7 Hacks For Growing Food In Small Homes

Getting Started

How great would it be to taste freshly-grown vegetables and fruits daily? What more, those grown and harvested yourself! Even if there are space constraints at home, there are still many ways to go about creating your own garden. Another problem that you might encounter is having insufficient sunlight. There is quite a wide range of vegetables that fall under the ‘partial shade’ category, and even the  ‘shade’ category, which would grow well without needing full sun exposure. Keen on growing your own veggies in your apartment yet facing spacial constraints? Fret not for we’ve got you covered with tips on maximizing space and creating a flourishing urban garden. 

1. Container Gardening

If you do not have the luxury of space, container gardens might be the perfect solution. Container gardening allows you to grow a wide variety of veggies and fruit, as long as you nurture it with the right amount of sunlight and water. You would be surprised — lemon and blueberry trees can even be grown. Perks of this method include being space-efficient, mobile, and the flexibility of adjusting the containers vertically. You can easily shift your plants around to get the optimal amount of rays and do not have to suffer backaches from bending down all the time. 

A few pointers:

  • Anything can be used as a container! It can range from steel pasta drainers to vintage boxes. Just make sure to have holes for drainage. 
  • Plants will grow as long as there is sufficient space in the container. 
  • Straw bales are also an option for containers despite the slight mess they make and the fact that they decompose quickly.
  • Ensure that there is enough light, water, and food for your plants. As compared to ground gardening, soil in containers becomes dry easily and this causes nutrients to be lost quickly too. 
  • Adjust to your plant’s needs accordingly. 

2. Vertical Gardening

Fortunately, this method is suitable for lots of veggies and fruits. Some ideas are using a traditional trellis or using recycled pallets as a planter. Your options are, of course, only limited to your imagination. Exercise some of your creative juices and you will find yourself being spoilt for choice. The general guideline would be to make the most productive use out of the limited space. 

Here are some plants that you can grow:

  • Tomatoes:  Especially cherry tomatoes; they are perfect for upwards growing. Tie the plant to the structures using some old nylon strips as they put the least stress on the plants. Furthermore, they do not cost much! Otherwise, you could also plant it top down. 
  • Winter squash and melons
  • Peas and pole beans
  • Cucumbers
  • Asian and salad greens, strawberry, kitchen herbs
  • Potatoes
  • Hanging planters

Another great idea is using sunflowers as the main structure, with peas, beans, and cucumbers relying on it. To further maximize its use, you can add shade-tolerant plants at the bottom.  

3. Raised Beds and Square Foot Gardening

The benefits of this method of gardening is that it allows you to plant more plants per square foot and reduces the likelihood of having weeds. The weeds are also easier to remove and puts less pressure on your back. This has made it possible for those in wheelchairs to garden if the beds are properly spaced out. 

Ideally, the raised beds should have a depth of around 18-24 inches, or more if the beds are placed above existing soil. There are many other variations that you can consider online as well. 

Other benefits:

  • Longer growing season: During springtime, the bed warms up faster compared to the ground. During the fall, you could enclose the bed to control the temperature to extend the growing period. 
  • Flexibility of location
  • Good drainage system
  • No need for soil compaction
  • No wastage of soil
  • Adjustable and customizable height

4. Keyhole Gardens

The layout of keyhole gardens is designed to be draught-resistant and to ensure more efficient delivery of nutrients through the compost regardless of the growing season. 

It takes the shape of a circle, with a walkway to the middle of the garden. The center of the garden is hollow and consists of multiple layers of compost. The compost would break down and send the nutrients to the surrounding bed where the plants are. It could be built using a variety of materials and there are many variations that could be found online. 

5. Edible Landscape, Forest Gardens, and Permascaping

The essence of edible permascaping is to organize and plant food-bearing flowers instead of planting flowers that are only for aesthetic purposes. The challenge comes when most of these ornamentals are often, also edible.

The aim of this would be to maximize your yield of food-bearing plants. For instance, your lawns or backyard could be converted into garden plots, incorporating both food-bearing and ornamental plants so you can enjoy the best of both worlds. You just have to select and convert your available plots of land. 

6. Community Gardens

If you do not have space in your own apartment suitable for gardening, you can consider sharing the community garden with your neighbors! It is the perfect opportunity for you to forge greater bonds with them while growing food at the same time. 

Learning together with your neighbors would allow you to gather more information and tips than if you do it alone. They can also help to keep a lookout on your plants too. 

It is also beneficial and easy for children to be more exposed to the food cycles that they would not have known. Community gardening is a great way to instill some values and ideas in them on the importance of the natural and scare resources we have. 

7. Strategize

If you are convinced to start your gardening journey, the first thing you have to do is choose the right plants according to your resources and the ability to care for the plants. Make a thorough assessment of your space and off you go! Feel free to share your experiences and any tips with the green community. 

Gardening is a great hobby to take up if you have the time and patience. Especially if you are the type who likes to see the fruits of your labor, this is perfect for you; so hesitate no more and start planting today!

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