The imagination is the limit when it comes to gardening. If you don’t have space for a conventional garden, don’t fret. There are other ways to grow a bountiful harvest of your favorite vegetables and fruits such as strawberries.
One method of gardening is to use containers. Clay and plastic pots, planter boxes, buckets, ceramic pots, wooden or plastic barrels and wire baskets lined with sphagnum moss can be used. If a container will hold enough soil to promote healthy plant growth, use it unless it has been used to store toxic and hazardous substances. Never use a container if you are unsure what was in it before you got it.
Raised Bed Gardening
Raised beds are an ideal means of growing things in small spaces. With this type of gardening, the soil is loosened, fed with rich organic matter and mounded and contained within frames that can be made from wood, bricks, blocks and many other materials.
The concept behind raised gardening is that plants grow better in loose, fertile soil. It saves both time and money because you plant and weed what is inside the frames. You don’t apply fertilizers to the area between the beds. Weeding is usually minimal with raised bed gardening.
Square Foot Gardening
Square foot gardening can be applied to any garden, but it works extremely well with raised bed gardening. In this method, you plant crops in one-foot squares in order to minimize weeding and maintenance. The plants grow closer together than they do when planted in rows and this means that the ground is shaded, making it harder for weeds to take over.
In recent years, there has been a trend toward planting vegetable plants in upside down containers, which are commercially available. However, you can make your own using buckets with a hole cut in the bottom or wire baskets lined with sphagnum moss. Use wire baskets only where you have access to a lot of water because they do tend to dry out more quickly than the other types of containers.
Upside Down Vegetable Growing
When planting vegetables in an upside down container, you are truly planting the plants upside down. The roots, facing skyward, are gently inserted into the bottom of the hanging planter. You can doubly utilize the containers by planting vegetables such as radishes, watercress and lettuce in the top of the pots. Tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, eggplants and peppers work very well in upside down planters.
Container Gardening Tips
No matter which gardening method you choose, there are some rules that apply. It is important to have good soil drainage to promote healthy root and plant growth. Keep in mind that porous containers such as those made from unglazed clay or terra cotta loose moisture faster than plastics, metals and glazed ceramics. You may have to poke several holes in the bottom of a container or pot to allow for proper drainage.
Think ahead when you choose your containers. If you live in a climate that has a short growing season, you may have to move pots indoors or to a protected area. Remember, soil and water weigh a lot!
Want to learn more about container gardening?
Container Gardens by Colorado State University Extension Service
Container Gardening by Oregon State University Extension Service
Container Gardening Tips is a site that’s completely dedicated to the subject of container gardening.
Life on the Balcony is a blog that’s all about small space gardening for apartment and condo dwellers.