One of the most exquisite tastes is a sun ripened tomato plucked straight from the vine. With some fresh basil and sliced mozzarella, it’s a near perfect entree for any meal.
Gardening is one of life’s greatest pleasures and you don’t need an enormous backyard or acres of property to make it happen. With a bit of research and a can-do attitude you can have a functional and prosperous veggie garden in your own small backyard or micro balcony garden. Here’s how to get started.
1. Only grow what you like to eat
There’s absolutely no point in growing things you’re not going to eat. Make sure someone in your house will actually eat the vegetables of your labour, otherwise it’s not worth the time and money you put into it.
2. Grow small-ish things
If you’re short on space, it’s obviously best to grow things that are small. This means leaving pumpkin and cauliflower for people with ample sized backyards and sticking to herbs, leafy greens and other compact crops.
3. Choose vegetables with a quick turn around rate
With limited space, you don’t have time to wait a year for your crops to mature. Choose early potatoes because they mature faster than other types of potatoes. Think about growing some leafy greens too so you can harvest off the top, pop it in your salad and the plant will keep growing for your lunch next week. Some types of lettuce will mature in just 45 days so these are the types of veggies you want in your small garden. Quick to plant and quick to grow is what you’re after.
4. Grow vegetables that are expensive in the shops
Unless you live in a tropical paradise with endless space you won’t be able to grow expensive mangoes and avocados with any kind of consistency (boo!) but things like herbs and shallots will also put a bit of a dent in your grocery bill so why not grow them at home? Herbs are pretty easy to manage and it’s super convenient to just pop outside for a handful of basil or parsley when you need it for cooking.
5. Go vertical
You can get compact varieties of vegetables that can be grown up a trellis, which saves a lot of ground soil space for other plants. Get small or ‘bush’ versions of eggplant and squash and grow them vertically to save yourself some real estate.
6. Start with the small garden hit list
Kale, garlic, early potatoes, beetroot, swiss or rainbow chard, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and herbs. Hint: Make sure you choose compact size versions of these plants if you can. Every square centimetre matters in a small garden.
7. If you want to get technical, try ‘inter-cropping’
If you’re going to plant something that may take up a bit of space like tomatoes or potatoes (even the compact varieties), you can use the excess space around them before they mature. Plant a few fast growing radishes or salad leaves in-between your longer term crops and harvest them before your long term crops mature. It’s an excellent way to get a lot of variety in a small garden.
8. Don’t forget about container gardening
If your veggie patch is full you can extend your small garden into containers. Tomatoes, herbs, strawberries and chillies all grow beautifully in containers and the best part is you can move them around to find the best growing spot.
9. Give kitchen bench gardening a go
You can buy kits to grow mushrooms on your own kitchen bench and it also super easy to GIY (grow it yourself) green sprouts in a small container right next to your sink. Grab a handful and add them to your lunch - fresh from your kitchen bench!
Also if you're wondering what to do with all your leftover Republica coffee grounds, hot tip: Your garden will LOVE them.