For those that have green fingers but not the space to garden you have to make some informed decisions. When thinking of small space gardening you have to compromise, be smart, plant small, plant often. A bit of extra thought needs to happen but the payoff can be immensely rewarding. Having fresh herbs at arm’s length in your kitchen is a must for those of us that love to cook. They can easily be grown in window boxes or pots, as do Pac Choi, rocket and mizuna. Thyme, chamomile, marjoram, mint and the chive family can even be planted between flagstones in a small garden, or even convert an old pallet into a rustic herb garden. All of these plants will give very attractive greenery as they grow and you’ll get the added bonus of the most enchanting aromatic scents, especially in a small space.
There is also the beansprout brigade that grow ridiculously easily in a cupboard or drawer. Simple soak a handful of mung beans overnight in warm water, scatter them on a damp piece of flannel or old cotton sheet, any sort of cloth will do; spread these in the bottom of a pie dish. Cover them carefully with a plate to exclude all the light, put them away somewhere and a week later your bean feast is ready. You can eat them raw in a salad or mixed up with peppers and rice, giving you a crisp, crunchy taste to any stir fry lightly heated for two minutes.
The runner beans don’t necessarily need to be trained up poles, they can be left dangling down from hanging baskets, although do make sure you can reach them to collect their beans. If you do have a sunny wall or a small border try a small wooden trellis to train beans up where they will cling on and grow very well.
Cucumbers and marrows can be grown on balconies, start cucumbers off in soil blocks or pots in April, keep them on the window sill indoors (they need plenty of water) then move them out in mid-May. Gherkins being from the same family are very easy to grow to, both need plenty of food and can be trained up the balcony wall or simply left to trail over their pots. Marrows are very easy to grow, but it may be best to buy a plant that has already been started off if you buy a bush variety it won’t ramble too much. You can always choose to grow courgettes instead and perhaps leave one off to grow larger.
Another good balcony vegetable is the capsicum or sweet pepper these need plenty of sun but can ripen outdoors, or try a melon growing on a sunny but sheltered wall putting some clear plastic in front of it in the summer to help with the ripening, don’t let the plastic come into contact with the leaves or flowers as they will be scorched.
Larger vegetables can do quite well in pots, Cabbages, kales and many lettuce varieties are the “cut and come” types. This is where you can cut off the outside leaves and the plant will come (grow) again quite happily. Even the huge straight sided parsnips and carrots seen at many country fairs have been grown in pots to regulate their shape but you could try salsify or scorzonera these are near impossible to buy in shops; both need boiling then slicing and frying to get the best from them.
Be sure to check out our extensive seed varieties in our online store here.
All of our seeds are grown on our farm here in Co Clare and all grown organically of course.