We only have a small back yard with no planting area, but we decided to have a go at growing some of our own vegetables this summer anyway. Obviously some things were out of the question that need a lot of room, like pumpkins, but the majority of vegetables can be grown quite easily in containers.
Potatoes can be grown in big plastic containers like these (plastic ones are cheaper), or even a rubbish bag. Peas can also be grown in these big containers, just add some stakes in for support. We managed to fit 5 pea plants in each of these containers and harvested quite a bounty of gorgeous peas at the height of summer.
Our carrots actually failed a bit (okay, a lot. Not a single one did we manage to harvest successfully). Lots just died off and the ones we did manage to pull out of the ground were half rotten. I half suspect that the heavy rain in the summer made them too wet and we should have had better drainage, but oh well. We will try again next year. Above is a wooden planter than Scott built. It has storage underneath it too and the planter is at chest level. We planted beetroot, carrots and spring onions and have had some lovely spring onions from it and the beetroot will be ready to harvest any day now. So 2 out of 3 isn't bad.
Another staple of our garden are herbs. We have thyme, sage, mint, oregano, basil and rosemary.
Here are a few tips for growing veg in small spaces:
- drainage, drainage, drainage! A container probably won't have as good natural drainage as planting into the ground, and you don't want your vegetables rotting because they are too wet. Old pieces of terracotta or a chopped up plastic pot can be use for drainage in the bottom of a container.
- Don't buy expensive seeds - seeds from poundland and wilkos are just as good.
- It's okay to cheat - I've often bought baby plants to get a headstart. The kale was bought as plugs and we planted them on. I also cheated last year and bought some courgette plants from Wilkinsons as my courgette seeds failed.
- Keep all of your plants in the sunniest area. Our garden is quite shady so all of our containers are clustered into the left hand side to maximise the sunshine. The great thing with a container garden is that you can shuffle them around so ones that are looking a bit in need of extra sunshine can be moved. It also comes in handy when entertaining - you can move all the containers out of the way to maximise space.
- Don't neglect them - remember to water them in the morning and evening on very hot days and trim off any dying parts of plants regularly. It's also important to harvest them while they're at their best - we missed out on a few peas because we didn't pick them at the right time.
- Don't worry about expensive feeds - we never used any and our plants turned out fine. Okay, they might *improve* your harvest, but they aren't the be all and end all.
We would love a bigger garden one day (or even an allotment!) but at the moment we don't have the time or money to dedicate to a bigger garden so our little container garden is perfect for us.