By Cindy Naas
The biggest challenge any urban gardener faces is that of finding enough room to grow everything.
Here are some suggestions to help you use every available inch of space. You might be surprised at just how much fresh produce you can grow in a tiny city garden!
1. Pots and Containers
Container gardens are the backbone of many city gardens. A pretty collection of pots grouped on the stairs to your house can hold tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs and pretty much whatever your heart desires. Be creative in what you use for a container and don’t limit yourself to using ceramic or plastic flower pots. I have a large Rubbermaid container with drain holes drilled in the bottom that is the perfect place to grow a bumper crop of basil, and I grow potatoes in a garbage can.
Trellising can nearly double the amount of gardening space and is a city gardener’s best friend. Using trellises with pots, I have grown cantaloupe, watermelon, squash, vine tomatoes and even pumpkins. Trellises can be made from found materials- branches, plastic pipes, and even old nylon stockings can be used as ties with your trellis.
3. Combine Beds
Do you have an existing garden? Perhaps a foundation planting which came with your house, a group of shrubs, or even a tree in the yard? Add some veggies to those beds to increase available space. Right now, I am preparing my rose bed for the companion plantings of herbs. I have two perennial herbs, lavender and sage, growing in my rose garden. In early May, I’ll be adding in annual herbs – savory, oregano, parsley and dill. Herbs are good choices to add to existing beds because they are not heavy feeders, for the most part, and most also look quite pretty woven into a bed of flowers or shrubs.
4. Grow Lettuce and Greens
You can fit a head or two of lettuce into even a fairly small nook in your garden. Because lettuces are fast to the finish line, you can grow several crops of greens in the same space, as well. I sometimes edge my garden beds with lettuce seeds. The various colours of lettuce look nice as edging and since I plant a new row every two or three weeks, I have a steady crop of salad greens. You can edge an existing flower bed with lettuce, and you can also tuck a few lettuce seeds into a pot of something which grows more slowly, like tomatoes or cucumbers. By the time the bigger veggies need the room, you will have finished eating the lettuce.
5. Keep a Supply of New Seedlings
Using the ‘Square Foot Gardening’ method works really well for urban gardeners. One of the handiest tips from the book is that of keeping new vegetable plants ready to be planted as soon as another kind of veggie is eaten. As space becomes available, a new type of plant is popped in, and no space ever goes to waste for the entire growing season. Using this method can dramatically increase the amount of food produced by the small garden, so it will pay to get a copy of the book and put his ideas to work in your city garden.