Grow your own small vegetable garden

Even the smallest space can produce plenty of vegetables, even a patio can

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

I am no market gardener, that's for sure, and I have varied success with my own small garden in that fashion but that is due to the location and the fact that I get overrun by slugs and snails and also the squirrels and pigeons think that my garden is a feeding station for them. Well, it is not but try telling them that.

Also, I must add that I am not the most consistent home gardener, as I am often too busy with writing material for the many magazines that I own and edit.

However, while I doubt that most families could become entirely self-sufficient (then again, is complete self-sufficiency even possible?) in the suburbs on their patio and/or small part of garden that they are often only willing to sacrifice for food growing, the food thus grown can go someways towards reducing food miles and costs.

Obviously, the bigger the area the more food you can grow. But, having said that, lots can be done in a small space. This was shown at the “Grand Designs Live” exhibition with the small garden that was shown there and also in other places. It is possible.

If you do not want to build raised beds with timber, bricks or whatever, then there are nowadays a couple of companies that produce “clickable” plastic siding that make then up a raised beds. But be warned! They are not cheap but they will last nigh on forever, unlike timber.

However, there are many other options for building a small garden – I mean other than digging up the ground. On a patio you would not and could not do that anyway. So, here comes “container gardening”.

There are containers and there are containers for gardening, obviously, From the old style terracotta put and tub to the plastic ones and everything else. You do not even have to go and buy such containers, as they can often be found thrown away. Old washing-up bowls can be used, the pots that contained trees from nurseries, the barrels that contained cooking oils – cut in half makes two – and many more. In addition to that there are the large bags in which building sands and the likes comes nowadays. Fold over the sides and – voila – one square raised bed of rather some depth.

The tubs presently mentioned all – bar the containers that once will have had trees in them – will require holes for drainage drilled into the bottom. I handle that quite simply and quickly here; a few shots of target practice with a .22 air rifle and, well, drainage holes. Who said they had to be x-amount of millimeter in size and perfectly round?

That is container gardening on the cheap, basically. It beats – in cost at least – any store bought tubs for plastic tub/container gardening.

In addition to that there are other containers that can be employed as well. Know of an old bathtub, whether iron (well, they are worth money...) or fiberglass? They too make great planters for vegetables.

There have been articles around about the advantages of growing your own vegetables and in them it is pointed out that not only do people waste less food by being able to go pick fresh vegetables when they need them, but the cost of having a small garden compared to buying fresh produce from the grocery store can save us all a lot on food.

So, what's stopping you?

© M Smith (Veshengro), July 2008