If you’re itching to get your hands in the dirt, don’t let a lack of space keep you from gardening. There are lots of ways to cultivate a garden in very little space.
If you have any green space at all consider turning a small corner of it into garden. Even a single square foot can be enough room to plant flowers or start a herb garden. If all you have is a balcony or a windowsill then it’s time to think container gardening. All sorts of plants can be grown in containers.
Think about what you’d like to grow. Do you want flowers for color? Vegetables for the table or herbs to cook with? If you’re working with a windowsill, herbs are a great choice. They thrive in small spaces and are very hard to kill. Ornamental grasses can also add a lovely touch of green to any room.
Find the light
Take note of where the sun is on your deck or windowsill and what time of day it is there. Plants all differ on the amount of sun they require. Too much sun and your plant will wither, not enough sun and it will rot. Don’t worry about the type of light you have – there are plants that thrive in almost any lighting conditions.
When you get the greenhouse, light requirement will be clearly marked on each plant’s label. (Most growers use a color system – yellow for full sun, orange for part sun and purple for shade.) If you’re unsure, as a salesperson. No amount of water or loving care can make-up for putting a plant in the wrong light.
When choosing your plants, remember: if they’re all going in the same container, they all need to have the same light requirements. Sometimes you can cheat this if you have a smaller shade plant protected by a larger full sun plant, but if you’re just starting out, keep them all the same. Trust me, you’ll be much happier with the results.
Choose your container
Remember that the plants are going to grow (hopefully) so it’s best to choose the largest container that fits your space and your purposes. If you’re planting herbs, a container with multiple openings can give you room for a whole herb garden in less than a foot of space.
Look for a container that has holes in the bottom for drainage. If you want to use a vintage pot that doesn’t have holes, hide a smaller plastic container with holes inside it. The soil must be able to drain or the plants will get moldy.
Don’t forget to look up
If space is really at a premium, consider a hanging garden. Hanging baskets of all varieties are available at your local greenhouse. Like plants sold individually, hanging baskets will be labeled for their light conditions. If you don’t see a label, ask. You can grow flowers in a hanging basket but you can also grow some special varieties of tomatoes that way as well. If you’re going to put herbs in your hanging basket, make sure you hang the basket low enough to be able to harvest them.
What to grow
If you want to eat from your small garden, try growing cherry tomatoes. You’ll get a lot more fruit per square foot from these smaller tomatoes than you will from a larger variety like beefsteak. Salad greens also flourish in small spaces, just be sure to harvest regularly. If your lettuces get too tall the leaves will turn bitter.
If you want a flower garden, Geraniums add a lot of color to full sun gardens. If you have a shaded area look for Impatiens, a lovely little flower that comes in a huge range of colors. If you want something very low maintenance, non-flowering plants like Coleus or Dusty Miller will thrive all summer, all you have to do is water them.
For a basic herb garden try planting rosemary, oregano, chives, cilantro and lavender. Basil is another popular choice, but I’ve always found it grows better in a pot indoors. With this you’ll have all you need for fresh salsa all summer and a perfect steak marinade (see recipe below).
It doesn’t take a lot of space, or a lot of time, to turn a forgotten corner into a garden. What will you grow this year?
Perfectly Simple Summer Steak Marinade
You will need:
• a few spears of rosemary
• a small handful of fresh oregano
• a clove or two of garlic
• ¼ C extra virgin olive oil
• salt and pepper to season
• a large zip close bag
To create a marinade for that perfect summer steak, about an hour before you want to grill grab a few spears of rosemary and a small handful of oregano from the garden. Chop it up along with a clove of garlic and add it to about a quarter cup of olive oil. Season the steaks with salt and pepper and pierce the meat in a few places.
Pour the marinade into a large zip close bag and add the steaks. Seal the bag (removing the air) and rub the marinade in to the steaks. Let sit in the fridge for an hour. Fire up the grill and get ready to remember what summer tastes like.
More ways to grow:
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