You’re not always going to be able to live at a house that has land for you to establish your vegetable garden presence. So sometimes you just have to get creative, and use whatever space you can. Although I do have space for a vegetable garden, I do also have my patio/kitchen garden that I love.
I love it because I can look at it all the time if I want. I can easily pop out and get some vegetables, pick a couple of herbs to add to dinner, or even just easily water and tend it (as my main veggie garden is up a little hill). There is something so beautiful and creative about turning any little space you have into a garden.
Have you heard of Guerilla Gardening? Google it. But basically, do it to your own place.
And I have some handy little tips to help you turn whatever dull, small, empty space into a thriving GARDEN.
Try to get some sunshine, (or light and warmth) onto your precious babies. This will help them to be the plants you dream they could be. Without getting technical, pretty much all plants need some light and warmth, so if you don’t have the real stuff, then fake it some how!
Use whatever you can to plant in. This isn’t really a tip, but I’m pretty much saying, you can make everything uniform in matching pots (very pretty), or you can mix and match whatever you have and whatever you can AFFORD. You may have heard the fancy term “repurposing”. Its very fashionable and you can do it! I use mixes of old planter boxes, big plastic pots, little pots that some seedlings came in, as well as glass jars, little buckets, empty soup cans. You name it. If you can put soil in it, you can grow something in it. Go wild. And have fun. Just make sure there is some drainage (holes in the bottom).
Nourish your plants. As you will be planting in boxes or pots, your plants don’t have the opportunity to gather nutrients from the surrounding soil as much as their counterparts out in the big wide world of the ground. This nourishment factor is so easy to over look, as we are so used to house plants, that you just water and leave, then water every so often. But your vegetables need your love. When you are planting your plants, use a really good quality organic soil or compost. As this will be the foundation for your plants long and healthy life. And make sure that they are being watered adequately, as often water can drain straight out the bottom of the plant, and not reach all the soil it needs to. And this leads to the next tip…
Feed your plants! Plant food, compost, whatever you want! BUT JUST FEED YOUR PLANTS! There isn’t a lot of soil in those pots, and the plants need a lot of nutrients to grow! I like to use and organic (liquid) plant food, that I treat my plants to every one or two weeks depending on how well they are growing, or what they are (heavy fruiting plants need more than leafy plants). I grow strawberries on my patio, and I make sure that they get strawberry food (its a real thing!), as this helps them to grow, even in the small pots.
Plant things that you wouldn’t plant in your big garden. For example, in my kitchen garden, I grow wheatgrass, because it works better in a tray, and its good for it to be nice and easy on hand. Get creative and think outside the (planter) box.
Plant “cut and come again” plants. These are plants that you literally take a couple of leaves off, and then you can come back to them again later and take a few more leaves off. You don’t have to harvest the whole thing at once. In my small garden, I like to plant lettuces, spinach, kale and swiss chard, as they are fast growing, but they are also very handy and useful plants in terms of eating.
Have a few flowers in your small potted garden. Having some flowers will help to attract the good bugs, and may even help to keep the bad ones away (depending on what you plant). It is very important to make sure that your little garden (or big) is getting pollinated, and if no bees do it, make sure that you do it for the plant (depending on what plant it is!) because that is important in the growing stage for some plants!
Move your plants around. For two reasons. The first reason is to create companion planting. Putting some plants next to others is a good thing (for example tomatoes and basil), they enhance one anothers flavour while growing, whereas putting tomato and cabbage next to one another is bad and stunts growth. So move those babies around to get the best possible growing happening. Secondly, move them around to get the best sunshine for the plant. If you are like me, your planting area isn’t in the sun all the time, so move those babies around a couple of days a week so that they can soak up some nice rays. They will thank you for it in beautiful vegetables.
Start small, and increase. You don’t need to have 50 pots of varying varieties of vegetables the first day of your garden. I started with two pots, and slowly but surely I kept adding and collecting, and now I have many random containers, and some random plants. If you start small, its easier for you to manage, and make sure that those vegetables are getting the love they deserve. Add a few more to your collection every couple of weeks or so. This leads to the final tip…
You can increase the container size if you want. Say you planted a tomato plant in a small pot, but now it seems that it is just getting too big for that pot, well never fear, buy a slightly bigger (or much bigger if you are super keen) container, and just move your little friend into a bigger home. Plants will only grow until their roots can’t grow no more, so the bigger the space for roots, the bigger your plant will be. And once you’ve moved that plant into a bigger container, you have a spare container to start something else in. Its like the circle of life. Only different.
But most importantly HAVE FUN!! And remember, you are only limited by your imagination, so get out there are get creating your own little piece of vegetable paradise.