Intensive Vegetable Gardening In Small Spaces
August 13, 2012 by Peggy Layton
Are you interested in gardening, but you have limited space? Don’t despair; get creative. With imagination and determination, you can find ways to grow vegetables even in the smallest of spaces.
How To Grow Lettuce In A Rain Gutter
Plant salad greens in rain gutters. Rain gutters provide an ideal space for growing salad greens since lettuce, spinach and other greens have shallow root systems. Fall is the perfect time to plant because lettuce, spinach and salad greens love the cooler weather.
You can mount rain gutters the same way you would along the eves, on the side of your house, shed or any other building, on the side of a fence, along a deck railing or under a windowsill as a small planter. All you have to do is cut the rain gutter to size, cap the ends and drill holes for drainage. You can purchase the supplies to hang them at the same place you buy the rain gutters.
- Rain gutter, any length you desire
- Rain gutter caps (2 per length)
- Rain gutter hangers (3-5 per length) mount every 3 feet
- Drill and 1/8 inch drill bit
- Place the length of rain gutter that you desire on a work surface. Clip one rain gutter cap on each end and lock them into place.
- Turn the rain gutter upside down on a workbench. Drill 1/8-inch-diameter holes through the rain gutter every 6 inches along the entire length. The holes will allow the rain gutters to drain.
- Position the rain gutter hangers along the surface where you want to hang the gutter every 3 to 4 feet. Drive the included screws through the mounting holes in the hangers into the surface with a screw gun to fasten them in place. Slide the gutter into the hangers to lock it into place.
- Add potting soil to the gutter and fill it up so that it is level with the top edges of the rain gutter.
- Water the soil with a watering can filled with water. With your finger make a furrow in the center of the soil down the length of the gutter. Plant the lettuce seeds into the furrow, planting approximately 20 seeds per foot. Cover over the seeds with potting soil and gently pack it down with your fingertips.
- Water the lettuce often as it grows, keeping the soil moist at all times.
Cinderblock Herb Garden
If you live in a place that has limited space for a garden and you want to try your green thumb, this cinderblock herb garden might be the answer for you. It doesn’t take up much space and can be a creative project along the side of a building or home.
Design the cinderblocks in a way that you will get the maximum amount of growing space. Fill each hole with potting soil and plant your favorite herbs in each open block of soil.
Cinderblocks come in many decorative styles can be purchased at places such as Lowe’s, Home Depot or any outdoor garden store where they sell brick and block. You can get started now and have a fall crop.
Pallets can be recycled and used in a whole new way. Simply find a place to put a pallet and fill it with potting soil. Use the wood openings to plant in. You can grow your salad greens in a small amount of space, and it is a good way to recycle old pallets.
Window Herb Garden
A fresh herb garden can be grown outside a window in any home or apartment. Anytime you want fresh herbs, just open the window and cut them. This type of herb garden can be easily watered and maintained. Each year, it can be taken down and replanted, or it can be moved to the inside of the house in the colder months. It is very nice to have fresh herbs year-round.
Starting Seedlings In 2-Liter Soda Bottles
Save your 2-liter bottles and cut them so the top half fits down into the bottom half. Drill a hole through the center of the lid of the bottle. Put string or wick through the hole and tie it so it will absorb the water from the bottom of the soda bottle. Fill the bottom of the bottle with water. Invert the top of the bottle and fill it with potting soil. Plant your seeds in the bottles and watch them grow. Keep enough water in the bottom of the soda bottle so it will water itself.
Old-Window Hot Houses
These easy-to-make old-window hot houses can be made from recycled materials. Collect old windows, place hinges at the top so when you are finished with the windows you can fold them up, and save them for the next spring. Secure them inside a raised bed in the shape of a tepee. These windows warm the soil and keep the plants from freezing on cold mornings. It gives vegetables a head start in the springtime.
Make Your Own Handy Potting Soil Scoop
A handy potting soil scoop can be made from a half-gallon milk jug. Just trace the design you want and cut it out with scissors or a utility knife.
Use Tires And Culverts As Composting Bins
The tires can be used as a compost bin by simply cutting the sidewall completely out of the tire. This is done with a very sharp utility knife or a chainsaw.
Turn the soil under the first tire before you place it on the ground. Once placed, fill it with kitchen waste and other organic compost materials. When the first tire is full, add another tire on top of it and proceed to fill it up. And keep doing this until you have four or five tires full of composting material stacked on top of each other.
To rotate the composting material, simply take the first tire off and place it on the ground. Dig out the organic compost material and put it back in the tire. One by one, turn over the composting material and fill the tires back up, stacking them on top of each other until the bottom tire is now on the top of the pile. When you want to use the compost, take the tires apart and use the organic material to mix with other soil. When the compost is all used up, start the process over again.
This same process can be used with the culvert plastic water pipe. Each piece must be cut with a heavy-duty saw or a chain saw to make them the right height (about 2.5 to 3 feet tall).
ION (Stabilized Oxygen) Can Be Used For Soaking Vegetables
ION is such a versatile product. I like to use 20 drops of ION mixed with 1 gallon of water for soaking my vegetables. ION will kill any harmful bacteria that might be on the vegetables. Just mix it up in a large bowl and soak the vegetables for about 20 minutes, then rinse them well.
I also use ION to water my plants. I mix 20 drops of ION with 1 gallon of water. It kills anaerobic bacteria, fungus and some viruses that might be causing the plants to deteriorate and not be as healthy as they should be. ION will help build the friendly flora, and it oxygenates the plants. Vegetables will grow so much better with stabilized oxygen in the water.
There are several chapters on alternative gardening methods in my book Emergency Food Storage and Survival Handbook. Check it out here.