Thursday, May 29, 2014

Small Space Container Gardening

I hear people all the time saying, "Oh, if only I had a bigger yard, I could plant a garden! Well I have an 8'x16' deck, and I garden. And when people hear how MUCH I garden, their jaw drops. Let me take you for a walk around my space.

As you walk out the door, in the NorthEast corner, I have a row of heirloom Little Finger carrots and 8 heirloom Omaha pumpkins. The pumpkins, when they come up, will be supported by slings made from worn-out tee shirts and while they won't win any prizes for size, (they average 3-5 pounds each) these come highly recommended for pies! In front of that, are my herbs: two types of basil, oregano, 3 lemonbalm plants, lemon thyme, sage, marigolds, and alyssum.

The blue bins last about 5 years before cracking and needing replacing, and I find them at Target for about $5 during end-of-season sales. The orange planter is one I've had for over 10 years now, and the three black bins are actually cement-mixing tubs from the hardware store that cost about $10 each. Mine have held up through more than 20 Minnesota winters, and are still going strong!

Across from the first area, in the NorthWest corner I have heirloom Early Silver Line melons in the blue bin, (these too will have "slings" once the melons arrive) more carrots in the orange planter, and the cement bins hold mesclun leaf lettuces and heirloom Santa Fe hot peppers. The lettuce will be replanted twice before the weather gets too cold, so we'll actually get multiple harvests of salad greens.

Running down the West side, are six 18-gallon Sterilite storage-bins. Each bin holds two tomato plants, so I've got 6 heirloom Purple Bumble Bee cherry, 6 heirloom Vorlon tomato plants.

In the SouthWest corner, tucked behind my vintage bistro table, are heirloom Purple Podded pole-beans, more pots for carrots, (they will be stagger-planted next week, so we have at LEAST two carrot-harvests) and our chocolate mint in the strawberry pots.

And in the SouthEast corner are heirloom Dragon's Egg cucumbers, and chive.

All of my fruits and vegetables are grown from heirloom organic seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom seeds. My herbs are transplanted from family & friends, and purchased locally. 

It may be a small space, but I'm always surprised at how large our harvests are! Last year we were giving away hot peppers and lettuce, and we NEVER ran out of herbs! I'm still trying to find a way of keeping the squirrels from running off with all our tomatoes and cucumbers, but we've got a few ideas this year.

I look at our garden, and I am constantly reminded
that I CAN have what I want, even if it's a vegetable garden in a neighborhood with toxic soil. It's not about what I DON'T have, it's about how creative I can get with what I DO have that counts!

Here I am, trailersteading in a major urban area, with an organic container garden oasis just outside my dining room door. If I can do it here, just think of what YOU can do with YOUR space!

(Update: I'm noticing a TON of traffic to this post from Pinterest! If you're interested, please check out THIS YEAR'S garden updates as well!!!) 


Anonymous said...

How do you keep the squirrels from eating & digging your plants? I rarely get to eat anything before the squirrels help themselves!

michele mckune said...

This is pretty great and practical! I am wondering if you have drainage holes in the containers?

Mama Housemouse said...

Hi, Michele!

Yes, I have drainage holes in all my containers. I used my husband's power drill and a 1" paddle bit to put holes every 6" or so. To keep the soil from washing right out the holes, I placed a single paper coffee filter over each hole before filling the container!

The coffee filters have lasted 6 years so far, without needing to be replaced, even after our spring rainy season!

Anonymous said...

You are one creative Mama! I have a brown thumb, but being able to grow my own food fascinates me. I wish I had known about the coffee filters this morning. It would have solved a problem for me. It'll be useful with another project I'm thinking about though. Thanks!

Mama Housemouse said...

Thank you so very much!

Sure hope your adventures with coffee filters turn out well! They've worked exceptionally well for me!

Dena Bower said...

Interesting. I am wondering if there would be any leaching of plastics from the containers into the soil and plants ?? Besides GMO's, I am interested in limiting chemicals from plastics in my food supply. Thanks.

Mama Housemouse said...

Hi, Dena! I'm guessing that yes, there could be some leaching. I'm no professional, but it's dark plastic that's sitting out in the hot sun... sounds like a recipe for some plastic breakdown of some sort out another.

My bins were over twenty years old when I started using them for food. They were used before this to haul manure for my mother's garden. My feeling was that any leeching that was going to happen, should have happened long before I started gardening in them.