Small and Beautiful Urban Gardening
Posted on May 01 2016
Many of us live in flats or cities where the closest we get to nature is our local park. However gardening isn’t just for those with a garden in this blog we look at gardening for small spaces! You can indulge in your love for flowers, plants, vegetables and herbs on a small scale with some urban gardening! Whether that space is inside or outside you can exercise those green fingers with pots and window boxes, giving you access to the garden, albeit on a small scale!
Fruits, vegetables, and herbs all look and smell lovely whilst being incredibly practical. Spring is a great time of year to get creative and there are benefits to spending time with a hand fork and some seeds! It’s lovely to be able to add fresh herbs and vegetables to your meals along with having the great sense of achievement that comes with growing them yourself.
Here’s how to grow small and beautiful:
If you have a balcony or space to hang a window box then go for ones suitable for the outdoors and if you don’t have space then choose to create your garden inside, preferably near a window. Your container doesn’t have to be a wooden box, it can be any kind of container from painted tin cans to hessian sacks, Kilner jars to wooden creates, use your creativity! Window boxes are easy to buy or if you’re feeling handy then you can build one yourself and decorate it as you wish.
Get some urban garden inspiration over on my Pinterest board; Gardening for Small Spaces
Plants need some room to grow and soil that doesn't dry out too quickly. Your chosen container should be preferably at least 8 inches wide to provide room for growth and 8 inches deep for the roots to have room. It will need drainage holes if you’re planting directly into the box (or make holes yourself if there aren’t any) alternaiviely you can keep your plants in their individual pots within the container/ window box to make for easier watering and care.
*When planting outside beware of the frosts that have been surprising us lately! Aim to plant when we have a few days of warm weather.
When selecting what to put in your window box it’s important to think about the scale of plants, herbs and vegetables, how much sunlight you have and how much sunlight the plants will take up once fully grown.
Basically, you plant the same way you do in any container. Cover the drain holes, fill with soil mixture, and firm soil around plants without packing them too tightly. Leave at least 1 inch at the top for watering. Water to keep the earth moist but don’t overdo it so it’s damp. Once a day in the evening works well.
Routinely take care of your mini garden with regular watering, feeding with a liquid fertilizer once a week if you want to and regular grooming to remove faded flowers and leaves.
Your small garden can be practical with edibles that you eat or it can be a design feature. For a dramatic display choose plants that contrast with the background or with each other, bright plants against light wood, pale flowers against dark brick walls etc.
Place your window box on a deep ledge or fix brackets on the box securing it to your window sill. Most hardier vegetables will be happy with direct sun but lettuces and herbs are happy with a little shade.
Top edibles to grow in small spaces:
Herbs – parsley, basil, chives, rosemary, and mint need light soil and grow well
Blueberries – use acidic compost and water regularly
Chillies – potted tree chillies look great and can be used to spice up your culinary creations!
Salads – baby leaf greens, spinach, kale, mizuna, rocket are perfect for window boxes, keep out of full sunlight.
Beetroot – the leaves can be used in salads too
Pea shoots – these grow quickly for almost instant salads.
Great choices for some colour in your window box:
Sweet alyssum: Reliable, fragrant trailer in white, cream, pink, and purple. Easy to grow and fills in beautifully, often reseeding itself.
Lobelia: Cascading colour in white, sky blue, dark blue, rose, lavender, and cobalt. Perfect for window boxes.
Pansies: So may beautiful colours and pansies quickly fill gaps between other flowers and plants offering long-lasting colour.
Petunias: Great for Summer boxes, an abundance of blooms in a wide range of colours.
Ivy geranium: This is used frequently in hanging baskets and works really well in window boxes with its wonderful trailing stems covered with bright flowers.
Geraniums: Bedding geraniums are a classic window box plant, easy to grow and hardy in colder climates.
Dwarf bulbs: The miniature version of daffodils, crocus, grape hyacinth, cyclamen are ideal to add colour and bloom in your window box.
English ivy: If you want trailing ivy this works well in most climates and is hardy providing extra colour with varieties with cream or yellow accents on the leaves.
Miniature roses: Beautiful colours and many have a beautiful fragrance too, these will add elegance to any small garden box.
If you're looking for great gifts for gardeners visit our Gardening Gifts page. The gardening mug can even double up as a plant pot!