Small space gardening: a how-to guide


At My Green Space, we’re on a mission to prove that growing our own food doesn’t have to happen in just large, open spaces. With the current housing market (yes, Vancouver, I’m looking at you), we simply can’t afford the acreage that generations before us garden or gardened in.

Luckily, fruits and veggies are resilient little creatures that can adapt to a plethora of different environments. This week, we’ve focused on small space and container gardening, a concept that has risen in popularity during recent years.


Get the tutorial for this tiered planter from Decor and the Dog.

Balcony gardening, gardening in sun-lit indoor spaces, and vertical gardening are all options that we will explore below, in addition to some important tips that can be integrated into any small space garden plot.

Be honest with your sunlight conditions.
For all gardeners using the My Green Space app, calculating the amount of sunlight available is part of the process. Before deciding what to plant, determine how much sun you get on average. You can test this out by simply knowing which way your space is facing (south being maximum sunlight), by observing throughout the course of a day, or by using a tool like the SunCalc.


Help out your veggies and fruits with a balcony trellis system like this one, found at Gardeners Supply Company.

Be mindful of the containers you choose to grow in.
With the wide selection of pots out there, it’s up to you to decide what will work best for your space. The different varieties have pros and cons. Plastic, for example, is cheap and light, but with intense sun exposure can quickly fade and even disintegrate. Terracotta, loved for its rustic, natural look, is heavier and dries out quickly, needing constant watering. When using salvaged or containers previously used for another purpose, you will most likely need to drill drainage holes in the bottom to ensure that water can cycle through the soil.

We love to reuse containers, especially broken mugs, teapots, or wheelbarrows that can no longer be used. Upcycling is trendy, but we can extend the life of our products beyond their set purpose, and turn this trend into a lifestyle!

As a general rule, larger containers require less watering than plants in smaller-sized pots. Keep this in mind if you’re a beginner gardener or have a busy schedule!


Love this setup? Find the tutorial at The Horticult.

Find appropriate trays for your plants.
No matter what pot or container you choose for your veggies and fruits, you’ll need to place it in a tray to protect the floor from soily water/watery soil. Alternatively, we love this idea of a tiered system (image below), found on Fancy Frugal Life.

Discover what can grow in containers.
Not all vegetables can be grown in small spaces - but most can! There are different levels of effort required for each variety, so be aware of this before starting your garden.

Easy
Kale
Bok Choy
Lettuce
Chard
Spinach
Herbs (basil, mint, rosemary, thyme) - can also be grown indoors, easily

Medium
Beets
Radishes
Carrots

Challenging
Strawberries
Potatoes
Peppers
Tomatoes


If you’re looking for a greenhouse setup, get inspired by beautiful mini balcony greenhouses like this one (found on Pinterest)!

Use a potting mix and a quality organic fertilizer.
Particularly in a small space, it is critical to use a good potting mix and fertilizer. Ideally, use organic mix when growing food. To add nutrients to your soil, and, inadvertently, plants, we recommend a manure of some sort, whether animal or plant-based, like mushroom manure.

Plan out your space.
Tying in your sunlight conditions and spacing, maximize your space by utilizing vertical planters, hanging baskets, and carts that can easily move your plants from the outdoors in. If growing plants close to one another, use our guide to companion planting to decide what works best in pairs.


Use a rolling cart to easily transport your plants between inside and the outdoors for maximum flexibility.

Consider growing some food indoors.
Herbs and microgreens can easily be grown inside your home, with some exposure to light. We love this tutorial from Pioneer Settler on how to make an indoor vertical garden (image below).


Another option for an indoor vertical herb garden (found on Pinterest).

We hope you enjoy being creative with your small space gardens!

Love,
My Green Space


Cover photograph from Chloe Popove.


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