Thursday, April 27, 2017

Gardening in Small Spaces

With the weather improving daily, condo and apartment dwellers’ thoughts are turning more and more to the great outdoors.  Spring and summer can bring new life to your rental with the reintroduction of your outdoor space, and there is no better way to take advantage of that outdoor space than by keeping a little garden.  Gardening can be intimidating—it might feel as if you need a large plot of land, a tool shed, and a lot of know-how to make it worthwhile.  However, if you keep a few things in mind balcony and deck gardening is really rewarding. 

Why Garden?
Gardening is a powerful stress reliever.  Creating your own little oasis allows you to become better attuned to a more natural flow of life.  Nothing helps you forget about the hassles of urban life like raising plants from seed to flower, fruit, or vegetable.  Also, keeping plants on your balcony greatly helps your local bee population, who need all the help they can get these days.  But perhaps best of all, keeping your own garden gives you the chance to grow your own food.  There is nothing better than greens, herbs, tomatoes, peas, or beans from your own garden—fresh and free!

Getting Started
The first thing to keep in mind is to keep it simple.  If gardening is not enjoyable than it is not worth doing.  There is no need to run out and purchase hoards of supplies, instead use what you have on hand.  Gardening gives you a great chance to reuse your recyclables.   Old yogurt or cheese containers are perfect plant pots, as are old soup, tomato, or bean cans—be sure to puncture a few holes in the bottom for drainage.  An old eaves trough works perfectly to grow a row of lettuce greens or an herb garden in, and you can repurpose old buckets or tubs for root vegetables like carrots or fingerling potatoes.  After that, all you need is some potting soil, a pitcher or pint glass for watering, and an old soupspoon to help you transfer plants or dig up little weeds.     

Once your gardening space is set up, you need to get planting.  You can buy plants that have already been started for you from nurseries, grocery or corner stores, but a cheaper and more engaging option is to start your own plants from seed.  With a small bag of potting soil and some eggcups—old egg cartons work wonderfully—you can sprout your own plants.  You can start this process as early as late March (provided the seedlings get lots of window sun time), so your little seedlings are ready to be transferred outside when the nice weather arrives.  Growing plants from seed allows you to better curate your own garden, and to choose the varieties of food or flower you really want—including some really cool and flavourful heirloom varieties.

Keeping a garden is a wonderful way to enjoy your outdoor space, and to cut back on your food budget.  Happy Spring!

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