During this time of social distancing, put down some roots and grow where you are. We mean that literally! One thing to do while at home is growing your own vegetable garden and other green spaces in your home.
Don’t think you need an entire yard for a garden. With the right set up, even the most limited outdoor space can be used to craft a veggie garden. Or, you can grow entirely inside. This post focuses on how to start your garden, assuming you have limited space.
Take advantage of outdoor space
Now that Spring has well and truly arrived, people across North America can all plan their Spring and early summer gardens. How do you start a garden, however, if you don’t have any soil to dig into? Fortunately, you don’t need a backyard garden bed.
Instead, utilize boxes! These generally come in two sizes—6 inch depths and 12 inch depths. This means that, yes! you can plant veggies in them! Boxes can be attached under a window, but can also be mounted over a porch or balcony railing, or even set down on the ground where you can’t dig.
In shallower boxes, plant leafy greens like lettuce and microgreens, along with radishes and peppers. In deeper boxes you can grow onions, tomatoes, and even carrots. When shopping for seeds, a tip from HGTV is to look for miniature varieties that will have a smaller root network.
Planting in boxes does require that you make adjustments to how you take care of your garden. Boxes will be exposed to warmer air and won’t have the surface area to diffuse heat as well. This translates into needing to water your plants more often to prevent them from becoming too dry. Some vegetables and fruits like tomatoes require a good amount of water to grow.
In addition, make sure your box has drainage holes, which are important for all plants, but especially for vegetables. Using a soil mix will also help your plants, as these include additives that help absorb excess water and prevent root rot. Finally, don’t over plant your boxes. You might prefer the look of it, but in a box, root space is at a premium.
No outdoor space? Not to worry
Even if you have no viable space for an outdoor garden, having an indoor vegetable garden is still possible using the same box technique but with some added tools (you can also grow indoors during the winter months like this).
Unless your home is blessed with an excess of natural sunlight, chances are, you will have to supplement your indoor garden with grow lights. This is because plants that produce edible fruits or vegetables require more energy from the sun to flower and grow produce. Not every plant, however, grows under artificial light.
Greens do some of the best under artificial indoors lights. This includes lettuce, spinach, and kale, but also includes bok choy and microgreens. You can even grow small varieties of beets and carrots. For more of a kick in your cooking, consider planting radishes and green onions.
Plant Natural recommends HID light bulbs for the best results, but these can be a budget-buster and tough on your electricity bill. For a cheaper option, compact fluorescent lights are ideal, because they’re still bright but are smaller and generate less excess heat than other options. For the ultimate budget option, go with incandescent lights that can be purchased at any hardware store.
We haven’t mentioned them yet, and that’s because we wanted to save them for their own section! Herbs are some of the easiest things to grow under less-than ideal conditions because of how big of a variety there is! There are herbs to grow if you have a little or a lot of space, and if you have a lot of natural light or live in the shade.
Herbs that can stay hot include rosemary, thyme, sage, and lavender (these are indigenous to the Mediterranean). Parsley, dill, and chamomile, on the other hand, are hardier and can start living outside as early as March, when winter months and frost dates are over. Herbs like mint and chives can grow nearly everywhere—but they can quickly become invasive, which means they might be the perfect herbs to grow in a container away from other plants.
The most important factor in planting herbs is proper drainage. Again, it’s best to use potting mix that has some organic component to it and bigger particles to create air pockets where roots can grow.
Does this make your green thumb itch? Remember that no matter how small your garden starts, everything begins with a tiny seed. So never be afraid to start small!