What if you desire to grow your own vegetables and herbs and you just do not know how that would be possible with limited time and space? Would small space gardening be viable?
Do you live in an apartment or a house with a small or nonexistent backyard?
There’s a solution: Container or bucket gardening. All you need are some 5-gallon size containers or buckets, some rocks, peat moss, planting soil, and compost. That might sound like a lot, but it’s actually very simple.
Not only is this type of gardening a great solution for people with limited space, but it also has many advantages over traditional gardening. You can have a greater variety of plants, you won’t have to do much if any weeding, and you’ll have fewer pests deal with.
If you decide to give it a try, the first thing you need to ask yourself what you’re going to grow. Beginners should always start with very easy plants. It will boost your confidence and give yourself some valuable practice before they move on to more difficult plants.
Small Space Gardening Plants
I will give you a list of some easy to grow small space garden vegetables and herbs so you may enjoy the homegrown freshness of your own garden and cut out the expensive grocery store trips for 3 teaspoons of chives.
You know that drill: buy a small container of the herb, use 3 teaspoons worth, then throw the rest away after they dry out in the fridge after a week or two.
Arugula isn’t a particularly well-known plant, but its sweet and spicy flowers along with its peppery leaves have made it a favorite among many gardeners. Best of all, arugula is quite easy to grow in a bucket, as it doesn’t require any more space than the average herb plant.
Any brassica can be grown in pots, but kale is the easiest since it doesn’t have to form anything other than nice fresh leaves. Kale can be grown throughout the year, but it tastes best after it has had a touch of frost.
Bok choi or sui choi are two fun cold-weather greens, perfect for an early spring start or a late fall and winter garden. These two greens are awesome in stir fry and are easy to grow. Once the weather warms up, these greens will bolt but the flower heads still taste good and can add a powerful spice punch to salads.
Chard is a leafy green from the same family as beets. It grows similar to lettuce, but it has a slightly longer growing season. It is cold hardy and can bolt if your summer is too hot. It is also a good double season crop for spring and fall. If you decide to grow beets, you could skip the chard since beet greens are nearly identical to chard.
Lettuce is a prime choice for container gardening with plenty of varieties to choose from. Lettuce works well in shallow containers, and if you want you can inter-plant it with slower growing veggies. Lettuce is great for early spring and late fall harvesting. You can plant lettuce while there is still the danger of frost, and plant again in the fall after it starts getting cool. You can even bring your lettuce pots indoors to extend the growing season into early winter.
Peppers come in many shapes, sizes, and flavors, giving you plenty of choices to choose from. As a shallow-rooted plant, peppers typically do quite well when grown in containers. Ultimately, the variety of pepper that you choose depends on how much heat you are looking for. Whichever variety you go with, though, you shouldn’t have any issues growing a healthy pepper plant in a 5-gallon bucket.
Herbs For Small Space Gardening
Before I get into the ‘little more difficult’ to grow vegetables, let me tell you a little bit about the growing of herbs. There really is nothing easier to grow than herbs. From basil to sage, if you enjoy cooking, fresh herbs are a must and should be homegrown.
An average size container can easily contain 3 to 5 plants of various herbs. There are no special requirements other than water, sunlight and some occasional fertilizer.
When you need those 3 teaspoons of fresh thyme, that’s all you need to cut off. The rest of the plant will be there weeks later when you need some more for another recipe.
Larger Vegetables For Containers
Let us get into some ‘meatier’ type vegetables for your small space gardening.
Beets are similar to chard, but they need deeper soil and more watering. Beets are an awesome root vegetable for containers. Choose smaller beet varieties, or heritage varieties to have the most fun in your container garden. If you’d rather not eat beets because of their overpowering red effects, you could try yellow or albino beets.
Broccoli feeds more heavily than many plants, meaning that it needs a little more space to grow than you might realize. However, a five-gallon bucket offers plenty of space for growing a single broccoli plant. The two broccoli varieties that do the best when grown in containers are DeCicco and green comet broccoli.
Easy to grow, and in a container, they are very easy to space out or even transplant to make sure they grow well. It would be wise to add a little sand to the potting mix so the carrots have an easier time growing.
Choose smaller varieties that do not grow a super long taproot and try to match the variety to the depth of the container you are using. Heritage varieties are often sweeter, and smaller than standard varieties. Try Dragon for a fun purple and brilliant orange carrot.
Onions are simple to grow and make a great addition to many recipes and salads. The only real difficulty that you may encounter with growing onions in a bucket is having enough space to grow a worthwhile amount of onions. With enough buckets, though, it’s fairly easy to grow a good amount of onions. Try out one of the candy hybrid varieties if you are looking for a sweeter, more flavorful onion to grow.
Quick to grow and a perfect spring crop to round out your green salads. Choose small short-season radishes so that they come to maturity before the heat hits. French Breakfast and Easter Egg are two brilliant colored small radish varieties that are awesome to grow if you have kids.
For container gardening, choose bush been varieties. They have a shorter grow time than pole beans and are compact enough for any yard. Most bush bean plants max outsize at a foot square and produce well throughout the season. If you have a porch railing and narrow containers at its foot, you could try some pole bean varieties as well.
Most cucumbers are vining plants, so either choose bush varieties for your container garden or practice vertical gardening and train them up the side of the house, porch, or deck. Lemon Cucumber is an awesome little bush cucumber and works well if you have a short season.
Probably the container planting go-to crop, tomatoes are ubiquitous in containers. Choose smaller plant varieties if your container garden space is limited. Cherry tomatoes are stunning producers, and the tiny tomatoes are easy to dry if the plants over-produce. Cherry tomatoes usually fruit sooner than the larger tomato varieties.
These are an awesome container plant, particularly if you get a strawberry tower or similar contraption to help maximize space. Grow everbearing for steady harvesting from July onward, or try a mixed planter of different varieties. If you get a variety with runners, you can also catch the runners in small pots and perpetuate your supply of strawberry plants. A strawberry plant usually has a productive life of three or four years.
Is Small Space Gardening Difficult?
Not at all.
Granted, there is a learning curve. Write things down. Keep a record of what worked and what did not.
The results will be extremely satisfying.