Written by Sharing Sustainable Solutions
My parents always had a large garden when I was growing up, so I am used to having plants and flowers around me all the time. So when I moved out into a small apartment, I filled it with as many plants as my roommates would allow. I say we have a better oxygen supply than most people do, and they say the plants just make our place seem more like home.
This year I was inspired by my parents blossoming garden, and I decided to start one of my own. But with a small balcony as my only spot of ?land,? I was faced with limited choices. I bought a few large plastic pots, soil, and a tomato and a green pepper plant. My total bill came to about $10.
I picked the hearty varieties because I assumed this whole garden idea might be harder than I thought. I transplanted the vegetables and set them on my balcony so they could get sun during the day. I watered them every day, and waited for the results.
Weeks went by, and I still didn’t have a single tomato or green pepper. The plants would flower, getting my hopes up, but then nothing would grow from them. Finally, one little tomato started to grow. I kept watering, hoping it would keep growing. But it only grew to the size of a cherry tomato. So in the end, I had paid $10 for one little tomato!
If you don’t have a lot of space like I did, or the soil in your area is poor, you may want to consider growing your garden in containers as an alternative form of gardening.
Containers can be put anywhere, and almost any container can be used. Here is a list of possible containers for your garden:
Hanging baskets, inside or outside
Egg cartons (to start seeds indoors)
Wheelbarrows, oil drums
Indoors, use bottles, pots or lids
Use any room in the house to grow plants
In emergency situations, seeds can grow in unusual areas:
In open sections between bricks and concrete
Along fences, river banks, or train tracks
Around storage sheds or boulders
On a raft at anchor in a pond (deer can?t get near the vegetables)
Depending on your situation, other available options may be to set up soil beds on your roof. These can be built like flower beds, and filled with fertilized soil. You may also look into a shared neighborhood lot. An unused lot can be plowed into a fruitful garden, and your neighbors can share in the work and the crop.
When selecting a place to put these containers, remember that most vegetables need to have direct sunlight, but many leafy vegetables can be grown mostly in indirect sunlight. Choose a location that gets about six hours of light. A flourescent bulb can also be placed less than a foot from the base of the plant as a light source.
When choosing a location for planting, another thing to consider is the surrounding terrain. A low-lying area may cause frost damage; to reduce this risk, try to plant your garden where air currents are passing through. If you are growing your vegetables indoors, this will not be a problem.
Another important part of preparation is fertilizing your soil. You may use any available organic material, earthworms, manure, or commercial concentrates (which may not be easy to find). In some countries, nothing organic is thrown away. You can save any kitchen scraps, grass cuttings, weeds, sawdust, or spoiled crops. Everything should be kept in a moist pile or bin, but air should be allowed to circulate. Periodically, the pile should be turned to aid the decomposing. The compost can then be used as mulch, or mixed into the soil.
Be creative! Think of all the places weeds and other unwanted plants find to grow. These same places can be used to grow nutritious vegetables or herbs for your family. You can take advantage of every available bit of land or space in your home. Fresh vegetables will be a welcome change if you are living off of dehydrated foods for a long period of time.
Originally posted @ Sharing Sustainable Solutions