If you don't have the lawn space to put in a big garden, you don't have to spend this season envying your friends' gardens. Microgardening is a big trend for those who are short on gardening space but still want to grow healthy vegetables, herbs and other foods, as well as vibrant flowers and greenery.
*What Is Microgardening?
Microgardening is gardening in a small space. It might be a container garden comprised of several planters filled with lettuce, carrots, beets and chives or a single tomato plant in an urn. If you're very short on space, vertical gardening is a smart solution that provides tiers of planting space extending upward.
Microgardens can be tended indoors or outdoors, but many people opt for indoor planters so they can control the heat and humidity levels surrounding their plants. Indoor gardens are also protected from pests who want to steal your harvest. And scent-free fertilizer sticks can keep your plants fed without the hassle, mess and smell of traditional garden-spread fertilizer. If physical mobility is an issue for you, microgardening indoors or on your terrace can allow you to enjoy gardening without strenuous labor or a long trek out to the garden.
*What Can You Grow in a Microgarden?
Grow what you love! Anne Gibson, author of the Micro Gardener blog, suggests planting what you and your family love to eat, adding your own personal, whimsical touches to your garden, no matter how small it is. A personalized sign or DIY herb ID sticks connect you further to your microgarden.
Growing healthy foods improves your diet and also cuts down on your weekly grocery budget. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, a well-tended microgarden of 11 square feet can produce as much as 200 tomatoes a year, 36 heads of lettuce every 60 days, 10 cabbages every 90 days and 100 onions every 120 days. Eliminating some veggies, herbs and greens from your grocery shopping can save you enough money to allow for some indulgences or allow you to spend money more comfortably on other needs.
*How to Establish a Microgarden
First, decide on your location. Choose between an indoor and outdoor garden, and then measure out the space you can devote to your garden so that you can purchase (or repurpose your used) plant containers. Some home gardeners like the look of terra cotta pots, and others use their flea market finds of old desk drawers and metal watering cans to host their plants. If you're considering a terrace garden, you may wish to rearrange your terrace furniture -- or clear away nonessential items -- to make room for your garden. If you live in a retirement community, you may have access to a community garden, where you can claim your plot and plant your harvest. You may wish to grow your plants from seed indoors and then transfer your seedlings to outdoor pots when the time is right, so make sure you prepare adequate room in your indoor living space to help those seeds grow.
Next, choose your plants. You can use the free interactive garden-planning tool at the Better Homes and Gardens website. Just enter the exact dimensions of your microgarden space, and then get a template to design your plants. Combine different kinds of herbs in one planter to save space, or line up single pots attractively on your windowsill.
Consult with a garden center expert when you're shopping for your plants, sharing with that expert the lighting conditions of your chosen planting space, to get good advice on what to plant when and how best to tend your garden.
Research all you can about the proper maintenance of your chosen plants so that the money you spend on your containers, soil and plants returns well on your investment and so that gardening continues to be a joy for you. It's rewarding to see your plants thriving.