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Small Space Gardening 2012

post #1 of 60
Thread Starter 

Containers, indoors, raised beds, urban lots - if you're in a small space, you're in the right spot. Let's not waste time, friends - let's talk about small space gardening for this year!

 

So far I've got a lot of catalogs to review. I need to inventory my container situation against what I want to plant and draw up a plan. I hope to work on that tomorrow. I've also got a few seed trades going to get ready for the mail.

 

There are a few things we're overwintering - our bay tree, a thyme and an oregano. We had a few other things but they didn't make it this far. I'm hoping these last three will make it through until spring. Tomorrow I'm going to start some scallions so we can have a little fresh green veg to eat.

 

What's everyone else up to thus far?

 

post #2 of 60

Hello!  I am mostly planning things out for the spring as well, though there's a bit in the ground for the winter.

 

We have 3 raised beds plus a little herb garden, and though we have a decent amount of yard, we now have beds or containers in just about every spot that gets enough sunlight.  I have mustard greens and kale in one of the raised beds, but all my plants are still on the small side and I'm not sure whether or not they will make it to production-size now that the frosts are getting more frequent. Sigh.  Next year I will plant them earlier.

 

We have a few yellow onions that seem to be growing just fine - is it ok to use some of the tops like scallions or does it hurt the developing bulb?  I am such a newb gardener...I have no idea.

 

There are also leeks and shallots that a lady at the farmer's market instructed me to just put in the ground and leave alone, so that's what I'm doing...they all seem to be slowly but steadily growing.  I planted some garlic on the Solstice, but I gather that's way late for around here, so we'll see in the spring if that was more of a ritual or more of a gardening move.

post #3 of 60

Nothing so far - I want to do square foot gardening and have the book, but have not yet been able to scavenge materials to make the beds or be able to afford the proper soil mix {our soil is really really bad here}.

 

I am studying the book though, and have my plans laid out with what I'd like to grow and when. 

 

I am contemplating starting worm composting to build my own soil for the beds in a cost saving measure - we do make a lot of compostables which could be slowly turned into soil. 

post #4 of 60
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rudhaen View Post

We have a few yellow onions that seem to be growing just fine - is it ok to use some of the tops like scallions or does it hurt the developing bulb?  I am such a newb gardener...I have no idea.


I'm not entirely sure, but I wouldn't think you would want to. If you remove too many of them the plant won't be able to photosynthesize as well, which is one of the ways the plant gets the energy to grow the bulb.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by frugalmama View Post
are

Nothing so far - I want to do square foot gardening and have the book, but have not yet been able to scavenge materials to make the beds or be able to afford the proper soil mix {our soil is really really bad here}.

 

I am studying the book though, and have my plans laid out with what I'd like to grow and when. 

 

I am contemplating starting worm composting to build my own soil for the beds in a cost saving measure - we do make a lot of compostables which could be slowly turned into soil. 


You could start raised beds without building boxes around them, provided you aren't growing on a slope where you'd have to contend with your soil washing away. You could lay out the beds with a simple string line. You should check Craigslist or Freecycle too - I've even seen compost/soil on those sites, for free/cheap. 

 

post #5 of 60
I'm starting to think about what we'll be planting. We're on a suburban lot, with limited room for gardening. We have two raised beds, a narrow bed along the house, and also extended the rose bed to allow for planting in front of the roses. I've also got a lime and lemon tree in pots. (Those are currently nestled against the house and under the porch to keep warm.) We managed a LOT last year, and somehow squeezed in 16 tomato plants, plus things like peppers, corn, squash, herbs, etc. I kind of like the challenge to see how much I can produce in the limited space we have.
post #6 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by kitchensqueen View Post


I'm not entirely sure, but I wouldn't think you would want to. If you remove too many of them the plant won't be able to photosynthesize as well, which is one of the ways the plant gets the energy to grow the bulb.

 

 

 

Thanks--that's the answer I got when I asked my sister-in-law who is a farmer. I'm a little embarrassed to ask so many dumb questions! whistling.gif However, gardening does not come naturally to me, so I sometimes have to ask about the random thoughts that occur to me so that I don't do anything stupid - like cut greens off my poor onions so that they never bulb. 

 

 

post #7 of 60

I really want to do a combo balcony/indoor garden this year. Really, a garden is the only reason I want a house. We started a bunch of planted veggies and herbs on the balcony last year and cicadas came and were swarming our balcony so bad I couldn't go out and water them. I'm going to try again this year. I will be happy I guess even if I can just get some herbs. Anyone else trying to grow from an apartment?

post #8 of 60
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pr mom View Post
 Anyone else trying to grow from an apartment?


