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A Small Unit Garden: some ideas

Updated on January 19, 2013
BlossomSB profile image

Although Bronwen has only a small garden now, she continues to be interested in gardens, plants and the bugs that attack.

Much more garden space with tubs and posts
Much more garden space with tubs and posts | Source

Tub and Pot Gardening

Over a year ago I moved into a unit with a small garden. It's been great fun getting it the way I would like it to be, although, as gardeners will know, that does not last for long. There is always something else to do in a garden. It makes me wonder why I bothered to buy a little table and two chairs. The moment I sit, I see something else that needs doing! My Mother used to tell me that if I pulled out ten weeds a day, I would keep it under control. I'm not so sure about that, but I guess a little every day does help.

However, soon my flowers, vegetables and herbs had taken up all the available space, and I wanted to put in more. It's such fun watching things grow, and even more useful when we can eat the produce. I must admit that my zucchinis rarely get as far as the kitchen. I have usually crunched them before I reach the back door. Fresh food is so delicious.

I needed more space, so I expanded into tubs and pots which have gradually been added to and now line the pathway. They practically double the size of my garden and I can control what goes into them. The soil in the garden is sandy and what moisture is retained is drained by the roots of a row of silver birches the other side of the fence. But with using containers I can mix up a really good soil for them. I use bags of potting mix, garden soil, chook pellets and a small handful of moisture - retaining beads.

Making the most of garden space
Making the most of garden space | Source

My 501 Pets

In a unit, we are limited in the number and size of pets we can have, so I have my small, indoor dog and five hundred other pets. Yes, they are worms! I invested in a Worm Farm and although I only bought a minimum number of worms, it works well. I can recommend it. It's a great way to recycle most of my kitchen waste and the vegetables just thrive on their drinks of Worm Tea. They're hooked on it.

The Farm has a little tap at the bottom and I leave it turned on with a bucket underneath. Each time the bucket is about a third full, I add some water and voila! Worm Tea. There are some rules in caring for worms, though.

The small Worm Farm just fits in the space
The small Worm Farm just fits in the space | Source

How to Care for a Worm Farm

It's quite simple, really. Worms don't like big changes in temperature, so it's best to set the Farm up in a shady spot, or even in the garage. A well-kept Worm Farm does not smell.

The worms are living creatures and need to be fed. They even have likes and dislikes. They love vegetable scraps, peelings, fruit, skins, tea-leaves, and even tea-bags. I add a few weeds from the garden, spent flowers from indoor vases, torn up newspapers and crushed egg-shells. Variety is important. A handful of soil sprinkled on top helps and they do like some moisture, so the contents of the vase goes in as well. Once a week a teaspoonful of Worm Farm Conditioner may be sprinkled over the scraps, but it isn't absolutely necessary. They really don't like onions or acidic foods like citrus. The worms may be small, but they eat up to half their body-weight each day! Baby worms grow to maturity in about three months.

Most Worm Farms come with instructions about how to set up the Farm and give advice about when to add another level to the Farm and when to clean them out so you can use the castings as well as the Tea. I can recommend them, they are easy to care for, great at recycling scraps into compost, and so good for the garden.

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    • gerrywalker profile image

      Gerry Walker 5 years ago from Treasure Coast, Florida

      Dear Blossom: Two super interesting hubs; I've been tub-flower gardening along with one large herb tub for years; I am plagued by deer so geraniums are pretty much the only flowers I grow, however I'm going to try putting out oregano for ground cover when it's a bit warmer. Snow this morning. How about temperature needs for the worm farm? I couldn't lift to bring them inside if they're not 'cold weather critters' but the worm farm sounds intriguing.

      Gerry

    • Alta5656 profile image

      Alta5656 5 years ago from Davao City, Philippines

      Beautiful and a very interesting hub. Thank you for sharing. I wish I could have a garden like this in the near future.

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      @gerrywalker Thank you. The only pests I have are insects, so I'm lucky. Geraniums are interesting and there are so many varieties. Many years ago I had just on 200 different kinds - my Father-in-law was Australian Secretary of the Nomenclature Committee. Not living in a cold climate, I'm not sure about freezing weather. Do the wild ones survive in the soil where you are? Perhaps they would be best in the garage. They don't take a lot of space.

      @alta5656: Thank you, too. I find it's best to experiment and find out what works best in the area where I live and concentrate on those plants.

    • davenmidtown profile image

      David Stillwell 5 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Hey BlossomSB: You were right I did enjoy this hub! I have always thought about trying to worm farm but as of now... have not. It looks rather easy and maybe I will give it a try this spring! voted up and awesome... I am also going to put this link in my winter gardening hub!

    • leroy64 profile image

      Brian L. Powell 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas (Oak Cliff)

      Interesting. I had no idea there was such a thing as worm farm.

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      @davenmidtown: Great! I'll be interested to know how you go if you do start a worm farm.

      @leroy64: It's fun, good for the environment and they don't take a lot of care.

    • gerrywalker profile image

      Gerry Walker 5 years ago from Treasure Coast, Florida

      Hey Blossom, oh yes, I love geraniums and now that I'm back in the mountains will try some more scented ones this coming spring. In Florida where I was for several years it was too hot for those. Up here in the past I've had many different ones and really looking forward to planting them again. But some of the Florida natural geraniums are fine even in the cooler weather; they are so sturdy and get enormous in my tubs. I have two buckets of them in my bedroom (south facing window) over-wintering. Love their cinnamony scent.

      Gerry

    • wordmasher profile image

      wordmasher 5 years ago from USA

      Love the photos.

