Small Space, Low Skill Gardening
We chat with a lot of people about our homesteading ventures, and the one thing we hear more than any other is:
‘I wish we could have a garden, but don’t have the space/skill’
Let me tell you… unless you live in a window-less box (and if you do, you should move, that’s just depressing) you do have enough space to grow some of your own food. And as far as skill goes, there are several veggies that grow like weeds. They take no skill to grow, so I guess you’re in luck!
Veggies that are easy for first timers:
Tomatoes- These guys seriously grow like weeds in our garden. The seeds from our tomatoes end up in our compost and go right back into the garden every year. We have tomato plants popping up all over the place, and I literally have to pull them as if they’re weeds. The time is now to start your tomato seedlings. Take a trip to your local plant nursery and pick up some seeds and some potting soil. You won’t believe how easy it is!
Green Beans- Stick them in some soil and forget about them. They do well in almost any type of soil and produce tons of beans to harvest.
Lettuce- This is the most fun first crop because you can keep cutting and cutting from it and it will just keep coming back. Lettuce grows best in cool weather and will bolt when it gets too hot, so start yours soon if you want to grow your own!
Herbs- Easy to grow herbs include: Pretty much all of them. If you’re a first timer, definitely get these as seedlings instead of seeds. Growing herbs from seeds is tough, even for seasoned gardeners. The only really important thing to keep in mind about herbs is that they need to be trimmed frequently, which is good if you’re into cooking, because they’ll grow just as fast as you can use them! Herbs are very hardy and can withstand a lot of learning, so they’re a good first crop, but you must remember to prune them, or else they will get tall and sparse and woody. Check out a good tutorial on pruning basil here.
Now that we’ve covered good starter crops, it’s time to learn how to do it in a small space!
You really can garden anywhere, you just need to get creative.
If you’re living in an apartment start thinking about access to sunlight in your space. Do you have a south-facing window? Great! Most herbs and some special small variety vegetable plants grow great in containers indoors. Do you have some windows that you could put a window box planter in? Window boxes are perfect for herbs and lettuce, but did you know that you can also grow small varieties of carrots, tomatoes, peppers, and strawberries on your windowsill?
In my old apartment, I had a window box chock full of herbs, and a topsy turvy tomato pot hanging from our balcony. I also had a tree growing in a five gallon bucket. With a little persistence you can make apartment growing work for you.
Community gardens are popping up in every city. All you have to do is buy a plot and take care of it. Sometimes you can even get a plot for free! A basic Google search will put you in touch with the right people in your neighborhood. The wonderful thing about this is that taking care of your veggie plot will connect you with other like minded folks in your neighborhood. You can even collaborate with them by swapping seeds and trading produce at harvest time.
Rooftop gardening is an option for many of you living in an apartment complex. The roof is sometimes the only place in a city block that gets full sun. Ask your landlord if you can use a 10×10 foot space on the roof for a raised bed garden, or veggies grown in containers. Or you can just be adventurous and bad-ass and do it anyway. If someone complains, you can always stop, but it’s very likely that no one will care.
Hopefully you now have some basic ideas on how and where to get started, so go for it! Try just one new thing and see how it goes, the fun is in the adventure!