Thursday, March 19, 2009

It Is Time to get In the Tiny Garden!

Well almost. But it is certainly time to get things ready. Here in the Boston area the days are getting longer and warmer and that brings up all kinds of thoughts about Farmer’s Markets with fresh produce as well as vibrantly colored flowers like crocus and daffodil pushing their way toward the sun to welcome back its warmth. In the next couple weeks the snow might even melt back enough to begin turning soil for planting our own yumminess. For those who enjoy it, there is nothing quite like getting their hands (and knees!) dirty to sow their harvest.

But what about those of us who live in apartment buildings? Are we shunned from the gardening world simply because we have nothing more than a balcony or patio? The answer is no! Not only can it be fun but it might even look better than the neighbor’s back yard garden when all is said and done.

Flower pots with some soil can be gorgeous and plentiful in limited outdoor spaces. Consider using many different sizes, stagger in groupings of odd numbers and vary the color and type of plant grown in them to bring great interest to the space. Bring in small tables to house smaller pots, place larger ones in the back. Have fun with it!

If your outdoor space is very plain in general why not paint the outside of the pots a vibrant color or pattern? Old kitchen sponges that are too gross to wash dishes with can be great stamping devices. Wet the sponge and wring out the excess water then use a couple different sizes and several paints in similar colors or tones to create depth in the finish. This looks especially wonderful (and holds up great) on terracotta pots. On plastic a top coat would be beneficial to ensure the look lasts.

Why not check craigslist, freecycle, yard sales or even the local newspaper to see if there is anyone looking to get rid of a small bistro table and chairs? Those old sofa pillows that are about ready to kick the bucket make great outdoor cushions when using a water resistant fabric to cover them such as vinyl. Check with fabric stores or online for remnants that will be less expensive, or free depending where they are located.

In our situation we have an even greater challenge -- our balcony is north facing so we get just about zero sun. This year we are planning to plant produce but shade loving plants like some lettuce, scallions and broccoli. Doing research about your specific climate and conditions is key to a successful growing season.

For those with no outdoor space, a window sill is a great spot for a lovely planter. Or get creative! Install an L bracket shelf system directly under a window that gets a lot of sun and place some sun loving plant filled pots on top to enjoy.

An apartment can be just as fun for a gardener as a large outdoor space if the residents use their creativity in approaching the spring growing season.

What are your tips for growing plants in small spaces?


Anonymous said...

We plant tomatoes in a large barrel every year and they do quite well. Great post.

Bridgete said...

I want to get a strawberry pot sometime. It's this huge pot that has these cup-shaped things coming out the sides, you stick a strawberry plant in each cup and usually a few in the top, and then you have strawberries! =)

Anonymous said...

In my old apartment, the only thing that I could ever grow was tomatoes. I tried other things, but nothing worked out, so I just embraced it and last year I had more heirloom tomatoes than I could eat!

Karen said...

I think we're going to find gardening in MT a whole lot different than in SoCal. So, our first year planting here will be pretty much an experiment. Green onions, basil, parsley, tomatoes for sure and we'll have to see what else does well. Good thing I have a great gardener because I'm not all that into gardening. The concept and fruits of labor sound good to me, but when I get down in the dirt, eh... I'd rather do something else.

High Desert Diva said...

I love container gardens of any kind.