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      gerrywalker: Do you know Tormentosum? (I think that's how it's spelt) It has soft furry leaves and smells like peppermint. Years ago I wrote a poem about lifting up my eyes to the mountains, but I live in a flattish area now.

      Wordmasher: Thank you. I couldn't find anything suitable, so just went out the back door, took the photos it and transferred them to the computer. The wonders of modern technology!

    • profile image

      bgoodall 5 years ago

      Wow I've never heard of a worm farm before haha. This is a great post and makes me want to start gardening!

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Do, it's fun and so rewarding.

    • gerrywalker profile image

      Gerry Walker 5 years ago from Treasure Coast, Florida

      No, haven't heard of tormentosum. I know deer don't like lambs ears which are also a fuzzy little plant. and yes, the wild worms survive in the soil here, saw one when digging up a small fir for Christmas (replanted now). It was about 6-8 inches down in the soil. I'll look up tormentosum on the internet.

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      I also have a geranium that has small leaves that smell like lime and they are supposed to be good for making lime tea. The only problem is that I once heard that geraniums are poisonous. Perhaps that was incorrect.

    • gerrywalker profile image

      Gerry Walker 5 years ago from Treasure Coast, Florida

      This link takes you to a list of scented geraniums, beautiful pictures and extensive explanation of various ones. There are over 150 varieties and some are okay for cooking, others wouldn't be, like cedar and balsam; the citronella one is used to deter insects. But the rose geraniums are absolutely gorgeous, have been used in cooking for many generations and smell just wonderful!

      http://www.herbnet.com/geraniumlist.pdf

      I'm sure you'll enjoy this!

      Gerry

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      gerrywalker: Thank you for confirming that geraniums are edible and for the link. I do agree that the scent of rose geraniums is lovely.

    • arusho profile image

      arusho 5 years ago from University Place, Wa.

      good hub and advice!

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Thank you. It's such fun writing hubs, isn't it?

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I had to chuckle over your numerous plants because my husband is also of the same nature. Our backyard looks very similar to yours. It is amazing how plants grow and bring a peace to one's soul as they care for them. I will have to pass on the worm farm story to my hubby for consideration. Enjoyed reading your hub. Voted up!

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      I smiled at your comments, too. For lunch today I had a vegetable stew of silver beet, tomato, mint, parsley and green beans, all from my small garden, to accompany my grilled fish. The worms are much less demanding pets than my little dog.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Blossom SB, you made my mouth water and what a fresh healthy lunch!

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      teaches12345: It's such fun, too.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Your photos and information inspire me to try this method of gardening. Thanks! I'm now looking forward to spring again.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Denise Handlon: It's fun, I love the fresh produce that I know is organically grown and it's a good reason to get outside in the fresh air. Hope you do try. I'd be interested to know how you go.

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      gerrywalker: after all this time I've just got around to looking up that website. Thank you, it's great. I've printed it off to keep and share with one of my daughters and granddaughter who are very keen on garden, especially useful plants.

    • SherryDigital profile image

      Sherry Duffy 5 years ago from Here. There. Everywhere. Currently: Portland, OR

      This is great information. I will bookmark this hub and refer back to it when I start my worm farm after I move. All the best!

    • stars439 profile image

      stars439 5 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

      Your garden is beautiful , and very neat. My father use to raise worms, and sell them for fishing bait. Nice hub. God Bless You.

    • BeyondMax profile image

      BeyondMax 5 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      This is such a cool idea with tubs and pots! And you can always re-shuffle it for a new look =) And the worms - this is just fascinating! Love the pictures, amazing!

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      SherryDigital: Sorry I missed your lovely comments before. Did you move and do you have a worm farm now?

      stars439: Thank you. It isn't so neat at the moment. It's winter and I haven't been outside so much, but I'm planning on getting back to it soon. I think these worms are different, they're quite skinny.

      BeyondMax: How lovely! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I hope your garden is surviving at the moment. On TV we're being told that you're having a big storm and trees are being uprooted. Stay safe!

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 4 years ago from Germany

      Very interesting and useful hub! Thanks for sharing as I have learned a lot from reading this hub. Voted up and awesome;-)

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Thelma Alberts: I'm so pleased that you found it useful. It's surprising how much can be grown in a small space. I hope you have fun, although I guess you're coming on to Autumn now. Thank you for your vote.

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 3 years ago from Philippines

      This worm farm sounds very interesting. I will have to find a place in the Philippines where I can buy some. Very nice and helpful hub.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      grand old lady: They are interesting, and so useful, too. They're different from the earthworms we find in our soil. I'm wondering if a worm farm will work in the Philippines, so it might need some research. Last summer we had some really hot days, well over the old 100F. I tried to keep the tubs in the shade and put a damp towel over the top, but sadly they all died. As they are a different kind of worm more had to be purchased. However, they really are worth it, so I hope you are successful.

    • profile image

      Paeony 2 years ago

      Would love an update on the courtyard garden when you have a moment. I have just cleaned up my own courtyard and repotted a few plants that had outgrown their pots. I don't get any sun in mine like you do, so I can't grow any vegetables - only ferns and shade loving herbs, and other plants that don't mind the dark.

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Hi again, dear daughter! Mine could do with a clean-up at the moment, it's a mess, but I am still enjoying the herbs, lettuce (in tubs) and other leafy greens. Guess what? When I fed Flippy and Flappy in my tiny pond this morning there were several small fish there, too. They were all dark, so I don't know if they're goldfish or whether some other fish has mysteriously got in there.

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