For many years I lived in the country with an almost unlimited space for a garden. I grew bushels of vegetables for canning or freezing. That was really great, but now I’m living in a small town with an average-sized yard so that’s just not an option.
Luckily, we don’t have to have a mile of land to enjoy homegrown vegetables and herbs.
When you enjoy your first homegrown tomato with a little fresh basil from your herb garden, not only will you burst with pride, but your body will love you for feeding it something fresh and homegrown.
Here are a few steps to help you decide which type of small space gardening is for you:
Pick Your Planters
The first step in getting your little garden started is to decide what kind of space you have available:
Raised Bed Garden – If you do have a yard raised beds are a good option. There are many ways to build a raised bed garden using all sorts of different materials. Decide what your budget is and then visit your local home and garden center. If you are handy with tools, you may want to build a raised bed. The internet has many easy-to-follow instructions on how to do just that. If that still seems too daunting, you can buy a raised-bed garden kit that comes with everything you need to quickly set up your garden area.
Container Garden – If raised-bed gardening seems like too much of a commitment or you simply don’t have that kind of space to work with, container gardening may be the way to go. With this type of gardening you are not only growing your vegetables, but you can use your containers as patio decor as well. There are many different styles and materials to choose from when it comes to pots.
Your container selection will depend on the types of vegetables you decide to grow. Vegetables with shallow roots like lettuce, radishes, and herbs can grow in as little as 8-inches of soil depth but prefer 12 to 18 inches. More productive plants, such as tomatoes, bush beans, and squash, need deeper and larger pots. To have productive tomatoes, get the deepest and largest pot you can afford and have space for. Tomatoes are deep rooting and the roots go two feet deep.
Make sure the containers you choose have adequate drainage holes. If there aren’t any, drill a few holes in the bottom of the pot before adding soil. When I am getting a container ready for a planting, I always use a few paper coffee filters to cover the holes at the bottom. This ensures that no soil will leak out of the bottom when the pot is moved or the plants get watered. You can also put a shallow layer of gravel on the bottom of the pot before adding soil.
Container gardens are also picky with the type of soil they use. When choosing a potting mix for container gardening, go for a mix made specifically for container gardening so the plants will have healthy roots. Ask at your local nursery for direction in choosing the right soil mix.
Choose Your Foods
First, plant things that you will actually eat. It does you no good to grow eggplant when no one in your family will eat it! If you aren’t sure what to grow, start with a few basics like tomatoes and some herbs. Lettuces are easy to grow and will give you multiple cuttings from just one plant. Have fun looking at all the seed packets and vegetable plants at your local nursery and then choose based on what grows well in your area during that season of the year. Nursery personnel usually have excellent advice.
Remember, if you are a beginner, start with just a few varieties of vegetables. It’s easier to learn about a few varieties and how to plant, water, fertilize, and harvest them rather than trying to manage 10 different vegetables all at once. You can always go bigger next time.
Follow the planting guide for your seeds and plants found on the package. The information on the package will also give you a rough estimate of how often to water and fertilize, and how long until your vegetables can be harvested. I strongly recommend using only organic fertilizer.
Harvest and Enjoy
After all your hard work, you will eventually get to enjoy the fruits of your labor (quite literally). It’s so enjoyable to bite into a tomato that you’ve grown yourself. And cooking with your own fresh herbs enhances your foods so much. You’ll be hooked on gardening!
Kim is a natural health enthusiast, herbalist and avid organic gardener who has completed two programs in herbology. As a Holisticate, she shares insights, wisdom and recipes from her journey toward wholeness to inspire and empower others to live a holistic and balanced life. Connect with Kim on Facebook.
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