Monday, July 16, 2012

Small Space Gardening on a Budget

My Grandpa bought me a book called In a Japanese Garden by Charmaine Aserappa with original woodcuts by Akiko Maomura for my birthday. It is full of short phrases about each component of a Japanese garden and a corresponding image (woodcut).  At the end there is a description of Japanese gardens and what they mean, “not merely decorative, but meticulously designed and maintained as meditative spaces for contemplation, refreshment and reflection.” I hope I can find both refreshment and order in my garden space.

Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Small Space Gardening on a Budget


If you’ve read my other posts you may know that this summer my biggest project has been my balcony garden. It all began with the Hanging Gutter Garden Part 1 and Part 2. While the gutter garden was certainly the most intensive of my projects this summer, it was not the only one.  You may remember this flower tower mentioned in this post; let me tell you how I made my version.


Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Small Space Gardening on a Budget My Version

Materials:
  • Decreasing sizes of pots – you can use any number of pots I used four (they should have holes in the bottom).  I got the three terra cotta pots from Michael’s for fairly cheap (sale + coupons) and the big plastic pot from WalMart for about $7 bucks and I didn’t need to buy a water collection dish because it has it’s own draining mechanism built it.
  • Long metal rod – I used one of those threaded rods they have at Home Depot. I will be the first to admit that I have no idea what it’s actually for but it was cheaper than buying rebar (and I didn’t have to cut it).
  • Plants – I lucked out because the King Soopers had a big sale on flowers (10 4-packs for $10) I also bought the potato vines for about $2.50 because I love the way they look. Any annuals will do, you could even plant edible plants or herbs.
  • Soil – I used some with water beads since it’s been so dry, but any kind will do.

You start by filling the base pot half-full with soil. Stick the rod in the center, slide the next pot down the rod.  Fill that pot halfway with soil and repeat the process with the remaining pots. If the rod sticks out the top, simply add more soil between pots. Then plant your flowers or what have you as you normally would. Simple right?


Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Small Space Gardening on a Budget “Be the bud. Prepare to blossom.”

The remaining flowers are planted in flowerpots around the railings.


Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Small Space Gardening on a Budget


Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Small Space Gardening on a Budget “Be the gardener. Create order.”

I also mentioned that I wanted to plant tomatoes and peppers in pots. I used water walls to increase their growing season. Here are my results.


Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Small Space Gardening on a Budget I used fallen branches as support (free vs. not free... I choose free)
Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Small Space Gardening on a BudgetThis is the third ripe tomato so far.

Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Small Space Gardening on a Budget


Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Small Space Gardening on a Budget My First Pepper

My strawberry plant is in a hanging basket. It’s been doing well, only the birds keep getting the fruit before I do. I would mind more if they weren’t so dang cute and didn’t sing such pretty songs to me while I drink my tea in the morning.


Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Small Space Gardening on a Budget

I also ended up planting peas from seed using this tutorial. They started out growing like mad; I harvested two bowls of peas in their peak. However, it turns out container gardening is quite difficult.  I think I over-watered them causing their roots to run out of oxygen and rot, finally they started dying off. I’m too embarrassed to share the picture. On the bright side there is some re-growth now that the soil has dried out a bit.

The final addition to my farm was sort of last minute. I had an extra pot and some carrot seeds so I planted them in the pot. I've never heard of this being done and this is crazy (but here's my number, so call me maybe). Anyway we'll see how it turns out; all I have at the moment is greens. I did a thinning last week so hopefully the carrots start being carrots.


Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Small Space Gardening on a Budget My watering can is in the front (isn't it cute?). The carrots are in the terra cotta pot just behind the watering can.

As for this project, I couldn’t figure out a way to stabilize it. I think the best way would be to drive the rebar deep into the ground.  Well I don’t have ground, I have concrete and a wooden railing.  I scratched that project but my grandmother found these cute colorful pots at the dollar store.  She bought a bunch and I am using them for herbs (I realize now this is better because I can bring them inside this winter). P.S. Notice the tomato on the window sill through the window. :)


Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Small Space Gardening on a Budget 


From left to right: dill, cilantro (used to be cilantro), spearmint, lemon balm, oregano, basil, spring onions
They sit on my air conditioner

“Be the seasons. Welcome change.”
Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Small Space Gardening on a BudgetRosemary Bush
I wanted a way to enjoy my space so I have been keeping my eyes open for a small-ish patio set.  This bistro set caught my eye at Home Depot. At that point I told my parents about it and guess what I got for my birthday? Well see for yourself.


Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Small Space Gardening on a Budget
It didn’t come with the cushions, those were a separate gift from my grandparents.

You can see the grill in the background; Reid has wanted a grill since, as long as I’ve known him (and we just celebrated our 3 year anniversary last week). We found this charcoal grill at a flea market in south (SOUTH) Fort Collins for $12.  One night he was grilling as the sun was setting and it started getting too dark for him to see. He used his camping headlamp that night but the next day he went out and got a strand of lights to hang from the ceiling. Now it feels like an outdoor café.

“Be the moth. Seek the light.
Be the lantern. Guide the lost.”

We also found two wind chimes (and I made a third)


Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Small Space Gardening on a Budget


Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Small Space Gardening on a Budget “Be the wind chime. Let the breeze blow through you. Turn the storms into song.”

Now that all the hard work is done I have had the chance to relax in and enjoy the space. We eat dinner at our café, I read books in the morning with my breakfast and tea, and I tend and water the plants (the best part of container gardening is that there are no weeds, only insect pests). Though it took most of my savings to set it up I have no regrets about the rewarding outcome. My first real experience with gardening has overall been successful, maybe not bountiful, but successful none-the-less.

Leave a comment; I need all the advice I can get. What are your best gardening tips?