Welcome to the Earth Hour global community!
You join millions who turned off the lights for an hour to spark inspiration to do more for the planet and take action beyond the hour. As part of our community, you'll be kept updated with information and opportunities to participate in the Earth Hour movement. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for a full 360-degree engagement.
Lets unite people to protect the planet!
Earth Hour Header 2014
FRUIT AND VEGGIE GARDENING IN SMALL SPACES
You may have noticed what seems to be a global trend of shrinking land sizes, whilst the reverse is generally true of the homes being built on them. This has resulted in a dwindling space allocated for gardens, especially in more urban areas. Whilst gardening in smaller spaces is nothing new to intercity dwellers in apartments and terraces, the push for space has stretched out into the suburbs, meaning more people now have to think about the smarter use of their garden space. This article aims to seed your imagination on ways that you could work around these space limitations to grow your own fresh produce at home.
Think Big - Grow Small
Since man collected and planted the first seeds at the dawn of agriculture, there has been a desire and effort to increase the yields and reduce the space required to grow food crops at the same time. Fast-forward to today and you will find a multitude of smaller growing fruits and vegetables suitable for tight spaces that still yield great crops. When looking for suitable plants to grow, look for smaller growing 'dwarf' varieties suitable for pots and smaller garden spaces. Varieties with these attributes will generally shout it on their labels, otherwise you could always ask your local garden centre for advice on suitable plants/seeds for your garden.
Dwarf fruiting Trees
Aside from the selection and refinement of plants with smaller growth habits, commercial plant growers have other handy tricks up their sleeves to limit the overall size of plants. Some plants can be grafted onto what are known as 'dwarfing rootstocks'. This limits the growth of the tree without reducing the overall size or quality of the fruit. This is an ideal way to grow what otherwise would be a large tree in a smaller courtyard. Another way of keeping fruit trees that may not currently be available in dwarf form is to grow them in pots that will constrict their overall size.
One method of overcoming your lack of garden floor space is to utilize the vertical space you might have currently been overlooking. This can be a great way of 'softening' walls, as well as keeping areas cooler and less reflective. Below are some methods to take advantage of these vertical spaces:
Espalier - one great way of utilising vertical space with a minimal floor area footprint is the use of a clever growing technique known as espaliering. To espalier simply means to grow flat, generally against a wall, and can be an effective method of growing both ornamental and fruiting trees. This generally requires the wall to have some form of support in the form of lattice or wire so branches can be fixed on them as required.
Greenwalls and Vertical Gardens - one of the coolest trends in gardening over recent years has been the shift towards vertical gardens for space savings as well as aesthetic values. Vertical garden systems have come a long way in recent years and there are an ever-increasing number of systems available on the market. For herb and vegetable growing where you are going to be seasonallythat requires re-planting during the seasons, look for a systems that can be easily replenished/replanted without too much effort.
Hanging Baskets - there is nothing new about hanging baskets - they could be seen by some as quite an 'old fashioned' way to garden. But their space-saving ability can't be underestimated, as well as their suitability for certain crops such as strawberries. They keep plants largely out of harm’s way when it comes to pests and diseases. They can also feature a mixture of plants such as herbs, as well as flowering annuals to add a bit of colour.
Whilst modern day gardens may have shrunk in size, the trend in home design has typically been 'the bigger the better'. Why not utilise some of your internal space by growing herbs on your kitchen windowsill, or sprouts on your bench? Keeping them close at hand will serve to not only remind you to look after them, but also make them much easier to utilize for that last minute garnish or to add a bit of crunch to a salad.
Another clever trick used by growers is to multi-graft their plants. An example of this could be a lime and a lemon grafted onto the one rootstock, resulting in a tree that will yield both lemons and limes. You may also find multi-grafted stone fruits as well as apples. This can be a great way to consolidate the number of pots you need to grow some of your favourite fruiting varieties. Another interesting example of this grafting technique is the ‘Pomato’ - a tomato plant that produces regular tomatoes through the summer, then as the weather cools off and the tomato dies, allows potatoes to be harvested from the soil.
I hope this article has inspired you to think laterally (or even vertically) about ways that you can get growing at your place, no matter your space.
As ever if you have any questions or would like further information visit Hortiman on our website or check us out on Facebook. To find out more about the many benefits of plant life in your life visit Plant/Life Balance on Facebook.
As Earth Hour's resident garden adviser, Matthew Carroll will be answering gardening queries on our Facebook page. We'll keep you up to date on when he will be online to take your questions.