Have you ever wanted your own vegetable garden? Growing your own food is cheap, healthy and good for the environment. But what if you don’t have a garden? Depending on where you are, there are often community initiatives like allotments, communal gardens and urban farms. But if you don’t have access to these, you can still grow your own vegetables and herbs at home, even in a small space. You may not be able to grow as much or as many varieties as you would outdoors with more space to play with, but you can certainly supplement your diet with organically grown produce. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Choose your plants wisely
If you don’t have much space, you’ll need to use it wisely. It’s not worth using up your space to grow produce that is cheap and easy to come by in your area. Use your space for more expensive vegetables or at the very least vegetables or herbs you use a lot. This will make your garden more financially viable. Get plants that will give you big yield for not much space. Herbs, salad greens and lettuce can provide you with baby leaves for months using minimal space. The same goes for greens like kale, chard and certain types of cabbage. Tomato plants will yield many tomatoes throughout the season, as will chili peppers. Cucumbers, courgettes and aubergines (eggplants) on the other hand, will not yield nearly as much and take a lot more space to grow. They may be cool to look at and tasty to eat, but unless you have plenty of space, they’re not really worth the investment.
Plant or seeds?
While seeds are cheaper to buy, available by post and come in more varieties, they do take more time and effort to grow. If you’re impatient and short on time, buy some plants to get started. They will grow to yielding size faster so you can start eating your produce sooner. Plants are more expensive, but if you choose ones that yield well, they’ll still work out cheaper than buying your own veg.
If you do want to grow your plants from seed, make sure you follow the instructions on the packet. Some plants require sowing at a particular time of year. If you are going to put your plants on a windowsill or a balcony, it might be best to propagate them indoors first where they are protected from the elements before planting outside.
Modern technology means there’s no more need for actual sunlight. You can actually grow indoor plants in very dim conditions or even complete darkness. The trick is to use grow lights, which you can set to whatever time and amount of light is required by the plants. There are plenty of options to choose from to suit anyone’s budget and any plant you may wish to grow (you can find out more about these on sites like Lumigrowth that feature reviews and ratings). With this method you can convert even your basement or garage into a spacious vegetable patch. Nowhere is too dark when you have your own sunlight on demand.
Think out of the box
We’re used to thinking horizontally when it comes to growing vegetables, but small spaces require different thinking. Why not think vertically? You can maximise even the smallest of spaces by creating a green wall, using unusual containers such as old plastic bottles, wooden pallets and even heavy duty plastic bags. If you have a small balcony, you can easily convert the space into a substantial growing area using this method. But even if you’re growing completely indoors, you can make your green wall into a unique feature in your home or workplace. A hanging wall of herbs can be a great addition to your kitchen where it could be within easy reach. This is a popular feature in many organic cafés that use the herbs for making herbal teas. Of course, not all plants can be grown vertically. This is a method that works best for leafy plants without fruit.
One growing method that’s increasing in popularity is aquaponics. A method that combines growing fish and plants in a unique ecosystem. This symbiotic environment allows fish waste to be used to fertilise the plants, while the water is cleaned and circulated back to the fish tank. Systems vary in size and complexity so can be suitable for small spaces. This method is also a great project for children to get involved in.