Growing A Garden In A Small Space

Tomatoes and Cucumber Harvest

This is the year that I am finally going to grow my own garden and you can too, even if you have a small space to work with! My kids are at the ages now where I can spend more time working outside which is a passion of mine. Unfortunately, my property is not quite ready for my garden, so most of my gardening will have to be based around containers and hanging baskets.

While thinking about what I’m going to grow, I also have to consider where I am going to grow them! Over the years, I have seen many innovative and creative ways that you can grow a flourishing garden without digging a hole in the ground. These ideas got me thinking about how they could be used to grow a garden in a small space.

I’ve lost count a long time ago how many times I’ve heard, ‘I don’t have the space for a garden’, or ‘I live in an apartment, I can’t grow a garden’. With the exception of individuals who have balconies that get absolutely no sunlight, this is not true! Adopting the ideas of going vertical, and hanging plants such as tomatoes and strawberries can turn that small space into a beautiful, abundant vegetable garden!

Vegetable Garden Ideas For Small Spaces
Shoe Organizer
Shoe Organizer

Picture via instructables.com

One of my favourite trends that I have seen is using a shoe organizer to grow vegetables and herbs. I think this idea is brilliant, it gives you the ability to grow multiple varieties of plants and you can just hang it on a wall or a fence, or even a balcony! I have seen cloth hanging shoe organizers online in the $10.00 to $20.00 range, you could even find one at Goodwill if you are lucky. This vertical method is best used for growing herbs and plants such as lettuce and kale that can be confined to a smaller growing area.

I do recommend that if you are going to use this on a balcony that you place a container underneath to catch the drips when watering, your neighbours below would appreciate that. I am excited to do this, I already have the organizer and a good wall on my garden shed. I want to get a lot done on my property this summer so having this on the wall will keep it out-of-the-way leaving more room for my other ideas.

fixed pots gardening

Fixed Pots

If you have a small backyard with a fence or garden shed you can attach some pots/containers directly to the fence or shed. Using single containers you have the ability to use different pot sizes and can allow more spacing between plants, which means more plant options. Some bigger pots on the ground along the fence line could be planted with carrots, kohlrabi, tomatoes, peppers, etc. I am giving my wall space to the organizer but I do have a small area of patios stones in the backyard that will one day be made into a nice sitting area, for now it will serve as an area for multiple container plants.

Hanging Plants

Topsy Turvey Tomato Planter 2

Most people typically think of flowers when they think of a hanging basket, but there are multiple plants including tomatoes, peppers, beans, and strawberries, zucchini, and cucumbers, that can be grown this way. I have picked up a few of the ‘As seen on TV Topsy Turvy’  from the dollar store for $2.00 each. I have seen success with this product. I will let you all know what I think of it, I’m going to try it with tomatoes and zucchini this summer. I have a long porch and it will be lined with strawberry hanging baskets this year, I’m looking forward to those. You can purchase a hanging basket stand at your local garden centre which allows you to hang multiple pots if you have no place to hang them.

Garden Wall Bags

Wall Bags

I would like to shake hands with the person who originally thought of these! This is a great way to turn a small space into a vegetable haven. Among many plants tomatoes, peppers and strawberries can be grown in them. I’ve found a website for DIY Walls Bags which shows a quick, affordable, budget friendly way to make your own. When filling the bags with potting soil, it is very important that they are firmly packed full, the soil needs to settle firmly when watered through with no gaps, to ensure full root coverage.

Tips For Container Gardening
  • Make sure any container you use has a drainage hole and avoid recycled plastic containers (ex. margarine container) in the sun, as the plastic will deteriorate,
  • Choose a good quality potting mix, I would avoid the dollar store bags.
  • Never use garden soil or ‘dirt’. It will not drain properly and makes the containers extremely heavy
  • Fertilize often, plants need food!
  • Watering will be required more often than in a traditional garden, it’s better to give a plant more water once then a little water here and there. Most, but not all plants like to dry out slightly (not bone dry) in between waterings, you need to avoid over and underwatering but always watering thoroughly!

Climate will always be a factor in which plants you are able to grow, but do not feel restricted due to space and remember that realistically not all garden plants can be grown in small spaces. It’s important to use trial and error and over time you will know exactly what you can and can’t grow. Be creative, make efficient use of that small space, and enjoy watching your garden grow! Keep your eyes out here at Canadian Budget Binder this summer as I look forward to sharing the results of my garden with all of you!

