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Myth: You need lots of land or space to garden

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Apartment-dwellers need not miss out on the pleasures of gardening – plenty of plants thrive in pots and garden bags, set up in small areas. They are a good option for people who want to garden but don’t have any access to land. They add a nice "green feature" to flats and apartments, adding living colour to verandas, patios, steps, kitchens and other indoor areas.

This style of gardening requires less weeding and is quick to set up.

A plastic pot part-filled from the bottom with reused polystyrene crumbs reduces overall weight, making it easier to take your garden with you when you next move.

Container gardens are ideal for small trees which you'd wish to prune, shrubs, flowers, herbs and annual vegetables like tomatoes, lettuces, beetroot, courgettes and carrots. All you need is a punnet of seedlings, a bag of potting mix, and some garden pots or growing bags. Once under way, remember to water the plants every couple of days as they will dry out faster than if they were in a garden.

Some tips for setting up a container garden:

Ensure your pot or container surface is not coloured too dark – it might absorb too much sun and become too hot for the plant roots.
Use an appropriate size pot for the type of plant you want to grow and do not overcrowd if planting several seedlings– all plants need a certain amount of room to spread their root system (ask for advice when you buy your seedlings).
Get a good quality potting mixture, including compost. “Seed mix” potting mixture will not feed plants sufficiently after the seed germination stage.
Ensure the pot has holes at the bottom for drainage.
Place pots to get good sunlight (five or more hours a day).
Put plants with similar water needs in the same pot, or put pots next to each other.
Pots are great for growing herb gardens close to the kitchen where they can be readily used, providing a cost-effective supply of fresh flavour for your meals. Herbs such as mint and rosemary are quite hardy and don’t require much attention, while herbs like basil need a little more food and care. Check gardening centres for advice on plant care.

Another alternative is to become part of a city community garden, where you can share garden maintenance and harvests with others. Visit your local council website to find out if there’s one in your suburb.

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