Growing vegetables and herbs on a small scale is perfectly possible for people who have little or no outside space but it does need a bit of creativity and some care with planting around the seasons.
Here we’ll run though a few ideas that might start you thinking about growing some of your food even if you can’t get out in a garden. Windows boxes, container gardening and growbags can all help the gardener who has no garden to landscape.
Window Boxes and Window-sills
If you have no outside space at all then you are restricted to indoor planting or window boxes. Lots of herbs will grow on a sunny window-sill, in fact window-sill growing is perfect for bringing seeds on even if you are able to plant them out in the open air later on.
You will have to make sure they are kept at the right level of humidity. Get trays and stand the plant pots in them and put half an inch of water in the tray rather than watering individual plants. This keeps mess down to a minimum and will allow plants to draw as much water as they need.
Vegetable growing can be a bit tricky although there’s nothing to stop you growing tall vegetables like tomatoes, peas and beans indoors. You will need a lot of space, of course, so that they can be put somewhere where they won’t get knocked over. They will also need to be in front of large windows to get access to the sun, unless you go out and buy special lights for growing plants out of season.
Growbags and larger containers are really only suitable for those of you who have some outside space. Many people have small back yards that have been concreted or paved over. Containers can soften that space and bring colour as well as providing food to eat.
Containers can be almost anything as long as they hold water. Flower pots are the obvious answer but if you are thinking of growing lots of different crops the cost of decorative pots can quickly get out of control. Start with cheaper alternatives like yoghurt pots, ice cream containers and even take-away meal cartons.
Anything that holds water will do, although you would be wise to make holes in the bottom so that excess water and rain can escape. For the smaller pots consider putting them on trays as before. That will make watering easy and reduce the risk of over-watering. Many leaf vegetables like lettuces and endives will grow well in medium to large pots.
Growbags can simply be cut open and left as they are and they don’t have to be restricted to growing tomatoes. Beans and peas will work just as well, as will many other vegetables that need vertical or horizontal space but don’t have deep root structures like squashes, peppers, chillies, aubergines and courgettes.
Go for Herbs if Space is at a Premium
If you really are pushed for space then it’s worth going for herbs rather than vegetables though. They can be used to make a real difference to many dishes. How often do you wish you had a particular herb or spice handy to make a favourite dish?
If you’re growing your herbs then all you have to do is get the scissors out and you’ve got it. Beats running down to the shops all the time.