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by Carole Schwalm Lemons growing on trees in large white containers.

Or, the Apartment, Patio or Small Space Garden

Yes, you can garden in a small postage stamp-size space. The operative word is “container.” The added advantage is the attainment of privacy, besides the ability to relax, create and tend to lots of lovely, living, growing edible things.

Plan your garden, even if it is just the teeniest of spaces. In this way you’ll enjoy a long and productive season. You can grow lettuce. Peas and pole beans (and cucumbers) vine and can be grown up (with the privacy bonus if you‘ve got a not-so-lovely view). When planning, always put the tallest plants in the rear because they tend to block sunlight, and they form a nice backdrop that way.

Plants growing inside a pair of old shoes. Planter Boxes

Planter boxes come in all sizes, shapes and etc., like geometric shapes. You can add legs, utilizing storage room underneath as well as putting plants at eye level.

Dirt is heavy, just in case you have a rather delicate foundation on a balcony or deck. You can use a larger planter, just lessen the dirt depth in some way: add wood-type shelving to raise level of the dirt for example. Planters for vegetables should be at least 18 to 20 inches deep.

Wood is a very natural material for planter boxes. Redwood or cypress is a durable wood. If you use another type of wood, treat with a wood preservative.

Visit our articles on Container Gardening Basics, Container Gardening and Container Plants for more information on container gardening.

Containers in General

There are all types. You can use different sizes, for instance in corners. Grow in flue tiles, strawberry jars, hanging planters. Containers are movable. You can position the plants in areas where they have optimum conditions, even through the season if necessary.

A garden trowel buried part way into the soil of a container plant. It is important to keep depth in mind. Onions and herbs need 6-8" of depth. You need five-gallon containers for tomatoes, peppers and eggplants allow enough room for root growth. Also, you need drainage (think about who or what is underneath you and water at appropriate times, like not when a couple might be enjoying dinner on the balcony).

Sun Exposure

Both flowers and vegetables need at least three to four hours of sunlight a day. Monitor how much sunlight you have before you invest and/or plant. This helps you decide what to buy or which seeds to plants. Annuals, herbs and vegetables resonate with morning sun and the best is a southern exposure. (Good growth for vegetables means almost all-day sun when possible). Perennials and trees grow best in afternoon. There are shade loving varieties.

For low sunlight: lettuce and greens, spinach and parsley. Radishes, turnips and onions deal with shade. Sun-lovers are generally your fruit bearers like: cucumbers, eggplant, peppers and tomatoes.

Close up image of home grown lettuce. The Outdoor Garden

If gardening in a housing development yard, bear in mind that the builder may have stripped the topsoil and driven heavy equipment over the soil. Even worst, some builders dump waste materials in the building process and it seeps into the soil. In other words, you could have barren ground and you need topsoil. (A 10’ x 20’ area needs 10-12 yards of topsoil).

Small space? ¼ of an acre, with good planning, produces enough for the average family of up to six people through the year.

Never let space sit empty. Sow, sow and sow to reap, reap, reap. Take advantage of cool weather crops. Many are done, before it is time to think tomatoes and cucumbers.

Free Your Inner Gardener

Contemplate what you can do with a small space.

Share your patio gardening experience or if you'd like more information.