Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Urban Gardening - Growing your own, without an allotment

A lot of people are thinking about growing at least some of their own food but don’t think they have the space for it.  Community gardens are one answer but are limited.  Here’s an article about making the most of the space you have and creating space where you might not have imagined!  - Gene
Growing your own, without an allotment
May 1, 2014
Allotments have become wildly popular in recent years, and unfortunately this means many council-run allotment schemes now have waiting lists that span years or are even closed to new applicants.
If your outside space isn’t exactly plentiful, you may think this rules you out of the grow-your-own revolution, but happily you’re much mistaken. Even the tiniest outdoor space can be used for growing – and cheaply with found materials – you just have to be cunning about it!
Make your own window boxes
You can make a cheap window box for any south-facing windows using the wood from an old pallet. If you can use a tape measure, a saw and a drill it’s so easy, and you can paint them any colour you like to harmonise with your home’s decor – step-by-step instructions.
Those who aren’t into woodwork could try making simpler window boxes from ready-made boxy items such as vintage bicycle baskets, for a fabulous retro look.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: Soil and plants are very heavy, so your window box will need to be extremely securely attached to the outside of your home, especially if it’s above a path or pavement. Leave a gap between the window box and the side of the house to avoid water damage.
WHAT TO GROW: Herbs, such as chives, parsley, sage and thyme. Edible flowers, for example nasturtiums, cornflowers and calendula. Small leafy salad plants.
Make your own upside-down tomato planter
These wonderful planters let you grow delicious tomatoes in the tiniest of spaces. Tomatoes are vines, so they don’t get upset at being planted upside down, plus you can plant other herbs or small plants in the top of the planter as well! Here are the step-by-step instructions
THINGS TO CONSIDER: The prop that you hang your tomatoes from will have to be strong enough to support the weight of the bucket, soil and a healthy crop of tomatoes. Choose somewhere very solid to avoid pulling bits off your home or destroying your fence! Tomatoes need a lot of water to produce juicy fruit, so make sure you water them every evening during the hottest months.
WHAT TO GROW: ‘Gardeners Delight’ is the tomato that seems to enjoy upside down growing the most, though you may want to try growing some cherry or baby plum tomatoes as well.
Make your own vertical garden
If all you have is a blank, south-facing wall, then you have an opportunity to grow all kinds of fruit and vegetables in a vertical garden. The effect in the summer can be stunning – a wall of greenery!
There are several ways to create a vertical garden:
· Set up a piece of trellising or mesh against the wall, train dwarf fruit trees or fruiting vines up it, as well as planting into small containers and affixing them to the mesh with garden wire.
· Attach old guttering to the wall in strips and plant along the gutters.
· Fill a wooden pallet with soil and plant into the gaps.
· Make shelving up the wall using reclaimed wood, then planting into ordinary pots and recycled containers.
THINGS TO CONSIDER: Make sure the whole is securely fastened into the wall itself – such a shame if your garden keeled over once the veg started getting heavy.
WHAT TO GROW: With the exception of fruit and veg that need a lot of space, the seed catalogue is your oyster! If you live in the south, you can even try growing more exotic edibles such as aubergines and chillies.
More fruit and veg growing ideas for smaller spaces…
·         Strawberries or cherry tomatoes will grow happily in hanging baskets at just the right height for picking. 

·         It’s possible to harvest over 40kg of potatoes from a small raised bed just over a metre square – here’s how!

·         Balconies can be very productive, so long as they get five hours of sun a day. Most vegetables can be grown from containers, so long as they’re deep enough. Be creative… you can grow carrots in old wellies and beans from a deep tin can!