Editors Note: Thanks Katrina for a very informative post about organic gardening in small spaces which a few CBB fans have asked me about. Katrina will be working alongside me this summer sharing her expertise and passion for nature, beauty, landscaping and gardening. If you missed her first post here at CBB about how she turned her passion and skills into making extra money give it a read. It’s a very inspirational story about a woman who sets out to follow her passion in life, gardening. If you have any topics you would like Katrina to blog about or questions for her simply email her at canadianbudgetbinder [at]  yahoo dot [ca]

Post Contribution By: Katrina is a horticulture graduate with over 10 years experience with landscaping and greenhouse production. Her goal is to share her knowledge and experiences through blogging in hopes of helping others realize their gardening abilities.While being a single mom of two and working in a sales and marketing position, Katrina runs her own Landscaping Services in Southwestern Ontario.

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Photo: Tomato Cucumber Harvest via 123RF

Mr. CBB
I’m from the UK and now a recent permanent resident in Canada. I bought my first house at the age of 21 after University then my second at the age of 24. I’ve always been fascinated with personal finance, savings, learning to make money and watch it grow while combating debts along the way. Canadian Budget Binder is a place where I get to share my experiences with personal finance and learn about yours along the way. I hope you stick around and check me out on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest where I am active on all social media sites. Cheers, Mr.CBB
Mr. CBB
Mr. CBB

Comments

  1. Jacob@CashCowCouple says:

    Great post. My wife and I will probably use a couple of these ideas when we move in a few months.

    I bought my dad the Topsy Turvy for $0.99 and I think he is having success with tomatoes. Seems like a decent puchase…

    • It’s worth a shot, right mate? There are so many people that have a green thumb but not the space so Katrina has some pretty cool ideas here that I never even thought of. Let me know how your garden goes. I would love to see pictures down the road. Hook up on FB! Cheers Jacob!

    • Katrina B says:

      Good luck with them Jacob! Come back and let us know how it’s going!

  2. Great tips! We ran into this when we rented, but it just requires you to be a little more creative when it comes to growing things. We would use containers as much as we could and had to be selective in what we grew.

    • Katrina B says:

      Thanks John for sharing, I’m hoping more people will find creative ways to use the space they have. :)

  3. We definitely want to grow a garden this year. Great ideas!

  4. those are great ideas to save space! in my small UK flat we had tomatoes at the window instead of flower plants, they grew up to make a nice green curtain and smelled delicious!

    • Tomatoes smell amazing when they are organic.. omg and they taste so good, especially with fresh basil, garlic, olive oil and a dash of salt, pepper and lime… mmmmm

    • Katrina B says:

      Thanks for reading the post and good luck with adapting some them into your small space. Let us know how your gardening does this year :)

  5. Thanks Katrina! I am saving the post to refer back to… there’s great information here!!

  6. If you have more space, these are an inexpensive option: http://ana-white.com/2010/05/hack-natural-rustic-cedar-raised-beds.html

    • Katrina B says:

      Thanks for sharing the tip! Raised beds can made out of several materials, kijjij is a great place to find left over buildings materials that people are looking to get rid of :)

  7. jberretta says:

    I just stopped renting a house with a huge backyard where i built a garden to a small apartment with a patio that gets very little sunlight so I’m curious if I can use any of these methods to get my tomatoes back!

    • Katrina B says:

      how little sun does your balcony get? Tomatoes are pretty resilient plants, they love the heat, water and fertilizer. A few hours a day may be enough, its worth a try!

  8. Love the shoe organizer idea!

  9. There are many ways to start a garden. The issue that my wife and I have is dealing with our dogs that love to eat everything we have in the garden. I built a fence and they would just jump over it. Very annoying. I don’t know if we are going to do one this year.

    • Katrina B says:

      Our dogs don’t care for vegetables thankfully but I have read that red pepper flakes, you can buy in bulk, spread around the garden will give the dogs the same reaction it would to us, sneezing and watery eyes. Maybe they’d learn not to go over there? It might keep even more critters than just your dog away

  10. We’re doing raised beds in our yard, pretty flippin’ excited about this. Except….probably not this year, because won’t be happening until like May….hmmm…tomatoes?

    • Katrina B says:

      How about some cool weather crops, broccoli, kale, spinach, bush peas, carrots? They can be planted in the summer and will give you some nice fall veggies?

  11. AverageJoe says:

    Our wall bags did horribly last year! We’re trying again this year, though. Hopefully my “black thumb” doesn’t kill some more plants….

    • Katrina B says:

      What did you plant last year? Maybe trying something different this year. Always remember to make sure that when you fill the bags that the soil is getting into every nook and cranny, the roots of all the plants need full root coverage

  12. I’m a big fan of growing lots of little crops with short growing times, together with a few pots of perennial herbs. Right now I have annual herbs growing indoors, as well as a new crop of pea shoots (just started) and I’m experimenting with growing radishes and baby carrots in pots too. Salad greens – as shown in many of the links – are perfect small space crops: quick growing, shallow rooted, and often not requiring full sun.

