Making the Most of Limited Space for Growing Fruit and Vegetables
In a small garden, even a paved area — such as a sunny patio or yard — can be used for a number of different crops. This generally means growing the plants in containers.
Make the most, too, of any wall or fence that faces between south and west. Blackberries and loganberries will thrive here — and occupy little space — or you may prefer to grow a fig, a grape vine or a fan-trained peach.
Pots, troughs and tubs
Every garden centre offers a wide range of containers that are both attractive and practical.
Use clay or plastic pots and wooden troughs for tomatoes, peppers or aubergines. Placed near the house wall, which at night releases warmth stored during the day, the plants often do better than in the open garden. Daily watering is needed, together with free drainage at the base of the container.
Bay trees remain popular subjects for tubs, but a variety of culinary herbs can be grown instead. A substantial tub provides adequate space for a fig’s root system and the sheltered position will help the embryo fruits to survive the winter.
Strawberry pots and barrels (see below)
Cover the container with netting when the fruits form, and turn it every day or two to expose the plants to equal amounts of sunlight.
Almost any type of vegetable can be grown in the peat bags sold by garden shops and centres. To ensure maximum return for your outlay, though, give first priority to high-cost crops such as tomatoes, peppers and aubergines.
The patio itself will contribute towards food production if you remove one or two paving slabs and form pockets of good soil for growing herbs. This idea is less practical if space is very limited, in which case herbs could form an edging between paving and lawn.
A raised bed, built with bricks or stone as a permanent feature on a patio, can be used for growing any of the plants suggested for containers. Free drainage is essential, so provide outlets at the base and lay a layer of rubble, topped with gravel, before filling with good soil.
GROWING STRAWBERRIES IN A BARREL
Bore 2in (50 mm) diameter holes about 12 in (305 mm) apart round the barrel, using aor a hole saw and staggering the holes. Bore 10in (12 mm) diameter holes in the bottom.
Stand the barrel on bricks to ensure good drainage.
Place an old drain-pipe in the centre of the barrel and fill it with gravel. Cover the base with rubble, then a layer of gravel, and fill the barrel with good garden soil.
As filling proceeds, push plants through the holes from outside, firming soil over the roots. Withdraw the drain-pipe when the barrel is full, leaving the core of gravel as drainage.