I do. :-)

 

post #9 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by kitchensqueen View Post

 


I do. :-)

 



Great, glad to see I'm not alone. What are you growing? Each time we get a hint of spring here I want to plant something. I planted to herbs yesterday and I'm hoping they sprout even if it is January.

 

post #10 of 60
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pr mom View Post

Great, glad to see I'm not alone. What are you growing? Each time we get a hint of spring here I want to plant something. I planted to herbs yesterday and I'm hoping they sprout even if it is January. 

 

There's lots of us out there. I'm a bit of an urban homesteader. Right now, I'm overwintering my bay tree, thyme and oregano. Thyme is not looking so good; I started the winter with two, and I'm not sure this one is going to make it. It just gets way to dry and drafty in our apartment. I've also got some green bunching onion seeds planted, but as yet they haven't done anything. But I've been lazy and not exactly kept the pot especially warm and all that. 

 

This season, I plan to grow much more than I actually have the space for - tomatoes, hot peppers, and chard for sure. I'd also like to do edamame and potatoes. And I'm going to do some flowers this season. I mix it up every year (my blog has details on past year's efforts).

 

What do you plan to grow?
 

 

post #11 of 60

I'm hoping to do a bit of gardening this year. I live in a townhome with a second level deck and a small backyard. I have some Earthboxes that my mom gave me a few years ago. I'm hesitant to use them because there's a distant possibility that we'll move over the summer. I was thinking that Topsy Turvy planters might be more portable in that situation. Also the Topsy Turvy thingies would use less soil. Any opinions on Earthbox vs. Topsy Turvy?

 

I am thinking about planting: a tomato, a sweet-variety bell pepper, strawberries and some herbs. I figure keeping things simple is the best plan.

post #12 of 60

With the Topsy Turvy be sure and use a very light-weight soil mix - lots of vermiculite and peat.  They get very heavy if you use potting mix.  And they do need to be watered every day! 

 

What is Earth box?

post #13 of 60

Earthboxes are container planters that have a water reservoir in the bottom: http://www.earthbox.com/.

post #14 of 60

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Edited by superbeans - 5/10/12 at 6:40am
post #15 of 60

Jumping in here too.  We have a pretty small backyard and with a toddler and a dog I need to leave room for them to run around.  I am still getting my feet wet as a gardener and just did a few containers last year with tomatoes, squash and basil. Everything did really well last year so I am feeling much more ambitious with my plans for this year.  I am currently making my list of seeds I plan to order from Baker Creek in the next week or so. I am also planning to make a compost bin for backyard.  I think I will still use mostly containers this year with maybe just a couple things in ground.

post #16 of 60
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erin121 View Post

I think this is a thread I need to be on! We're city gardeners. Although to be honest I feel like our garden is HUGE this year.... I had gotten used to our old apartment which had a 10x3 cement slab in front which we filled with container gardens (tomato and cucumber seemed to do the best. But we had some luck with peppers. and a squash or two.). We moved last year in April and now have a small yard.... last year we basically threw in whatever vegetable plants we could still get from the store. They all did well... but this year I want to plan it out much better.

 

Does anyone have any recs for where to order seeds? I wish there was some way to order a variety pack... so that I wouldn't end up with 100 of the same kind of seed. I found a few variety packs on etsy. Does anyone know of anyplace else?

 

Also although we do have a yard, it is pretty small. So any recs on making the most of the space? Last year we grew our cucumbers on the chain link fence and that worked out SO well. Anything else you can grow on a fence? We must have gotten a mixed seed (our maybe it just sprouted from compost) but we had a volunteer watermelon plant on our fence and that actually did pretty well.

 

We still do strawberries, herbs, and hot peppers in containers.

 

If any of you guys are planners, exactly how many of everything do you plant? We ended up with WAY more cucumbers and tomatoes than we could eat... and wished we had planted a few more okra plants.


Pinetree Garden Seeds is my favorite purveyor by far - cheap prices, excellent seed quality, huge variety, nice family-owned business. I also like Baker Creek and Seed Savers Exchange. Those are my top three favorites. 

 

You're on the right track with trellising - you can trellis anything that has a vine - cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, squash and melons (though you'll need to do hammocks as the fruit gets big), peas, beans, etc. Another space-saving technique I like is square foot and/or raised bed gardening. You can really pack the plants in.

 

I love planning the garden, but I've only got about a dozen big planters currently, so my plan is pretty straight forward for this year - mostly hot peppers and cherry tomatoes, and a plant or two of everything else. :-) When you research which varieties to plant, look at average yield information. Put that against how much you think you'll eat in a given time period. That'll give you an idea of how many plants you want. 

