So what if your backyard is only a 40-inch planter? For renters or homeowners with little (or no) yard space, container gardens offer a way to grow fresh food and spend some time outside. Here are a few tips on getting started.
- Find a container
While you can simply head to your local box store and buy plastic or wooden containers made for gardening, you can also get creative with things you have around the house. As long as there are holes on the bottom for drainage, anything from kiddie pools and old tires to buckets and dresser drawers can hold a mini-farm.
- Locate the sun
Try to place your container in a spot that gets at least six hours of sun daily. Leafy greens can usually grow (slowly) with just four hours of sun every day, but the more sunlight the better. Sliding a plastic platform with rolling casters under your container enables you to relocate it to a sunnier spot throughout the season.
- Learn how hardy you are
The USDA’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map shows you which plants thrive in which regions of the country.
- Decide what you’re hungry for
Plant what you love to eat. Wild about fresh salsa? Go for peppers and cilantro. Crazy for cocktails? Plant mint and lemon balm. Eat tons of salad? Greens and lettuce grow well in shallow containers, making them ideal for window boxes. Plus, because the leaves grow back after you pick them, you can «harvest» throughout the season.
- Kick up your flavor
Herbs can be expensive to buy, and sometimes you don’t need the entire package. But if you grow a bucket of basil or a pot of rosemary you can simply snip a few sprigs whenever you need them.
- Mind your moisture
Over-watering can kill plants just as easily as under-watering. Learn how much water each kind of plant requires and monitor closely to keep the soil ideal for growing.
Looking for a townhouse with a patio perfect for containers? Or a condo with a balcony in need of hanging baskets? Start by finding an experienced agent.