From balconies in Miami to vacant lots in Los Angeles to tiny apartment kitchens in Detroit, the small space gardening movement is creating healthy and affordable food options for a new generation.
Urban Oko is one of the pioneers in this new movement. She grew a beautiful and nutrient-rich garden on an apartment balcony in Miami.
Now she teaches thousands of followers on YouTube and Instagram how to make the most of their space and grow real food.
Small Space Gardening Movement
Growing food is an ancient practice that all humans can participate in. You may think that because you live in a small space, you don’t have many options for growing your own food.
Thankfully, recent developments in planting materials are making it easier for anyone to grow food no matter where they live.
TheSpruce contributor Marie Iannotti puts it like this:
“You don’t need a lot of space to grow fresh vegetables, herbs, and fruits. You don’t really even need a garden. As long as you have a pot, some dirt, water, and sun, you can grow some tasty things. Plant breeders know that after taste, home gardeners want a high yield in a small space, so they develop varieties that can grow in a small footprint or even live in containers all year long.”
Hydroponic gardening is a great solution for small-space gardening. It incorporates vertical planting to save on floor space and doesn’t require huge beds of soil.
You can buy hydroponic grow kits that give you a wide variety of options in terms of space and grow materials.
If you want to do everything yourself, kitchen gardener Tikko O. showed us how to grow lettuce indoors with Rockwool.
“I plant these seeds in cubes of Rockwool. This is used in hydroponics as a grow medium instead of soil. It is actually made from molten rock that is spun into cotton candy-like fibers and then compressed into cubes.”
Katherine Crouch, who was named the BBC’s “Gardener of The Decade,” created a lovely vegetable garden with a few poles and few feet of space in a back-lot. She learned her technique as she downsized her own life.
“20 years ago I used to grow all sorts of vegetables in a lovely vegetable garden, but now I only live in a tiny house with not much space. I’m going to show you just how much you can grow in one square meter.”
Use a Planter
There are hundreds of innovative planters designed for any kind of space.
IKEA is big on providing gardening solutions to small spaces dwellers, and they have a lot of ideas for incorporating gardens into your home.
Special multipurpose furniture can act as room dividers while also supporting the growth of small herbs. IKEA knows that indoor farming is the future, as more and more people move to cities for work and culture.
But you don’t have to buy a planter! Check out these tips from The Micro Gardener for turning everyday objects into planters:
“Steps, terraces, and ladders are crying out to be utilized as practical growing spaces and are a simple solution for many people. Steps are engineered to be structurally strong so can take heavier weights such as fruit trees in pots, feature plants, and large containers.”
Another great way to grow food in small spaces is to sprout seeds and regrow vegetables from scraps. Many vegetables like potatoes, green onions, and more can actually be regrown if given water and cared for regularly.
If you want highly nutritious food without exerting much effort or using too much counter space, then sprouting is the solution.
One urban gardener at Learn To Grow showed how she regrew ten store-bought vegetables in a single month.
“You can get leafy greens and seeds for free! It’s such a great activity that you can also do with your kids at home.”
It’s important to note that some store-bought vegetables don’t grow well this way. Items like potatoes are sprayed to prevent spuds from growing on them while in the store, and the same applies to most produce that is chemically treated in any way to promote long life on the shelf.
The Bottom Line
Your bit of earth can be indoor or outdoor, big or small.
Anyone can start their own garden and grow their own food with small-space gardening practices. All it takes is some determination and the desire for healthy, delicious, and local food.