the one above, the excess water from each plant will drain to the one below, and you’d want some kind of tray underneath to collect any runoff. It doesn’t look like they drained holes in their pots, but it’s a good idea to do that. If you can’t, you’ll want to fill your pots halfway with rocks before planting and be very careful about overwatering so you don’t drown them.
You can take the easy route and buy your containers at the garden center, but you can also make your own from reclaimed materials. That tin can succulent planter tutorial that I shared on Monday would work well for herbs or nasturtiums, for example. You can also hit the thrift store for fun containers like old buckets, pots, and pans. Just drill drainage holes in them and you’re ready to plant!
Are any of you guys growing food indoors? I’d love to hear about it!
Image Credits: Lemon tree photo by Becky Striepe; Vertical Garden Creative Commons photo by mannewaar