By Jimmy Deaton
Going Vertica….or getting the most from your small footprint of space!
Living in certain parts in the City of Alexandria can leave one challenged on what they can grow and how much. But a search of the internet can leave you with a multitude of ideas to conquer that patio or condo deck that has you scratching your head on what you could possibly grow in such small confines.
One of the ideas that I recently did at work was to make a raised herb container garden that took up about 2 square feet of space but yet housed 9 herbs, most that are used on a regular basis by most cooks. In the pictures you’ll find, chives, oregano, parsley, thyme, sweet Woodruf, mint, 2 types of lavender and one rosemary. Now, I normally would not add the lavender or rosemary but when I made this, this was all that I had on hand at the time so I went with it. And yes you can use those two herbs a well just not something I would choose.
So how does one do this you may ask? The first thing is to find yourself different pots of different sizes. You also need something to raise and fill in some of the space on the inside diameter of the upright pots. I used a regular pot but you can also use a plastic pot, soda bottle, etc. The idea is to fill in the area that would normally be filled with potting mix; depending on the pot sizes you are using, you may wish to fill in some of the ‘dead’ space or not. Try to leave about 3-4 inches of space from the bottom then fill in pot to the outside portion….3/4 inches deep.
Fill each pot with potting mix to the top of each ‘fill in pot’, fill the area with herbs, flowers, place another pot on top of the fill in and continue the sequence. It’s so easy to raise herbs and salad greens this way. If you did a 2 square foot area on each one within 4 square feet total you could have several different herbs and salad greens to provide you with nutritious meals throughout the growing season.
I plan on showing how to create a growing space using a wooden pallet. This will give you another version of a raised bed. My plants weren’t mature enough at the time of this writing to plant. Regardless, I’ll give you the 411 next month on how to do it and you can try it this summer or better yet this fall with cold season veggies such has cabbage, kale, etc.
You can also grow bush tomatoes or cucumbers during the summer as well as zucchini in containers but keep in mind that you have to make sure you have a plan for caging or trellising them in order to keep the fruit off of the ground. The other thing you may wish to think about are the smaller veggies such has Mexican Sour Gherkins or Dragons Eggs which are Chinese Cucumbers that are about the size of an egg.
A majority of veggies can be grown in small spaces and are perfect for the small scale gardener. Just by doing some basic research you, too, can be utilizing that small space you had no idea what to do with.
On April 16th, we will be holding a veggie and herb sale at 3510 Wilson Avenue between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. benefiting various organizations, for more details go to the Lynnhaven Greens website. See ad in this section.