Do you have a tiny garden space? What do you have growing there? Is it a small but perfectly formed oasis?
It always amazes me how much and how many things can be grown in a small space. As Kiwis, we're used to having a lot of space when compared with our overseas counterparts. Are you of an age to remember when the quarter acre section was the norm and most people had space to have a decent size vegetable garden plus fruit trees?
As our housing style changes, particularly in the cities, apartments are becoming a part of our lifestyle and quite often have balconies, patios or rooftop gardens.
As our population ages, more and more retirement villages are being built requiring an adjustment in the outdoor space available. Residential villages have small but useful gardens, small courtyards or patio gardens.
These smaller garden spaces require some creativity to ensure you get the most out of your garden. In many cases, your garden only needs to feed 1 or 2 rather than a large family now. Adjusting to only planting a few of each variety can be a challenge and your favourites become a little more obvious. Vertical growing space (read a previous blog on this) is a great idea and growing more in containers that can be placed around the space that isn't existing garden.
Fit in as much and as many different things as you can into your small space. The suggestions are endless:
Stacked wooden planter
Large tamarillo plant
Mushrooms in a dark corner
Quail in a small pen
Upside down tomato in a galvanised bucket
Black poly bags
Miniature fruit trees
Drink bottle watering system.....
All of these things exist in one tiny balcony garden.
Small tiered rock wall garden
Lettuces in long containers against the fence
Hanging baskets of flowers & tomatoes
Espaliered apple or pear tree
Citrus trees in large pots with flowers around the bottom
Small rock water feature with goldfish and rock garden plants
Tomato sack garden
Pepper and eggplants against a rock wall to utilise the heat of the sun.
All of these things exist in a small patio garden.
If you had 4 square metres..........
Turn it into a garden and grow the following from the small square outwards:
A tomato that provides bang for your buck eg. Suncherry, or a runner bean or pea.
Three varieties of Basil (genovese giant is good for pesto) and a dwarf tomato.
Chives & a cucumber (Lebanese or Diva) to trail around the outer space or over the edges.
What are the best varieties to grow in small spaces?
Dwarf plants, especially ones that can be grown in containers are a definite consideration. Check out our category for mini vegetables or use the search box for looking up varieties suitable for containers by entering the word 'container'. Your containers may also be grow bags or similar that can be easily swapped out each year for fresh ones.
If you do like growing taller tomatoes, runner beans or sunflowers your trellis space will be minimal but still a possibility. Setting up a cane teepee in a pot or some other climbing apparatus will provide you with a tall but compact option.
Hanging varieties can be grown in baskets, tiered arrangements, wall attachments such as gutter or pocket gardens.
- If space is limited, choose crops which you love to eat and which are expensive to buy in the shops.
- Avoid growing crops that take up a large amount of space (such as asparagus) or take months to grow (such as pumpkins or parsnips).
- Grow fast-growing crops (such as lettuce, radish and beetroot) around the base of larger plants (such as potatoes and tomatoes).
- Have seedlings of crops on standby to go straight into the soil once you have harvested the previous crop.
Let your only limitation be your imagination!