See my previous post in this series on where to find seeds!
Garden-planning mode is in full swing over here in our tiny apartment. Seeds have been ordered, and we’re stockpiling old egg cartons and toilet paper rolls to use to start seeds. I also discovered a lurker on one of the bottom shelves of our pantry – a few sweet potatoes have sprouted (picture above). It seems our garden is getting started whether we’re ready or not! Our aim this year is not to grow all our own food, but to supplement what we get from our farmer on a weekly basis.
Those living in tiny spaces will need to get creative when it comes to finding room for container gardens. We’re lucky enough to have windows on three sides of the apartment, so we get tons of light. First thing is to map out where you get the most light in your home. Then, try to maximize the space you have that falls into that light zone.
Some strategies we use are to place tables and desks (where we can spare a corner!) by light-filled windows, to use shelves or a wide ladder near the window to create vertical space, and to get creative with windowsills and radiators. All the radiators in our “light zone” have been transformed into shelves. You can also try hanging planters indoors – just make sure you secure them correctly!
Next, consider what would grow best in your environment. Generally, these are fruits and vegetables that do well in the local climate and with limited space. When selecting seeds, also consider what your family uses most, and in what quantities. If you plan on canning some vegetables (pickles, canned tomatoes or salsas, etc.), then also be sure to plan for the extra crops that will require.
For our indoor garden, we’re focusing mainly on lettuces, greens and on staple crops that we use all the time (carrots, celery, and onions, for example, which we use throughout the year in broths). I also like to grow my own herbs and scallions, as we use these in small amounts throughout the year but rarely have the need to buy a huge bunch from the farmer or local grocer. By growing our own, we can harvest just what we need, and leave the rest in the ground. We don’t have the space to get much more elaborate than that, but we definitely could if we had a balcony or small yard.
Crops we’ve decided on for this year:
- Pickling cucumbers (for making lacto-fermented pickles)
- 2 varieties of carrots
- One variety of beets, which are as great for their leaves as for their bulbs
- Parsnips (a favourite in our household)
- Spinach and New Zealand Spinach
- 4 varieties of lettuce, some which do better in hot weather, others in cold
- Sylvetta arugula (a wild variety)
- Swiss chard
- Purple Orach
- Good King Henry
- Sea Kale
- Collard Greens
- 2 varieties of Kale: Lacinato and Red Russian
…and possibly some sweet potatoes if they have their way!
We may also grow some tomatoes and peppers over at my in-laws place, where they have a yard and more space.
These seems like a long list for such a small amount of space – and it is! But they won’t all get planted at the same time. Some greens, such as watercress and the variety of mizuna I grow, are early crops, while others won’t be sown until mid-summer when we plant for a fall harvest. Others, like lettuces, I’ll grow in successive batches, so that we always have some mature lettuce (in a variety suited to the season!) available.
I’m excited to get started! Where are you with all of your vegetable and fruit gardening plans? Leave a note in the comments.