Urban Natural Homes May 1, 2014

Small Space Gardening


Finally…’tis the season to get digging in the garden! We Seattleites love our gardens, but ‘gardening’ can mean different things to different people. Some of us may have huge yards or even acres to tend to, while others of us, especially urbanites living closer to the city core where land is scarce, may call our balcony, patio, or even rooftop deck our garden. This type of small space gardening can be just as satisfying—and even provide us with abundant produce—if we’re aware of a few key tips for gardening in containers and small spaces.

I recently spoke with Toni Cross of Seasonal Color Pots and she said that the number one factor to be aware of in small spaces such as balconies is the wind factor. Wind causes plants to lose moisture and ‘burn’ over time. She suggests focusing on plants with smaller leaves that are less likely to catch the wind and therefore less likely to get damaged (it makes total sense when you think about it—but I bet that wasn’t on the top of your list when you were going down the nursery aisle buying plants for your balcony!). She went on to say that plants in containers are essentially like perpetual infants in that they are never able to grow deep roots and are therefore never able to get anything, such as water and nutrients, on their own. It is up to you to take care of them. Initially they should be planted with good potting soil in a container that drains well. They will then need to be watered and fertilized more frequently than plants rooted in the ground. Finally, they will need to be constantly groomed for best results.

Picking the right plant for the right location is also vitally important. Be sure to read the plant care instructions for sun requirements: Partial sun? Full sun? Shade? And watch your gardening area for a full day to properly match it with the right plants. This is especially important if you are considering growing food crops in your small space garden. Tomatoes and peppers, for example, literally won’t produce fruit if they don’t get at least six hours of direct sunshine every day. Herbs can be one of the easiest, and most forgiving, of the food plants to grow—so consider herbs if you are new to growing your own produce. And if you are going to venture off into more ambitious adventures in produce growing, be sure to choose compact or dwarf varieties that will produce a lot in a little space. Finally, try utilizing vertical space in small space gardening by training vining varieties of tomatoes, beans and squash up trellises or stakes where they can hover above other plants. With these few tips in mind, your small space garden should be healthy and thriving all season long!

Toni Cross
Seasonal Color Pots