I’m about a year and a half into the whole ‘gardening’ thing. To give you some context: we live in a seaside apartment with zero grass. When we first moved in I was rather ambitious about what I was going to grow in our little container garden. I have been both delighted and disappointed by it. However, having my little space keeps me in touch with the seasons, constantly away how slowly food grows and always reminded what a miracle it is that things grow out of the ground!!
So, here are a few things I have learnt along the way!
You will need to compost well.
Unlike the ground, your container garden will not replenish itself. This means that it needs to be fed fairly regularly. The absolute best way to do this is to make your own compost. I have a worm farm and it is the best thing ever. Not only does it deal with my kitchen scraps, it keeps my garden health and nourished.
Bugs can decimate your container garden in a short amount of time. Seriously. I have said goodnight to my plants one moment only to wake up in the morning with several completely eaten by caterpillars :(. Its also important to use pesticide free solutions to this problem. I recommend Neem Oil. This stuff is amazing!
Research and plan.
If you are short on space and pots (like I am), it is worth the time to sit and think about what you would like in your garden, and what will grow best in your climate. My strategy this winter is to focus on one main vegetable and to grow that in bulk. This way I will actually get enough to meet my needs. I did entertain ideas of growing potatoes, but, realistically I would still have to buy them- so that dream will go down on the “one-day-when-we-own-a-backward” list. Another important thing to keep in mind is which seasonal plants you will have, and which pots you will put them in. Certain plants add or take different nutrients from the soil (for example, beans are great for adding nitrogen) and so you will need to carefully plan which pots to put them in.
The first thing I attempted to grow in my garden was Snow Peas. Easy, right? Well…they grew and grew and grew but never flowered. To my dismay. But, I learnt lots of things about gardening during this time. It taught me to be patient, and go me into the habit of tending to my garden daily. So don’t despair! And definitely do not listen to those people that say: “Oh, Snow peas? I heard they are really easy to grow?” We don’t need those people…
Herbs are your best friends.
Herbs aren’t always a breeze, but they are a great way to start. Mint will spread like a crazy weed, and is usually pretty low maintenance. You will get an almost immediate harvest from growing herbs (which is encouraging) and, fresh herbs add incredible flavour to cooking. Lettuce is another plant which gives a fairly quick harvest, and will mostly look after itself. Don’t try and grow an avocado from seed straight away (trust me, pinterest is wrong). Ease your way in with these plants which are great friends, and perfect for containers.
So we press on, and learn, and fail. I never imagined my little garden would give me so much joy, and produce such a harvest!