You don’t need a big garden space to grow your own food crops. Sure the more space you have, the more varieties and amounts harvested will be greater, but you can have something and something good in a small space – the answer – grow in pots and containers.
Especially for folks with small garden space available such as a balcony or courtyard, growing in pots is both viable, handy and a contribution to reducing your carbon footprint.
The added benefit is that what you grow will always taste better than what you buy at the local supermarket.
What can be grown in a pots?
- Fruit – there are many dwarf varieties available nowadays – e.g. citrus, apples, stone fruits.
- Herbs: in fact in may cases this is better than in a yard – pots stop them spreading (and some do – like weeds), and you can place them near your door for easy access from the kitchen when you are cooking. There is nothing better than using fresh basil when cooking your chicken – the aroma alone is worth it!
- Capsicums (bell peppers) – these can be very successfully container grown – e.g. I currently have two bushes in a pot which is 12″ x 12″ x 15″ (high). The plants are now 30″ high with both flowers and fruits forming – I expect at least a dozen capsicums from them – and this was just an experiment! They will act as perennials in frost free areas. Just cut then back after the autumn fruiting.
- Tomatoes – just choose a variety that is not tall and leggy. Look for ‘determinate’ varieties.
- Onions: I think they are worth the time.
- Strawberries: rediscover the real taste of these! Easy to grow!
- Chillies: I hate them – but others don’t! Easy to grow in a pot and fruit very well.
My main herbs
- dwarf rosemary
- and so on.
Pretty well most veggies will grow in a pot – but to be practical, some are obviously too big to waste time on as you won’t get enough to really make the effort worthwhile. So stick to smaller veggies. Spuds are OK though – fun to try.
Seedlings or seeds?
Either will do. If you want heirloom tomatoes – those are the ones whose seeds are viable and can be sown. Most supermarket ones are hybrids and won’t be fertile.
I recommend you Google Trudi Davidoff for ideas about seeds and how to get them.
Herbs: choose containers that will be big enough your plant when it fully grown About 8-17 inches in diameter is a good basic rule of thumb. The compact herbs are better in smaller pots. Ones like mint will need more space as they are quite vigorous.
Tomatoes, capsicums – well, try at least for pots 15 x 15 x 15.
Fruit trees – these will need even larger pots – 24 x 24 x 30 – as a minimum.
Water – will need more attention: try water crystals to help water retention.
Feeding – use organic fertilisers (high potash) – and more frequently than in a garden bed.
Remember that both water and nutrients will leach out more quickly than if the plants were in the ground.
Pests – use natural organic sprays (e.g. garlic based) – then your food will be safe.