Just because you don’t have a large yard or plot to have a garden, that shouldn’t stop you from growing your own vegetables. These days, there are great varieties that grow well in containers and small spaces. In today’s podcast, Joe Lamp’l talks about what you need to know to have a great, small space garden, and even discusses some specific varieties to try, including tomatoes!
BHG008-Gardening in Small Spaces
This week, we’re talking about gardening in containers and small spaces. Now I garden in a relatively small space, but I still have plenty of room to grow what I need to feed my family all our veggie needs and yet, I still take advantage of using containers and think about how to economize the space I have. It’s a smart way to get a lot of bang for the buck. No matter where you live, as long as you have the desire to grow even a single container, today there are plants that are ideally suited for small spaces and that includes vegetables…even tomatoes!
So as usual, let’s get started with the basics. If you’re a space-challenged gardener, we’re going to focus on selecting plants that are bred to remain compact. In addition, we can take advantage of vertical space, since a lot of vegetable plants grow up a lot more than they grow out.
As you prepare your small space garden, if you have the option, place your containers or growing beds in the sunniest space possible. Now I realize we might be talking about just the difference of a few feet, but you know what? That can make a lot more difference than you realize if it means a few more hours of sun each day! And if you’re inclined, invest in a platform that has rollers on it. Then place your container on top. As the sun moves across the sky, you can chase it by moving your container to soak up all those precious rays. I know that sounds extreme but I really know people that do this and it can make a really big difference! You can find those rolling platforms at home improvement stores.
But however you decide to go, select the largest containers practical for your space and budget. Then add the best planting soil you can afford. You’ll find bags of this type labeled as container mix, or potting soil. Their specifically engineered to drain well while holding adequate moisture. Some even have slow release fertilizer mixed in. And when it comes to container gardens, that’s really important since nutrients flush trough them so quickly. You’ll need a slow release nutrient source and today’s container mixes usually include this. So don’t skimp here. Get the best soil you can afford.
And now the fun begins when you add the plants. But we don’t want to add just any kind. Although there are a lot of plants that will thrive in containers, let’s go with the ones that are ideally suited! In general, almost any kind of herb plant will do just fine. Most stay rather small, but even the taller ones, like fennel or dill, will work. Just provide some support as they grow up. Speaking of growing up, as long as you have the proper support, the sky’s the limit for even classic vegetables. Think of Cucumbers, peas, pole beans and even tomatoes! If you’re willing to let your plants ramble vertically, with the proper support, go for it! But to keep your space manageable, here are few suggestions that will give you and your plants room to grow.
For tomatoes, there are two basic types: indeterminate and determinate. You’ll want the latter. Determinate varieties include bush types. The blossoms and fruit develop on the vine at the same time. Harvest time is consolidated into a short period of about 7-10 days. The good news is the plants are self-topping and rarely need staking. That’s what you’re looking for…determinate varieties! It usually even says so on the plant tag. And two great smaller varieties to try from Burpee Home Gardens include: BushSteak Hybrid, Bush Early Girl.
Peppers are another summer classic. And since they all stay on the smaller side, just about any variety will work. Simply provide a stake for each container to hold the plants upright once the fruit starts to develop. Even cucumbers work in small gardens, especially with clumping varieties such as Bush Champion.
And let’s not forget about lettuce blends. Burpee Home Gardens has even created a few special mixes ideally suited for containers, including Global Gourmet, Alfresco and City Garden Mix! And finally, if you just want the container garden without the fuss, then pick up a patio ready pot, already planted and ready to enjoy.
Once your garden is planted, all that’s left for you to do is to make sure you keep your plants watered. Even with great soil, containers dry out much more quickly than plants growing in the ground. So don’t be surprised if you need to water every day! You never want your plants to dry out nor do you want the soil to remain saturated. So the best way to find that proper balance is to simply monitor the soil moisture and water as necessary. A simple probe into the soil with your finger will tell you if the soil is dry in which case, it’s time to water. It’s that easy.
So until you can have the sprawling garden of your dreams, there’s no need to wait! Head out to the garden center, get those containers and soil, and of course, your Burpee Home Garden plant varieties that are ideally suited for just your kind of place! In fact, no matter where your garden grows, we’ll be right there with you, every step of the way to help you have a great season. This is just one of 26 podcasts created to get you off to a successful start and provide helpful, weekly tips throughout the entire growing season. And to be sure you don’t miss a single, you can subscribe to this podcast series for free in iTunes.
And for more ideas and inspiration any time, be sure to check out burpeehomegardens.com.
Now go get dirty!