Gardening with limited space? Even if you don’t practice urban gardening, most gardeners can use tips to maximize the space they have.
While I enjoy a large garden with plenty of space, Kevin Espritu of Epic Gardening understands the challenges of gardening in a small area. That’s what compelled him to write a book full of tips and how-to’s for gardeners in small spaces, Field Guide to Urban Gardening.
In this episode of the Beginner’s Garden Podcast and in the post below, he shares how he started gardening in his small space.
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Kevin started gardening while living in a small townhouse. He only had his front yard to start growing food. He also had the opportunity to work with Mel Bartholomew, author of Square Food Gardening. These experiences have impacted how he thinks about gardening, especially in an urban environment.
Consider Your Light
Light is one of the most important influences on your garden. Before you start growing anything, you need to audit your light sources. This will change at different times of the year and there are helpful apps like SunCalc that help understand where the sun will be through the year.
Consider Zoning Regulations
This applies to many HOAs in many areas. Some need to be creative to only plant edibles crops that look decorative. Some allow edibles for personal consumption but not if you plan to sell at a Farmer’s Market. Make sure to check with your HOA if you have one before you plan your garden.
Foodscaping is popular for urban gardeners, especially those with HOA regulations where their edibles are restricted. Since potatoes grow underground, their foliage looks like most other plants. You can look at what would normally be in an ornamental garden and replace that with an edible that will look similar.
Container Gardening in Small Spaces
It can be so fun to think outside the box when it comes to what containers you can use in your garden. It is great to test new ideas and see what works and what doesn’t. Repurposing in the garden can be wonderful, but some Pinterest popular ideas don’t actually work in the garden. For example, starting seeds in an egg carton and planting the seedling with the carton doesn’t work as well as some might think.
Related: Kevin shares common seed-starting mistakes here.
We have all seen the cute pictures with creative containers that look so great. The reality is that many of them just aren’t functional. You want to think about the heat, drainage, and how the plant will grow when choosing a container. Think about the size and the material. Don’t forget to mulch even your container garden!
Fertilizing can be important in a container garden. Organic granules or fish fertilizer can be very helpful. Tomatoes are heavy feeders and may need more fertilizer than greens that won’t need as much. Know what you’re growing and what that plant needs.
Most of the time, a window box on the balcony railing is your best option. If you’re not allowed to have anything over the railing, flip it so the plants grow on the inside. You could grow some climbing plants right next to the balcony wall. You could even hang some plants from the ceiling!
Hydroponics is growing plants in water with a nutrient solution. Instead of soil, water is your growing medium. Many people who can’t grow in soil are drawn to hydroponics. It is a great way to learn what plants actually need and experiment with your crops.
I hope you’ve learned a lot about urban gardening and all of its possibilities. If you’re ready to dig a little deeper, or take your first step, make sure to check out Kevin Espiritu’s book Field Guide to Urban Gardening. What is one new way that you can think of gardening in your space?
Check out the other books in this Gardening Books for Beginner’s Series:
The AutoPilot Garden with Luke Marion of MI Gardener
Organic Gardening for Everyone by CaliKim
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