Spring is here!
Are you already salivating at the thought of how delicious the fresh vegetables will be that you will buy at the local farmer’s market and roadside stands during the summer? Have you considered growing your own? It is easier than you might think and now is the time to get started.
This month’s blog postings have been about including more green vegetables like lettuce, spinach, kale and Swiss Chard into your diet to help you lose weight, boost your nutritional intake and lower levels of inflammation that contribute to chronic disease. Leafy greens are some of the easiest vegetables to grow as they can tolerate more shade than those that bear “fruit” like tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers which require over 6 hours of full sun.
And don’t forget the herbs like parsley, cilantro, thyme and others that grow beautifully in containers of all kinds. Some are more sun or shade tolerant than others, so be sure to check their growing needs when deciding where you want to have your garden.
Here are 10 container ideas for growing veggies in small spaces.
Preparing a large garden with straight rows or raised beds isn’t the only way to grow vegetables. Vertical gardens are popular places to grow greens when you have confined spaces such as the balcony of an apartment/condo or townhouse yard.
1. Attaching drain gutters to the wall of a house or garage provides plenty of space to grow lettuces, spinach and other small veggies and herbs. Install on a slight angle so that water from the top rows can drain to the lower ones.
2. Close off the back of a wooden pallet, fill it with soil and plant in the open spaces for an inexpensive garden area. Be sure to leave the pallet with the natural finish. you don’t want to stain it and potentially have the plants that you will be eating absorb the chemicals.
3. And don’t forget the versatility of PVC pipe. Either hang them from above or secure to a wall, drill holes in a row along the top and plant seeds or seedlings. Sections can be connected together to allow water to drain through to lower levels and keep everything moist.
5. Household organizers are great containers. Wire shelving that hooks onto doors can be lined with coconut fiber pot liners, filled with potting soil and plants installed. The same goes for hanging shoe organizers. Fill each pocket with soil, plant and water. You may need to poke some drainage holes in the pockets and line the bottoms with some screening to keep the soil in and let the water out but it is a inexpensive and creative way to get started.
6. Use stack-able pots to create a tower replete with dozens of planting areas. There are many different types of pots that can be stacked and you can find pots specially made to create these vertical towers. Add as many as you want to make it as tall as you can reach to grow a plethora of plants.
8. If you have a little yard space, you can grow a bit more by clustering window boxes or containers of any size on your deck or patio. Mix up vegetables and herbs with flowering plants, especially marigolds and nasturtiums to help keep pesky bugs at bay.
9. Creating more planting area with a larger , pyramid or step style raised garden. It can be as simple as using wooden step stringers to support plastic planters to more elaborate do-it-yourself or pyramid kit gardens.
Important things to consider when growing anything outdoors are:
- The amount of sun they will be getting. Very little grows in deep shade, so having sun part of the day is best even if you are growing greens.
- Always make sure they are well watered there is good drainage in whatever container you use.
- Just like us human, plants cannot grow without the proper food. When you are growing plants to eat, it is best to use organic fertilizers that release the nutrients slowly.
- The roots of plants like light, fluffy, soil , so be sure to use potting soil, not soil from your yard. It can be combined with compost to provide additional, slow release nutrients and your plants will love you for it.
Growing your own food is a sure way to know “where it came from” and to give you control over the addition or absence of toxic chemicals used by commercial growers. It is also an excuse to get outside, breathe the fresh air, get some easy exercise into your day and perhaps even make it a family project. Kids will love eating what they’ve grown with their own knowledge and hands.
To your health!
Here are links to other articles that you may find helpful in including more greens into your daily diet.