Gardening Tips for Small Spaces

Whether in a garden constructed from wooden planks, in a pot in the backyard, or planted directly into a bag of soil, growing herbs and veggies is possible even in a small, personal space.

| June 2016

Mary Lou Shaw is a former physician, current homesteader, who has seen the consequences of unhealthy eating firsthand. These experiences have shown her the difference that good eating habits can make. And the easiest way to eat healthy? Grow your own ingredients. While processed foods put people at risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, farming, gardening, and eating food that only travels yards to the table promotes a return to a healthy lifestyle where you are directly involved in the creation of your meals and assured of their quality. In Growing Local Food (Carlisle Press, 2012), Dr. Shaw discusses her personal change to homegrown ingredients, how she’s found success on the farm and in the garden — from planting seeds to food preservation — and tips for how you can do the same. In her book are dozens of original recipes to browse, too, a great place to start searching for uses for your fresh ingredients. Healthy eating has to begin somewhere. Whether on an acre of land or in a garden box, it could begin with you.

Groceries from Your Own Backyard

I’ve heard people in town and suburbs say they don’t have room for a garden. Plants do need sun, good soil, water and drainage, but they don’t necessarily need a lot of room. Here are three suggestions for growing food in small spaces:

Container planting:

Do a mental tour of your yard. Do you have a patio or driveway area that gets sunshine at least six hours a day? Visualize the front yard too, because vegetables can be as attractive as shrubs or flowers.

Now imagine what containers you could use. I like clay pots, but large ones might be too heavy to be practical. Plastic containers are attractive and can last for years. To make deep pots lighter yet, you could place Styrofoam packing-peanuts and peat moss at the bottom portion of your pots.

Before filling the containers, make sure they have adequate drainage. If in doubt, don’t hesitate to drill a few more holes in the bottom. Next mix equal parts of compost, perlite and peat moss to put in the pots. When planting time comes, your pots will be ready for seeds or small plants.

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