    I’ve just been given a small corner of space in which to grow potatoes. I’ll be planting the spuds in the ground, then building a wire cage around them. As the spuds’ green stalks continue to grow upward, I’ll fill in the wire cage with soil, maximizing the number of potatoes each plant produces. To make best use of the space, I’ll plant peas around the outside of each cage. The vines will use the wire for support, and the pea stalks will help the soil inside the cage to stay in place.

    • Katrina B says:

      Beth I would love to hear how your radishes work out! I was considering growing some this year. As soon as you said you put wire around the potatoes I was wondering how the soil would stay in lol….brilliant idea and amazing use of space! I will be making note of this!

  13. I had no idea there were so many different ways of growing vegetables when you don`t have much space. This really got me thinking! Maybe I could do something similar!

    • Katrina B says:

      I`m positive you can! Look for things you already have around your place to use, the possibilites are endless, if it can hold soil and water and has drainage or can have a hole put in it, it has the potential use to grow your veggies

  14. Christine Weadick says:

    Terrific article Katrina!!!! The younger son and I were thinking of planting scarlet runner beans in hanging pots and just letting them hang down. The driveway side of the house faces south. He’ll have his little dishpans out come the warm weather to collect rainwater for the plants inside like the lime plant we got him last year for his birthday. It spent the winter in the enclosed front porch blooming like crazy but so far only one lime. It is looking like it’s setting some more fruit so we shall see how many we get this year. He’s tried growing a lemon plant, some petunias and a couple apple trees from seed on his window ledge since last spring. The petunias are looking rough and we’re not sure about the baby trees. Guess we’ll have to see what happens now that spring is here… I need to do some work in the back raised beds once things are warm and dry enough to work there…..

    • Katrina B says:

      That’s great Christine that your son is interested in gardening!! It sounds like you have a good plan with the beans, good location too. My porch also faces south and I am planning to hang 6-8 hangers, strawberries , tomatoes, and peppers. They will be my decorative hangers lol. I`m getting the itch to work outside, I hope it warms up and drys up soon! :)

  15. Virginia says:

    This is a post from my friend’s blog that she started when she was living in an apartment. I plan on building one of these EarthBoxes this summer. http://thesuburbangarden.com/2009/04/30/how-to-make-an-earthbox-diy/ There is a similar version on YouTube. The real version is 80$, I’ll make my own thanks.

  16. Mr CBB it’s like you’ve read my mind. I bought some little pots this week and the game plan is to do something like this: http://ext.homedepot.com/community/blog/diy-project-space-saving-herb-garden/ in our front yard. But we’ll use low water flowers and ferns like orchids, bromeliads, and tiny ferns and have more coverage. It’s going to be mostly decorative, but if it works, I’ll definitely start converting some of the herbs in the back to a similar strategy.

  17. Those are some great ideas! I’m sending this article to my wife, she can probably use some of them in our small greenhouse during the winter. Thanks!

  18. studentdebtsurvivor says:

    Love that shoe organizer idea. We’re thinking of planting some plants in pots (or maybe a shoe organizer) on our roof this summer.

  19. There really is no excuse. I should learn to garden. Some of those container ideas are really pretty ingenious.

  20. Joanna Cheevers says:

    What great ideas. I just have a small garden and was wondering on ways I could grow more, I may just have to use some of these. I am really going to enjoy following this series as well as your gardening blog posts Mr. CBB. Thanks so much Katrina for the information.

  21. mycanuckbuck says:

    This is great – I am finally going to have a garden this year and I’m very excited!

  22. liliane2013 says:

    Great article and great ideas! I tried planting zucchini in a topsy turvy but these plants require lots of room to grow roots. I will try mine in an old garbage can along with potatoes in old blue boxes. I can’t wait to start my garden after reading this. :)

    • Katrina B says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience with the zucchini! How do you keep your potting soil costs down when filling garbage cans full?

  23. Wow that is so interesting! I never would have imagined using a shoe hanger as a garden in my wildest dreams! This inspires me!

  24. donna pierce says:

    I have lived in an apartment on the third floor. My balcony had boxes with tomatoes,peppers,herbs & lettuce. You can take the girl out of the country ,but you cant take the country out of the girl. I m a true believer if you have even two feet of space the sun reaches YOU can have a small garden. It’s in my blood. LOL

Trackbacks

  1. [...] the green thumbs, Canadian Budget Binder writes about growing a garden in a small space. I don’t know about you but there is something about growing your own food that makes me feel [...]

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