Small space vegetable and flower gardening
Our gardening space is getting smaller but everyone is urged to lower their carbon footprint by growing their own food. But we still want some flowers because the beauty of flowers sustains our inner souls.
What can you do? Small space or large space — you want to use all the space. A true raised vegetable garden is best. But even with a small space, you can still have fresh vegetables and fruit.
Some hints for success: mix your vegetables with your blooming plants. Don’t over-plant. Plant only a few vegetables at a time. One zucchini squash is plenty. Plant only the vegetables that you like to eat.
I like Swiss chard over Kale. Sorry Kale promoters! Chard comes with colorful stems and leaves and looks great in a flower bed. It’s perennial and you can keep cutting over and over again.
As an aside, here is my favorite quickie chard dish — First, wash and chop. Quick wilt fry with some olive oil, garlic and a dash of seasoning. That huge mass of fresh chard melts down to just the right portion size. Top with some Feta Cheese. As soon as the cheese melts just slide it off onto your plate and enjoy.
What else can you mix into your flowerbed? Parsley, dill and cilantro are beautiful to include with your sunny flowers. Rosemary is permanent and pretty too. Carrots have beautiful ferny tops. Planting carrot seeds can be tricky because they need to be spaced to develop correctly. How do you keep all those seeds from clumping together? Make some seed strips with toilet paper. Go to Weidners.com for easy instructions.
Better yet come and learn at Weidner’s Gardens Herb and Vegetable Festival March 19 and 20. The famous Mia from the former Cedros Gardens will show you how. Mia has a special gift of making everything easy to understand. She is entertaining and organic is practically her middle name. All the classes are free. You can never learn too much so check out the many other classes at your local Garden Centers.
Fresh Fruit? Yes you can even with small space.
Plant fruit trees on the sides and back of your garden. You can plant them quite close together. This is called backyard gardening. Even smaller space? Get one of the multi-budded fruit trees that give you several different fruits over a longer period of time. A half barrel will hold almost any dwarf or semi dwarf fruit tree.
Citrus? One orange, a tangerine plus a lemon or lime. Citrus is not happy in clay so if you have clay, go up a foot or two with a raised bed. Railroad ties or stacking blocks make it easy.
Try pots of vegetables under some blooming hanging baskets. The same water does double duty and you’ll still get enough sun to make your veggies happy. Number one choice: a big bright Ivy Geranium basket hung in a sunny spot. Underneath put a nice large ceramic pot with vegetables. If you are a super thrifty gardener try using one of those 3 or 5 gallon black nursery cans. Paint them the same color as your ivy geranium or some other shockingly bright color. Plant one tomato, with a cucumber to hang over the edge. Other choices: Fill it with strawberries and also mixed peppers and cucumbers.
You can still plant lettuce and winter vegetables like broccoli — almost any vegetable will work. The water from the hanging basket will nicely water the vegetable pot below. You will be amazed at how this little trick will give you vegetables and flowers and still save water.
No matter how small your space is, you can still enjoy fresh from your garden herbs, vegetables and fruit.
Remember squash and cucumbers will always get mildew. Grow as long as you can and then replant. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes because that’s how we learn. Make a note in your gardening notebook and just move on.
Eat everything you grow and enjoy the free exercise that gardening brings.