Monday, May 23, 2011

Container Gardening for Small Spaces

Our apartment balcony garden!
L to R: lettuce, thyme, parsley, basil, strawberries, tomato (x2), cucumber, oregano, sage, mini rose, onions.
Miniature Rose
       When we began looking for our current home, I had one request in particular- an outdoor escape. The last two places only had a front door which opened into the interior of the buildings. After two years in these apartments, I was desperate for a balcony space. We got lucky in that we were able to choose our unit. It was from selection of two available units, and the choice was simple in that I went for the one with the most sunlight for growing some plants.
      For me, sitting outside and feel the warm sunshine and listen to the birds sing does tremendous for morale in apartment living. I laugh to think of my once dream of being surrounded by concrete when I left my small hometown and headed for a big city for college. I quickly discovered that the small, simple spaces in life was much more of a happy place for me than the big, busy city. I've even taken quite the interest in gardening. Now my dream is to have a yard of flower beds and vegetable gardens!
Oregano & Sage
     I'm not in a space with a yard yet, but I can certainly make the most of my current outdoor space.  Plants do so much to liven a space! I've throughly enjoyed watching the seedlings sprout and take off in their growth. It seems like my husband and I have a daily comment or conversation delightfully remarking on how much one plant or antoher has grown overnight. We've also throughly enjoyed the fresh lettuce for sandwiches or salads. Oh, and the strawberries are unbelievably good! I'm excited to taste the tomatoes and cucumbers right off the vines.
     Gardening is a fantastic way to save money. You have the upfront cost of the pots and soil, but they can be used over and over. Seed packets are inexpensive and therefore aren't too much of a concern to replace each year (plus you can get organics!).  It's also cheaper than a grocery in that you can avoid the costs and contamination of industrial farming, shipping and packaging. In a nutshell, you don't have to spend at the grocery for an inferiorly ripened produce when you can step outside your back door and pick it yourself. (This is the essence of my financial ideas- it isn't a matter of bringing in more income, but being wiser with what you have.)
     Furthermore, fresh picked produce tastes so much better. What isn't used during the growing season can be frozen or canned for later enjoyment. We're hoping to get enough tomatoes from our plants and perhaps local farmers markets as well to can some whole and some as marinara sauce for later use. Even if you can't grow plants in your space, farmers markets are another great way to eat healthy, save money, and support the local community. Learn to can and you can eat the summer harvet throughout the winter.
       I don't know a tremendous amount about gardening, but I do know that not everything can grow in pots. A little research is needed on the individual requirements for a plant. I tried to find some resources on container gardening to add, but I surprisingly didn't find much for growing vegetables.(And although the
y are flower pots, probably shouldn't look up "how to pot garden" hehe ;-) Sorry, too easy ). I did find an excellent website: which includes the types of plants, the containers needed, and the basics of growing them. It also includes some creative ideas such as using an old cake pan to grow onions or herbs.

Anyone have some resources or tips to recommend on small space gardening tips?

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