Gardening space is often at a premium If you live in an apartment, condo, or townhouse. But if you’re itching to scratch your green thumb, here’s a few ideas to get you started.
The easiest ways to get started with growing plants in small spaces is container gardening. If traditional clay or plastic planters aren’t your thing, think outside the pot and look around your home for alternatives. If the planter is big enough to hold soil and permits adequate drainage – by punching or drilling holes – then you’re ready to grow.
Be mindful to select the right size pot for your garden. Don’t go too small or you run the risk of inhibiting root growth as well as creating a challenge to keep the container hydrated.
If you don’t see a planter idea around your home, check out yard sales, thrift shops, or a neighborhood message board. But don’t use anything that once held toxic chemicals or is rusted and be sure to wash the container before you plant.
If you want to use a wooden planter, consider treating it with a clear waterproof latex sealer to extend the life and durability of the container.
Some container suggestions: Milk crates, bottles, jars, fish tanks, old toolboxes, glassware, coffee mugs, pallets, or even one of those shoe organizers you hang on a door. The latter happens to be perfect for growing herbs.
For something a bit bigger – to grow lettuce, kale, spinach, and other greens – try recycling an old desk or dresser to create raised beds. One of the easiest and most efficient ways to garden in a small space, like on a balcony or patio, is to find an old shipping pallet and flip it vertically to create growing shelves.
Now that you’ve got your containers, here’s a few tips from Pike Nurseries (pikenursery.com) on how to actually grow a small garden.
Sun: The most important rule of green thumb for beginning a container garden is to group plants together based on their sun requirements. Gardeners should get acquainted with their space to determine lighting – ranging from full sun with more than six hours, partial sun or shade with three to six hours to full shade with less than three hours of sunlight – before choosing their container garden plants.
Soil: Fill a pot with potting and container soil that contains fertilizer and wetting agents to prevent pots from drying out too quickly. A helpful tip is to place a coffee filter at the bottom of the container near the hole to keep soil from spilling but still allowing proper drainage. Leave two to three inches at the top to mix in a fertilizer like Dr. Earth Root Zone – a nutrient-packed organic fertilizer that reduces transplant shock and helps establish roots. Fill in areas around the plants with more potting soil.
Water: Gardeners also want to plant species with similar water needs, ensuring no under- or overwatering takes place. Container gardens should be watered two to three times a week, increasing this to seven times a week when temperatures are at their hottest. Container gardens require more attention, so use the touch test to determine water needs; if the top one to two inches of the soil feels dry to the touch, water deeply until it begins to drain out of the bottom. Be sure to rid of access water in the saucer to prevent rotted roots. Water globes and water-absorbing granules are useful tools to ensure plants receive enough water.
Fertilize: Fertilize containers every four weeks with a blend of natural and organic compounds in Dr. Earth Annual Bloom to keep annuals thriving or every three months with Osmocote Outdoor & Indoor Plant Food that controls nutritional release.
All that’s left is to decide what to grow in your small garden. Although we’re in the middle of the summer, there’s still plenty to plant, according to the Georgia Cooperative Extension Service (extension.uga.edu).
Some suggestions: Cauliflower, pole and lima beans, butterpeas, cucumbers, eggplan, okra, bell pepper, and some varieties of tomato can be planted in July. For flowers, try marigold, cosmos, cleome, and dwarf sunflowers.