You might not have a big backyard, but even without a lot of space, you can still grow an edible garden this summer–and now is the perfect time to get planting! Landscape designer Teryl Ciarlo of Teryl Designs was kind enough to share some of her tips for gardening in small spaces.
1. Choose the Right Plants
No garden is too small for practicing good farm to table etiquette! There are a handful of veggies and herbs that thrive anywhere they’re planted. A small garden or patio is no exception–just be more selective in your choices, and make sure to choose greens that you will actually eat.
For the perfect homegrown salad, plant spinach, lettuce, tomato, kale, and garlic in a large container or small garden. You can use the garlic to make your own dressing, and it feels so great to know that you’re eating a salad grown entirely by YOU!
For culinary dinner masterpieces, plant eggplant, hot peppers, shallots, purple sprouting broccoli, and basil. All of these vegetables grow well together in tight quarters.
Don’t forget to plant edible flowers to protect your other veggies from pests, to attract pollinators, and to bring some color to your crop! Nasturtiums, French marigolds, Calendula, and Borage are all excellent sacrificial plants that bring beauty AND function; pests tend to indulge in florals first, which makes these the perfect plants to act as a distraction, while your other veggies bring home the mari-gold!
2. Limit Vegetable Garden Weeds
To make the most of limited spaces, make sure you aren’t encouraging weed growth, which can use up valuable space and resources! Rid your vegetable garden of annoying weeds without the use of chemicals with good old-fashioned elbow grease! Roll up your sleeves, grab those freeloaders by the roots, and try to pull from beneath the soil.
You can also place newspaper or cardboard across your garden beds before putting down mulch, since weeds can’t grow through them. And as the paper decomposes, it feeds the soil, making this a tip no garden should be without!
3. Or Eat Your Weeds!
If you can’t stay on top of your weeds, try a different outlook: it’s time we saw the salad bar in our weeds! Did you know that many weeds are edible? Talk about making use of everything that comes out of the garden! Violets, nasturtiums, purslane, plantain, and mustard seed can all be used in salads, guacamole, teas, and even made into vinegars. As an extra benefit, most are excellent sources of vitamins A, C, and K. Believe it or not, I recently ate at an upscale restaurant and the sauce was made of dandelion greens!
4. Build a Vertical Vegetable Garden Wall
Vertical vegetable garden walls allow you to maximize your space, as well as make it possible to garden indoors! Though they’re gorgeous to look at, eye candy isn’t the only reason to create a living wall: being surrounded by plants can reduce stress, purify the air, dampen noise pollution and increase your overall wellbeing! Plus, if your vertical garden is made up of herbs and veggies, you could be relishing the joys of a fresher culinary experience, too.
5. Create a Mason Jar Herb Garden
Portable mason jar gardens are perfect for enjoying indoors OR outdoors! The garden can be used as a unique centerpiece while entertaining, or set by a window to take full advantage of sunshine.