No Space? No Excuse! Start to Grow Your Own Food

Reader Contribution by Mike Lieberman

A lot of people think that because they don’t have a lot of land or space that they can’t grow their own food. They also think that because they can’t grow tons of vegetables that it’s not worth the time or effort.

That can’t be further from the truth. Growing with limited space just takes a bit more creativity. If you grow just one herb or vegetable, it’s totally worth the time and effort. It will help to reestablish that connection that we’ve lost with our food, and will help to bring a new appreciation to what goes into growing it.

That’s where container gardening comes into play. It allows you to garden without the land, and has other advantages as well such as you can move them around and they’re less likely to get weeds. 

I have been apartment gardening since the spring of 2009 when I started on my fire escape in New York City. It was a small 2×3 area, but I was able to grow plenty of fresh organic produce. Since then, I’ve moved to LA and now have a balcony garden.

So growing without much land is definitely possible. Here’s how you can start your own vegetable container garden.

Decide on a Location
The first thing that you need to do is to identify the location of where you’d like to start your garden. 

One thing that I’d recommend is to consider how far from the water source your container garden will be. You don’t want to be carrying water all around your home, but there are ways around that.

Spacing Beyond the Ground
Once you decide on the location, you need to figure out how much space you have. Don’t just think of the space on the ground. Think outside of the box a little bit. Think windowsills, ledges, railings and the space above you. Get creative. 

Conditions of the Area
You’ll also need to get an idea as to how much sunlight the area gets. If it gets at least 2-3 hours of direct sunlight you are good to grow. My fire escape was north facing and got around 4-6 hours of direct sunlight, and I was able to grow plenty.

What to Grow In
You could very well go to the store and buy containers to plant your garden in. I make self-watering containers for my gardens. 

These use two containers and require little time to maintain. They use two 5-gallon containers that you can get from your local flower shop, deli, restaurant or farmers market. 

If you are planning on hanging some of your plants, then you can use 2-liter soda bottles to make hanging planters. This is another way to get around having to buy more materials. Herbs such as basil, oregano and mint do well in these.

What to Grow

The next thing you’ll have to decide is what you are going to plant and grow. There are a few ways you can go with this depending on how many containers you plan on having. You can grow things that you know you like and will eat or you can experiment with entirely new veggies or new versions of veggies that you like. It’s your call.

Since you’ll be container gardening and your space is limited, I’d suggest growing greens and lettuces because they don’t get to be too big. You can also get many harvests out of them. So they are a good value. 

I’d also recommend some herbs as well parsley, basil, mint and oregano do well. Herbs is likely the best value for growing. When you buy in the store, you have to buy a huge bushel of them when you only need a few sprigs. Most of it usually goes to waste. By growing your own, you can take what you need and let it continue to grow.

Now you have the starting point of getting your container garden set up. You don’t have to plant a huge garden. Just one plant will make a difference. Land, space, money and lack of experience shouldn’t deter you. I had none of them either. If I can do this, why can’t you?