Growing your own food garden has numerous benefits for you, your family and the planet. First and foremost, you know exactly what was used to grow your food. You have the power to use organic soil and compost, apply organic (even homemade) fertilizers and even fight pests naturally. You will also greatly reduce the environmental footprint of your vegetables that don’t need to travel on their way to your kitchen. Getting the kids involved in the gardening process is rewarding for you and for them, and will give them a deeper awareness and connection to the food that they eat. You’ll also save money growing your own food.
Short on space? No problem! There are many creative solutions that require just a little bit of prep and planning to begin your vegetable garden on your balcony, patio or any open space.
One of the easiest and most affordable ways to create a vertical garden is by salvaging an old wood pallet and repurposing it. You can often find wood pallets for free in salvage yards or in old building sites. Be sure that the wood on the pallet is heat-treated rather than chemically treated to avoid contamination of chemicals in your food. Look for the initials “HT” rather than “CT” to know how the pallet was processed. Once you have your pallet, all you’ll need is a little landscaping fabric, a staple gun, and soil. Easy!
Another way to go with vertical gardening is to purchase ready made pockets that you can nail straight to the wall. Woolly Pockets are awesome for growing food or creating “living walls”. You can also go a totally different route and grow using an aeroponic system like the Tower Garden. These ready made systems fit snuggly in a corner and allow you to grow many food items in a fraction of the time.
Have you ever grown flowers around your house in pots and other containers? Why not do the same for vegetables? Many foods grow great in containers, even fruit trees. There are many benefits to growing in a container, including utilizing small spaces, extending the normal growing season, and having the freedom to relocate your plants with ease. Many vegetables can grow vertically from a pot, like cucumbers, tomatoes, peas and beans. Just prop up a trellis or put them close to a fence to guide their way.
Did you know you could grow potatoes, broccoli, peppers, swiss chard and even corn in containers? There is an incredible wealth of books with deeper tips for growing vegetables in containers. Take this opportunity to take a trip to your local library and learn with the kids!
Only Have Partial Shade? No problem!
If your balcony, patio, or front entrance has partial shade, rest assured that you can still grow plenty of vegetables. As a general rule, if you are growing for the leaf, you are ok with only 3-6 hours of sun a day. Some vegetables that grow great in partial sunlight (and in containers) are beans, kale, swiss chard, salad greens, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and beets. Don’t forget to create a trellis for your beans and peas so they can grow vertically and save you more space.
Do you have a garden with out land? What are you favorite tips and tricks for growing vegetables when you are short on space? Please share your tips in the comment section!
Keep in mind that if you live in a complex with a Homeowner’s Association, it’s good to be sure to confirm that you are able to expand your garden on your patio or open space.