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Victory Gardens in Small Spaces

Updated on September 11, 2013

Grow your victory garden in containers!

You can grow fresh fruit and vegetables for your family in a space smaller then you think! Whether you have a patio, a rooftop, a balcony, or a small urban backyard, you can grow in containers. It doesn't matter if you have too much sun or two much shade.

Self-Watering Containers

Save money, time, and effort

Self-watering containers are two separate containers put together, and the bottom is a water reservoir. You fill it up, and then the plant does the rest. Ok, the sun and the soil help draw the water up to where the roots can utilize it as well.

You save huge amounts on your water bill because you're only using water that your plant will use, and the water isn't running off into parts of your garden where there are no plants.

You can get attachments for your hose that fit into the opening so that water isn't running when you've finished filling one container and you're moving on to the next. This also prevents water from running down the balconies and annoying your downstairs neighbors.

Some containers are large, like Earthboxes and Gardenpatch containers, and others are small like standard round pots. The ones pictured at the top are from Gardenpatch. They can hold 8 stalks of corn, 8 broccoli plants, or 2 tomato plants (and lots in between).

Pictured here are 14" round self-watering containers from Johnny's Seeds. That link should take you directly to the container. If not, start at and drill down into Containers.

Each 14" container can handle one tomato or one pepper. You know, you can plant one tomato, and then around the edges, plant lettuce. By the time you've harvested the lettuce, the tomato plant is so large that it would have provided too much shade anyway.

The other nice thing about self-watering containers is that often, you only have to water once a week. During the heat of summer, you'll need to fill the reservoir more often. Before I switched for my tomato plants, I would have to water my tomatoes two to three times a day during the 100F heat.

Shade Gardening

So you're facing the wrong way. That's OK. There are plants that really like the shade such as radishes and carrots. There are a lot of other "cool loving" plants like spinach, cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli, etc. that you can grow; however, you may need to purchase a grow light to ensure that gives it the 12-14 hours of daylight that it needs.

Many flowering plants, like peppers, cucumbers, squash and tomatoes require the 10-14 hours of sunlight. There are some varieties of tomato that can handle the cold weather such as Stupice and Glacier. You can purchase seeds at Territorial Seed Company and start your own seedlings 4-6 weeks before planting outside.

If you don't have room inside your place for seedlings, you can When flowers form, you may need to self-pollinate by shaking the flowers a bit, or using a cotton swab to move the pollen around the flowers.

Growing in a Desert

Can be as sweet as dessert

Everyone tells you you're SO lucky because most of the common vegetables love the heat like peppers, tomatoes, corn, and squash. And yet, every time you try to plant, the poor babies shrivel up.

Look into shade covers that you can bring out during the heat of the day if you get direct sun. It will cut down on the intensity.

Otherwise, you may just not have provided enough water in the past. Get self-watering containers, and your plants should thrive.

The first photo here is of a garden in Arizona that is lush and thriving without shade covers.

Herbs Love Abuse

Or why not to put herbs in a self-watering container

Herbs prefer to have life a bit rough. They like dry soil periodically. It seems to make the flavor intensify.

So if you want to grow basil, rosemary, thyme (parsley, sage...oh, sorry), put them in a regular container. You can crowd them in as well.

Imagine when the recipe calls for fresh chives, and you can walk out on the patio and cut a bunch. It's heaven.

Now, this isn't to say you never water them! You also want to ensure that they do get fed on occasion. Ensure that they're in well-draining soil.

And finally, cut them back in the winter. Herbs like rosemary can get quite large and you'll have mostly wood with just a little rosemary on the ends if you let it run wild.

And be careful with mint. It's a lot like ivy and kudzu. Once it gets going, it's extremely difficult to get rid of. So keep it trimmed and don't let it jump out of its container into the ground.

Cooking with your vegetables - what else would you do with them....other then canning or freezing?

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