Many people who live in urban areas wonder whether it’s possible to start a vegetable garden and grow their own food. I’m here to tell you that it’s definitely possible to grow your own delicious fresh produce even if you don’t have a lot of space. In fact, small space vegetable gardening is easier than you think.
For example, you might be living in an apartment or you only have a small outdoor courtyard. As long as you have some outdoor space like a balcony or a courtyard, you can definitely grow your own vegetables. Even if you don’t have any outdoor space, there are now a variety of gardening kits available that allow you to grow vegetables and herbs indoors using grow lights.
What we’re going to discuss is how you can best maximise the space that you have by growing in containers and selecting a vast range of vegetables and herbs that can be grown in small spaces. So, let’s dig right in.
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Take A Look At The Space You Have Available
Before you head out and arm yourself with pots and seeds or seedlings, have a look at the amount of space you have available. For example, how many large pots can you comfortably accommodate, or would you be better off purchasing a vertical stand that will allow you to have multiple smaller pots in a tiered display?
There are so many different options when it comes to gardening in small spaces. It’s just a case of using the space that you have as effectively as possible. That’s precisely why vertical gardening has become so popular as it allows you to use more space more efficiently.
You also want to consider things like balcony pots that you can hang over the railing if you have a balcony or even hanging pots if you have a way that you can attach these securely.
The other thing you really want to consider is how much sunlight your available space gets. There are vegetable varieties that grow best when given 6 to 8 hours of sun daily but others that will happily grow in a more shaded location.
Lastly, you want to think about how you’re going to water your urban vegetable garden. With this, you have a variety of options. If you have a small courtyard space, there may be an outdoor tap that you can connect an automatic watering system to.
You also want to consider the type of plants that you can grow with respect to their growth habit and how much space they will take up.
Choose Containers That Are Suited To Small Space Vegetable Gardening
Obviously, you select your containers carefully. Firstly, you want to ensure that you have containers that will fit easily but also those that are suited to the plants that you want to grow.
You might even find that you have to move your containers around during the day to catch the most sunlight or you might only have to do this at certain times of the year. If this is the case, you either want to select lightweight containers that are not too heavy even if they’re filled with potting mix or use stands with wheels that you can easily move around.
Another important aspect to consider is that the pots you select must have good drainage holes. This can pose another problem, especially if you’re gardening on a balcony.
When you water your plants, you’ll often have excess water coming out of the drainage holes. Obviously, you don’t want that excess water to drain down onto your neighbour’s balcony. Therefore, you’ll need to place saucers under your pots or find another way to easily collect the water.
Vertical gardening systems that have their own watering systems can be good for this because they will often reticulate the water back up to the top rather than letting it drain away.
You can do something similar by having hanging pots directly above floor-based pots so that any excess water from the hanging pots can drain down into the pots below.
Select Plants That Are Suited To Your Space
If you’re limited to gardening on a balcony, you want to stick with plants that don’t grow too large. Many different types of herbs are good for this as are leafy greens like lettuce, swiss chard, spinach, and kale.
Additionally, many root crops such as carrots, beets, onions, leeks, and garlic are great for growing in deep pots as the tops of these plants are all fairly compact. However, don’t avoid plants like tomatoes or cucumbers as you can get more compact varieties. Plus, you can use climbing structures to grow these more vertically.
Even fruits such as strawberries can be successfully grown in hanging pots or tiered containers. Plus, you can get a variety of dwarf fruit trees that will happily thrive in large containers. Grow bags are great for growing things like potatoes but you need to ensure that you can collect any excess water as the better grow bags are porous.
Of course, you might need to avoid plants such as pumpkins because they do take up a lot of space. I’ve got a self-seeded pumpkin plant in my garden at the moment and it is sending out vines in all directions. While I’m excited about this, I’m glad I’ve got the space to accommodate these.
So, when you’re selecting seedlings at your local garden centre, have a good look at the label to see exactly how tall the plant will get and how far it will spread.
Maximise The Space You Have Available
When you look at your available space, try to think about how you can maximise this. For example, can you use some vertical planters to get a greater growing area? Or, can you accommodate tiered plant stands that can accommodate pots of different sizes.
I’ve written quite a few articles about vertical gardening that you might find useful. Mostly, these talk about different planters and planting systems and also the use of trellises to grow your crops vertically.
How To Care For Your Small-Space Vegetable Garden
Once you’ve got your garden set up, you need to know how to care for it. Generally, vegetables need two things – water and fertiliser. However, since you’re growing in pots, I’m assuming that you’re going to use a premium potting mix.
Premium growing mixes are already fortified with fertiliser. For most types of vegetables, this should be adequate for their short growing season. However, if you’re going to grow perennial vegetables like asparagus and fruits like strawberries, you’ll need to add additional fertiliser.
I find that slow-release fertilisers designed for edible plants are one of the easiest ways to keep plants in pots well-fed. Generally, you only have to replenish these fertilisers once every 3 months when growing vegetables and fruits.
The other important thing you’ll have to consider is how you’re going to keep your plants watered. Most vegetables don’t like to dry out so they’ll need supplementary watering if they don’t have access to rain.
Now, you can choose to water your plants manually using a watering can and this is often the easiest, However, it can take up some time. It’s also not the best option if you’re going to be away for a few days.
Luckily, there are plenty of automatic watering options available. Even if there is no water tap available near where your plants will be growing. Most of these options take their inspiration from hydroponics. They use gravity feed to get the water from a reservoir to each pot. Then, all you have to worry about is keeping the reservoir filled.
If you want a little more in-depth explanation of how to use hydroponic systems and incorporate this into a vertical grow system, I just came across an article that discusses this in more detail. This is another area of vegetable gardening that I haven’t ventured into just yet, although I do have a fair amount of knowledge of the different systems and how they work.
Enjoy The Harvest From Your Small Space Vegetable Garden
Growing vegetables in small spaces isn’t that difficult once you have the basics organised. Then, it’s just a case of watching your crops grow and harvest when they are ready.
When you get to this stage, you’ll understand how worthwhile it is to grow some of your own food. There’s nothing more rewarding than going out to your vegetable garden and picking a few things for dinner.
Not only will these home-grown vegetable taste absolutely amazing but they’re also so much healthier for you and your family.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best vegetables to grow in small spaces?
Leafy greens are perfect as are herbs of all types. Roots crops are also perfect for growing in pots in small spaces.
How much sunlight do my plants need?
Most vegetables require around 6 to 8 hours of sunlight daily. However, leafy green vegetables and many different root crops can thrive with less than this as long as they get some sun every day.
Can I grow vegetables indoors?
It is certainly possible to grow vegetables indoors if you invest in a grow light.
How do I deal with pests in my small-space garden?
If you’re growing in pots on a balcony, you will find that you won’t have too many pest problems. If you do come across a problem, recommended control measures will be different depending on what the pest is.
How often should I water my plants in containers?
This will depend on the weather and whether rain is able to water your plants. As a general guide, crops grown throughout summer may need to be watered once or twice a day. The best way to determine if your pots need water is to test the top inch of soil. If this is dry, your pots will need water.
Now you know how easy it is to create a vegetable garden even if you have limited space. You just need to carefully look at the space you have and try to maximise it by using different types of pots and planting systems.
You also want to select plants that don’t need a huge area to grow successfully. I hope you’ve found this useful and enjoy growing lovely fresh produce at home.