Small space - big impact

Garden area less than ideal? No problem. There’s always room to grow
By: Jane Rounsaville,Special to Home & Garden
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Got a green thumb, but not a lot of ground space? Just about any yard, balcony, or patio — no matter how small — can easily become a garden. “Even folks in an apartment hang a hanging basket up there on their balconies, and have herbs out and lettuce gardens,” Earlene Eisley-Freeman of Eisley Nursery in Auburn said recently. For novice growers, Eisley Nursery sells a product called Plantopia that has snap-in pocket inserts to take the guesswork out of growing plants in hanging baskets. Hanging baskets should be watered two times a day, every day through the summer. “Vinca is a good plant,” said Brad Roeder, owner of Yamasaki Nursery in Auburn. “It will droop down, cascade over the edges. That is a pretty hardy, easy maintenance plant.” Roeder recommends groundcover or small flowering plants like verbena and ajuga that bloom all summer long. “Other than that, there are always your typical annual colors, but that is kind of a black-and-white subject with people. They either like them, or they do not,” Roeder said. “Annual colors require a lot more water, more maintenance. You got to change them out three, four times a year, and you’ve got to water them at least once a day.” With the season changing, that adds even more choices. “We are coming into pansies, snapdragons and viola seasons,” Eisley said. “Primrose will be coming along here, but again it has got to cool down. It is going to cool done quite a bit.” Mums bloom twice a year, in the fall and spring. And Eisley advises gardeners to buy mums before they bloom, when they are just ready to bud. Many vegetables also work well in small spaces, as long as gardeners limit the amount of plants. “If you are planting carrots and that kind of thing, get them into the ground now,” Eisley said. She recommends leafy vegetables like chard, cabbages, spinach and lettuces. Peas, broccoli and cauliflower also work well. “If somebody has some space, maybe like 10 foot by 10 foot area — just a small chunk of dirt in their front yard, or somewhere they have got a courtyard, odd numbers are good,” Roeder said. “So, they may be picking one focal point plant, and then dressing up around it with another variety, but using maybe a quantity of three, five or seven of the same plants.” Layer plants with different colors and textures in half barrels, raised beds and ceramic urns. “A container is a container — whether it is clay, whether it is plastic, or an eco-friendly fiber thing,” Roeder said. “So, it really is just a personal preference, and what the individual wants to look at.” But, essentially, if you have a small space, think small. “People are going to want to stick with plants that max out probably around 2, 3 feet tall, 2 feet wide, or something that is very, very slow growing,” Roeder said. “There are dwarf pines, all kinds of pines. They grow really slowly, so those work out really well in small spaces. With a little bit of dirt, and some creativity, there is almost no limit to the possibilities. You are either looking at putting something in a pot and growing it, or if you got a small space of dirt, you could plant it.”