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Small Space Gardening: Part One

Updated on April 12, 2011


Where there is a will there is a way and gardeners are among those who lend the truth to this old adage.

If you want to grow something, anything, be it fruit, flowers, herbs or vegetables and have even the smallest space you can do so. It is all a matter of determination, knowledge and design.

A single pot of geraniums on the stairs leading up to your apartment, a community garden plot, a backyard, side yard or front yard garden; containers on balconies, decks and patios; all are ways people express their desire to grow plants.

Ingenuity will see you through.

Your first step is to get to know the space where you garden will be; in particular, how much natural sunlight does it get none, all day or somewhere in-between? Once you know that you can start to develop a plant list selecting plants that thrive in the amount of sunlight that yoru have available.

Now how big is that space; room for one container or can you set up a small backyard market garden?

Garden design is one of the places where it pays to be honest with yourself. You may have space to grow enough food for a family of four but are you actually going to invest the time that is required to do this or is a small kitchen herb or cutflower garden more stable for yoru lifestyle?

If you have a small space and that is our focus here, then the process is easier, similar but also simpler? How much light does the space get; how big is it and once you know the answer to those two questions, what do you want to grow?

Containers are a highly effective means to grow your favourite plants in very tiny spaces. Fruit trees, vegetables, herbs, tomatoes, cutflowers and many, many vegetables will do well in a container. The main rules are make sure the container is big enough for the plant tog row and be sure that there is drainage so the plants roots do not get overly wet and rot.

Be sure to place something under the container that will catch any runoff; this may be particularly important on balconies and stairs where there are other people living below you.

Anything can be a container; anything that can hold soil and some water that is. I have used a pair of old work boots to grow Johnny-jump-ups and put them out on my balcony. They brought more than a few favourable comments and drew peoples’ attention to what else was growing there.

Visits to garage sales and flea markets can uncover some intriguing containers that may add a distinctive design touch. Make sure to match the container to the surrounding elements.

My favourite small space, single container garden consists of one Camp Joy Cherry tomato plants plus two basil plants. The Camp Joy is a heritage plant and a good producer. Tomatoes and basil are natural companions both growing in the same container or cooking in the same dish.

This combo is ideal for deck or patio and is be perfect on a backyard patio just near the kitchen door so the plants are right at hand when needed; as long as that spot get 6 hours of sunlight each day, they will provide you will tomatoes and basil to add fresh flavour to your meals.

container gardening

cauliflower in container

courtesy flickr/lollyknit
courtesy flickr/lollyknit


Submit a Comment
  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    11 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks for dropping by.

  • Nickel profile image


    11 years ago

    Afternoon Bob:

    Great Part 1 to container gardening. I check out the three minute gardening video and Calloway's video (which I have a Calloway's out here in TX) they were both fantastic quick learning guides on how I can manage container gardening in my small 50/50 sun and shade porch. The link also provided me small container plants I have forgotten about over the years. I use to having a garden to plant in and with recent life changes I've moved to container gardening due to new resident locations! Keep them coming and I will go check out Part 2.

    TTFN! Nic

  • tjmum profile image


    11 years ago from Isle of Wight

    I've always used pots as I have a tendancy to move a lot! I love fresh food, and even my husband will eat home grown salad! There are too many people who say they can't grow their own because they have no space, but I've always found windowsills to be a great alternative to a greenhouse. Great hub, look forward to part 2.

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    11 years ago from New Brunswick

    You are welcome, thanks for the comment.

  • MM Del Rosario profile image

    MM Del Rosario 

    11 years ago from NSW, Australia

    I live in a townhouse and i have only a very small courtyard but I managed to enjoy gardening by using pots and hanging baskets.  thanks for the info.

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    11 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks, ZB, I have had a few small space gardens over the years and use containers frequently for many different plants.

  • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

    Zsuzsy Bee 

    11 years ago from Ontario/Canada

    Bob! Great hub. Even though I have a big garden I still have the tendency to use my big planters for herbs mainly.

    regards Zsuzsy


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