 

post #17 of 60

Our friend  did her cantaloupe on a trellis.  She made slings out of thrift store bras.   She had quite a nice little harvest with square foot gardening.  Comparing her efforts to ours in our raised beds, she had to put in much more effort/$$ (esp. since the soil needs heavy amending for the intense gardening), for less harvest, but it was in a tiny space and she loved it.

 

We like Seed-Savers, and a local nursery carries them in store! 

We spent a lot of money on seeds the first year (we have a pretty big garden), but they are good for many years, so we haven't had to buy more.

 

On planning;  I do count out how many plants I want, then I plant more seeds - you never know which ones will be duds, or will be dropped by little 'helping' hands, etc.  I don't give too much credence to the spacing instructions;  I just cram them in.  I also give away seedlings to family/friends.  I am going to start a garden for a friend this year (I covet her 1/3 acre of sunlight and can't believe she doesn't grow anything) with extra seedlings.  (I can pickles and tomato sauce, as well as freeze squash for winter, so there is no such thing as too much).

 

One thing we haven't successfully grown is peppers.  I had jalapenos every year, but everything else just doesn't make it.  The first year, they were swamped by monstrous tomato/zucchini plants (anyone else's Seed Savers zucchini grow, like, 500 times bigger than a normal zucchini plant?)  Last year the sweet peppers  started turning red, but then rotted away to nothing on the stem.  Pretty gross.

 

 

 


Edited by jes h - 2/11/12 at 9:25pm
post #18 of 60

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Edited by superbeans - 5/10/12 at 6:40am
post #19 of 60

I'm smiling at the image of the thrift store bras hanging off the plants, cradling cucumbers. 

 

I'm working this year to expand our gardening room.  We are on a small urban plot - maybe 1/10 of an acre? Our front yard is north facing and quite shady.  Our back yard is small, fenced and in parts, very sunny.  We also have a dog and small kids so need a bit of room not devoted to gardening for running around.

 

In the past we've done great with a bank of raspberry bushes that yields nearly a pint a day for about 2 - 3 glorious weeks at the end of June, early July, lots of herbs, 6 - 8 tomato plants, and a peach tree - - but I want more!  My goal is ultimately to be able to comprise most of our meals at least partially from our veggies.  This year I've decided to bite the bullet and tear up a perennial garden (I LOVE flowers) in the sunniest part of the yard, build it up with field stone (I'm looking on Craigslist for some deals), and turn it over to veggies.  This garden will probably be home to bush cucumbers, pole beans, maybe 2 squash plants. I've also decided to put window boxes all along the back of the house, above the garden, and grow veggies in there.  (I'm thinking kale and spinach, at least for the next few months, until the area might get inhospitably hot for them in the window boxes.)  I looked on ebay today and saw some decently priced cedar boxes I might invest in.  When it gets hotter I might transplant eggplant or peppers into the window boxes. Does anyone have experience growing veggies in window boxes?  I wouldn't think it would be too terribly different than containers, as long as the boxes are sufficiently deep.

 

I'm pretty excited about this plan.  I've started my spinach and kale seedlings in egg shell cups inside the house.

 

My hope is next year to begin adding raised beds along the "hell strip" (the area between street and sidewalk) along the side of the house.  We live in an area where aesthetics are important, so I'm looking into a way to do this attractively, yet on the cheap. 

post #20 of 60

According to the guy we buy soil/compost from, most veggies grow in the top 3-4 inches of the soil, so I would think window boxes would work; provided you pick plants that won't spread too much.  We are blessed with a very experienced veggie nursery and I know if I were to ask him, he could tell me what will be more compact for a box.  Not all nurseries are created equally;  the other local nursery's around us sell veggies but really only know landscaping/flowers, and big box stores are right out. 

 

On gardening in the strip, are you going to try to make it a tidy looking veggie patch (with a Farmer McGreggor sign?), which I think can look pleasing, or try to disguise it as edible landscaping, also pleasing? I plant peppers in my flower beds and they look very pretty;  they don't sprawl all over the place (now, I don't have a lot of success getting them to ripen, see above, but they grow fine).  Nasturtiums vine around and could grow between plants to give it a fuller feel.   They are delightful in salads, Sugar snap peas and beans are just slightly less pretty than traditional sweet peas (pretty, just not as prolific flowers).  They freeze well for winter stir-fries. 

 

That seems like a great place to garden;  the sidewalk should radiate extra sunlight back to your plants and the street will keep things a hair warmer at night!

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