Five Ways to Extend Your Garden Space
by Dawn Lesley Stewart
Limited planting area? I’ve been gardening for about 35 years and have experience with stretching garden space. Some traditional ways to work yard space are through container gardening, raised beds, or square foot gardening. Let’s explore some other ideas of maximizing growing potential.
Upside-down Tomato Garden
All the rage is growing tomatoes upside-down. For over five years, I have planted in the Upside-down Tomato Garden Planter. A twist on this concept is the Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter. Growing plants this way pulls the tomatoes (or other plants) out of the main garden. Or if you have limited space, such as an apartment or condo, either of these tomato gardens might be a deck or patio solution.
The Upside-down Tomato Garden is a vertical planter that sits on the ground. The base is weighted to keep it in place. The top of the planter stands about 52” high and has a unique 25” square planting area constructed from durable plastic. You can grow vegetables or flowers in the top of the planter, and beneath the planter (on the underside) plant tomatoes, which will grow upside-down. It’s like having a two-in-one garden option. The Upside-down Tomato Planter is designed to accommodate up to eight tomato plants.
Relatives bought the Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter. It is more affordable, but it doesn’t allow as much planting versatility or growing space, plus it is not as durable as the Upside-down Tomato Garden. The Topsy Turvy can hold up to three tomato plants (or other vegetables and herbs). It is made from flexible material (not hard plastic) and is designed to hang. Note that this product is heavy once filled with soil and plants. Cost-wise, the Topsy Turvy is less expensive than the Upside-down Tomato Garden Planter.
It all began with a television gardening show. When I saw the host plant lettuce in bushel baskets, it was as though a light bulb went off in my head. Why didn’t I think of that?! However, I wanted to create baskets that were inexpensive yet produced great results. I also wanted to free up garden space … so I created my own hanging basket version. Instead of using bushel baskets, I planted lettuce seed in hanging baskets, such as the type that hanging geraniums come in.
What I love about Lettuce Baskets is that they are easy to create, and they can hang from a hook, which frees up garden space. I plant several baskets and hang them from a Shepherd’s hook. When I grew lettuce in the garden, I had a horrible time keeping it weeded. The basket solution solved that problem. Plus, there are a lot of edible yet beautiful lettuce varieties. I like mixing red and green lettuces for color interest. Why not grow something attractive, healthy for you, and delicious?
The Earth Box Planter is a gift that I have been using for over ten years. That goes to show how durable it is. The Earth Box is a rectangular container, somewhat resembling a window box. However, it has a built-in water reservoir to maintain water levels.
If you need additional garden space, or wish a planting box for the deck or patio, then this solution might be for you. The box is heavy when loaded with soil, fertilizer and plants … so take that into consideration when selecting this gardening option.
My life with the Earth Box has been one of experimentation. It’s interesting to try new plants in it. I have grown bumper crops of carrots. I have also planted hot peppers in the Earth Box, wanting to keep the plants segregated from the main garden (and my other pepper plants). They did great!
And that leads me to Window Boxes. They aren’t just for flowers. Make sure the window box has holes drilled in the bottom for water drainage. The window boxes I purchased have allowed me great versatility in the garden and in the house.
Outside, I wanted to plant more carrots. Planting carrots in the garden always became a chore of weed control. However, by planting the carrots in the window box, I eliminated that problem. The carrots grew beautifully, and I knew right where to find them. When comparing my carrot crops to the Earth Box growing experience, the carrots in the Earth Box were larger.
I also use this window box indoors. My two indoor cats love their greens. I decided to create an indoor lawn for them. The experiment was a mixed success. The cats adored the lawn so much that they kept taking naps in the window box. Over time, they smothered much of the grass! Still, the window box idea is great for extending growing space both inside and outside the home.
The concept of growing plants in nutrient-rich water intrigued me. My family knew it, and bought me Emily’s Hydroponics Garden System. If you are looking for an alternative gardening method, this might be for you. This particular system came with a tray that held six planters. Everything for water gardening was included in the set. It was a great way to “get my feet wet” while exploring hydroponics.
I liked the idea of growing plants indoors under lights using this system. You can plant vegetables, herbs, or flowers. It’s a great way to garden without battling weeds or insects. If you have pets that dig up earth-filled pots, then going with a water garden might work better in the house.
Growing plants is so much a part of my life that I keep finding ways to extend the growing experience … and eking more space out of my yard.
Happy Gardening !
Dawn Lesley Stewart has enjoyed organic gardening for over forty years, learning at a young age from her father. First love is vegetable gardening followed by her interest in butterfly and bee habitats. She considers her yard a sanctuary for birds and wildlife. Her writing has appeared online and in print and has won writing awards. Dawn is the author of Harriet’s Horrible Hair Day (picture book), Mist-Seer (paranormal novel), and her newest book 300-Plus Quilting Tips, Tricks & Techniques features over 35 years of quilting knowledge.
Copyright 2010 Dawn Lesley Stewart