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August 24, 2016

What to Grow in a Small Garden


Do you long for a garden but don't have the space for one? Is your yard too small, or do you live in an apartment and only have a patio or balcony? I know that some of you are still wishing to move to a homestead with more land, and that others of you are homesteading where you are, whether it's a suburban home or an urban apartment.

What to grow in a patio garden.

You can still have a small garden. And while many people think that August means the end of gardening season, it's not too late to plant a fall garden in most areas. Or start planning now, gather your pots and containers, and get growing early next spring.

So let's say that you have a small patio or balcony off your apartment or condo. You'll need to use containers, of course. The size and shape of your containers will depend on the kinds of plants you want to grow.

You can grow root vegetables like beets in a container garden.
Source: morguefile.com
Root crops such as beets, carrots, radishes, onions and garlic do well in wide pots that are at least twelve inches deep. The plant part above the ground is usually a bit sparse, so you'll need to space the plants according to what's growing underground. Young beets are more tender than large, more mature beets, by the way, so you can squeeze a few more plants in the container a little more closely than recommended. There are several varieties of small carrots, and radishes are small just because they're radishes.

Greens are easy to grow in patio and balcony gardens.
Source: morguefile.com

Greens such as lettuce and spinach are excellent candidates for container growing. You might choose a packet of mixed gourmet lettuce varieties for delicious salads. Cut your lettuce and spinach leaves as you need them, leaving the rest of the plant to continue growing.


Medium-sized fruiting plants such as peppers, eggplant, beans and peas require larger containers, but the plants aren't oversized. Choose bush beans instead of pole beans. You might need to stake these plants.

Look for small-growing tomato varieties to grow in containers.

There are several varieties of small tomato plants. You won't be able to grow a dinner plate-sized beefsteak, but salad tomatoes are a definite possibility. You'll probably need to stake these plants too, or use tomato cages.

You can also grow small melons and cucumbers. These will need a trellis of some sort, which you might be able to lean up against a wall or balcony railing.

Can you grow zucchini in a container? Yes, you can!

Zucchini can be grown in a wide container. The plants get large but they don't spread very much.

Some plants are even multi-purpose. You can eat beet greens in salads or put them in smoothies. The greens from young onions can be snipped like chives, or you can eat the young plants as green onions.

Most herbs grow very well in containers, and are pretty too.

Herbs are another great candidate for container-growing. Chances are you can grow your favorite herbs on your patio or even a windowsill. Many herb plants have beautiful flowers too, which is a bonus.

A shelf of potted herbs on a balcony or patio is visually appealing as well as food-producing.

Kitty litter buckets make good plant containers; ask your cat-owning friends to save their empties for you. Check out farm stores such as Tractor Supply and farm-and-fleet type stores for large black rubber feed bowls or small water troughs to use as containers. Five-gallon buckets are a staple for container gardens. Be sure to drill holes near the bottom of all containers for drainage; most plants don't like having wet roots.

Do be considerate of neighbors when you water your container garden. Water dripping from an overhead balcony might not make you a favorite neighbor.

Enjoy the produce from your small garden and the "fruits" of your labor.



This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at:
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34 comments:

  1. What a lot of great healthy looking crops :) Especially the beetroot, I've tried growing it time and again, without any luck to date - they just never reach a decent size, and the flavour leaves a lot to be desired.

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    1. Thank you, Catherine. I hope you can figure out why your beets aren't growing well. Some people say beets taste like dirt. I've never thought so, but perhaps in some soils they do?

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  2. Hi Kathi,
    I love you garden patio ideas. There are many plants that you can grow on a small place and in pots that do very well as you have shown. I love your pictures too. Sharing

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    1. Thank you for sharing the post, Marla! I appreciate it.

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  3. Kathi, you have inspired me! But not to plant a fall garden; that's a bit soon for me to get off the dime. But spring? Yes!

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    1. Oh good! I'm so glad that I've inspired you, Jean. Keep us updated on your adventure, please.

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  4. Great suggestions! I've really only thought about herbs, and never would have thought about growing root veggies! Thanks for sharing on #sustainablesunday

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    1. Katy, herbs are extremely easy to grow in containers.

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  5. I've thought about doing a "patio garden" in my house through the winter...somehow. It's so hard having a short growing season! It seems like somethings would work inside though, wouldn't it? :)

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    1. Absolutely some plants work well indoors. This week I'm doing a post on shady gardens; most of the plants and advice in that one will apply to indoor gardens as well. I hope it's helpful.

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  6. DIY garden looks very nice, thanks for sharing with Hearth and soul blog hop, pinning

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    1. Thank you Swathi. Have a great week!

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  7. I did sweet potatoes in a raised bed and they went everywhere, but they just grew and grew and now I have a ton!it worked out great! Stopping by from Country Fair Blog Party!

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    1. Sweet potatoes can be a space hog! They're pretty though, as well as producing something very tasty and useful. Thank you for stopping by, Jan.

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  8. Love the idea. I can move the tomato plants around in the hot ga sun and out of it if I need to :D

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    1. The best reason to use containers!

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  9. Hello! Thanks for sharing. I want to grow a garden so badly but have a horrible black thumb. lol This is the year I make it happen though.

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    1. Good for you, Gabrielle, for not giving up! Start small the first year, and good luck!

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  10. The kitty litter bucket idea is perfect! A friend offered to give us some buckets to build nesting boxes. She then brought 30 of them! So, the nesting boxes are built and I still have 20 buckets left. I didn't want to send them to the land fill, so I've been storing them hoping for inspiration. Thanks, for sending the inspiration. I'm hoping maybe I could put eggplants and tomatoes in some of them. I'm running short of garden room and the great expansion plans can't happen until next year.

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    1. They do make excellent plant containers! Here are a few more ideas to use up the extras, Anne - 20 Ways to Re-Use Kitty Litter Buckets

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  11. I wouldn't have though about growing root vegetables in a container. Neat idea. Thanks for sharing on the #WasteLessWednesday Blog Hop!

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    1. Most root veggies grow well in containers, as long as the container is big enough. Thanks!

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  12. I wish I had a balcony! Alas, all I can grow on my north-facing, city window sills so far are microgreens and sprouts. But they do make for tasty additions to salads. If ever I get a balcony again ...

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    1. I'm sorry you don't have a balcony, Kathryn. I hope that you'll have one again someday!

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  13. You are being featured over at the Homestead Blog Hop this week Kathi! Thanks for sharing such a great post!

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    1. Thank you so much, Jennifer!

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  14. You are so right and there is such a lot of veg you can grown even with the smallest of gardens. 💚 I just need the weather to warm up as I am itching to get growing but know I still need to wait a bit longer. #WasteLessWednesday

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    1. It's tempting to plant too early, isn't it?

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    2. I am going to do parsnips inside loo roll inners later this afternoon and maybe some sweet peas. Spring is hopefully on her way and at least both these are hardy.

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    3. Those are perfect early-spring plants. I've never grown parsnips but I enjoy them in stew. :-)

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  15. You have so great tips here. There are many plants you can grow in small pots or large pots and you can make use of the smallest areas. Pinned & tweeted.

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  16. I grow a lot of my plants in containers because I don't have any land at my floating cabin. I space the pots out around the cabin deck so their isn't too much weight in any one spot. I've grown lots of the things you mentioned, but I save my root crops for my floating garden. - Margy

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    1. How interesting, Margy! I'd love to hear more about your floating garden sometime.

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