Growing Food in Small Spaces
There is a misconception that in order to grow food, you need a garden. It’s all about becoming creative with the space you have, be it a patio, balcony or window sill. The only thing your plants need is sunshine, soil, water and love. Here are some steps to grow food anywhere:
- Pick a sunny spot. Vegetables and herbs love and need sun.
If you have a balcony or patio, watch which direction the sun moves and choose the area that gets it the most.
If all you don’t have either, a sun-bathed window can do the job.
If you don't have sun at all, you could use LED lights to create your own hydroponics garden!
- Pick the right planter. Depth and drainage are of key importance.
Choose planters that have at least 20 to 30cm of depth to allow the roots to grow as deep as they can. In a garden, this wouldn’t be a problem. The width should be a minimum of 15cm to allow the plants to expand horizontally.
Once you’ve chosen your sunny balcony or patio spot, you can stack your plants vertically to make up for a loss of ground area by either hanging planters on the railing or ceiling, placing planters or pots on shelving or nailed to the wall, or using specially made raised planters. If you are using a window sill, choose a pot that is deep and long, or use a few round pots. We have partnered with New Hope SA who make planter boxes - buy here!
It is important that your planters have a drainage tray with holes in the bottom to allow water to filter through the soil and not collect at the bottom, causing damp that negatively affects the plant roots. Place a thin layer of small stones or pebbles at the bottom of the planter and then add your soil. This further assists with water drainage.
- Pick the right soil. Vegetables need nutrient and organic rich soil. Potting soil is best to use as it is designed especially for, well, pots! Alternatively, a combination of 2/3 soil and 1/3 compost will work wonders too. Compost adds a bit of extra nutrition, but most potting soils already contain compost so check with your nursery.
- Pick watering times. When the soil area of your plants is limited, watering consistency is of the utmost importance.
If the plants are in full sun there is the risk of them becoming dried out, if they don’t have a lot of sun, they can become too damp. Mornings are the best time for watering as it equips the plants to withstand the sun of the day. To check whether your plants need water, place your finger in the soil. If it is dry, it needs water, if it is wet, it doesn’t. Try avoid letting the soil dry out completely by watering regularly.
You are now ready to grow food in your small space!