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Making Space

Updated: Nov 11, 2020

Space is not one of my concerns. I live in a rural area. I have more garden than I know what to do with. If I ever did manage to fill it completely, I could just chop down a few trees and keep on planting.

But lately I’ve been meeting more and more people wanting to grow food without space. People who live in food deserts and want fresh vegetables. Homeowners and renters wanting to replace the ornamental plants in their residential landscaping with edibles. Apartment dwellers who want to grow real food for themselves. So I thought I would post some ideas about urban and container gardening for anyone just starting out that wanted to give it a try.

First, look at the space you have and think creatively. Do you have a small strip of dirt by your door with hedges growing in it? Is there a patch of grass between your house or unit and the neighbors? If you own the house or condo, remove the hedges and replace them with edibles like blueberries in filtered sun, or a row of dwarf papaya and banana trees in full sun. Pineapple would grow great up against a house. If you rent, ask your landlord if you can change the landscaping. Plant food everywhere you have dirt.

Did your landlord say no? Do you have access to a flat roof, patio, balcony, or side yard? Then use containers. Get as many large pots as you can, fill them with organic potting soil and you are good to go. Take 5 gallon buckets, cut 2-3″ holes in the sides, fill them with dirt and hang them. Grow lettuce, herbs, and kale in the top opening, then plant cucumbers, tomatoes, or strawberries in the holes and let them grow downwards.  Plant small fruit trees like dwarf papaya, banana, and citrus in large pots, then plant herbs and greens around the base of the tree.

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Hang plants off roofs or railings, stack plants on shelving, use every inch you can spare. Hang mesh fabric reusable grocery bags filled with soil off balconies and use them to grow root vegetables like potatoes and carrots. Grapes and raspberries can be trellised to grow up walls. Place containers on the steps of an outdoor staircase and use the arm rail to trellis beans. If you have sun, there are few limits on what can be grown in containers. Even if your sun is limited, you can still grow herbs, greens, and lettuces.

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So if you are one of those people who would love to grow food but lack the space to do it, I encourage you to get creative. Don’t be limited by your space. You have more than you think. Start planning your garden today.

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