Make the most of your outdoor space by growing these easy-care plants and herbs.
In 2021, gardening is no longer a hobby reserved for people with lots of outdoor space.
Whether you’ve got access to a shared courtyard, your own private balcony or a particularly sunny kitchen windowsill, nowadays, growing is all about making the most of what you’ve got.
The only problem? Knowing which plants will grow well in your space isn’t always easy. With so much information online, it can be hard to know which seeds to buy – especially if you’re a beginner looking for something that’s straightforward to grow and will yield quick results.
With this in mind, we reached out to Marcus Eyles, horticultural director at Dobbies garden centres, to find out more about growing in a small space.
From the best seeds to plant to the things you need to consider, here’s what he had to say.
What are your top tips for growing in a small space?
“You don’t require huge amounts of outdoor space to get growing, and the perfect example of this is balcony gardening,” Eyles says.
“Although balconies are usually narrow, that doesn’t mean there is not enough space to grow a variety of plants and even fresh produce.”
To start off, Eyles recommends making a plan for your space, taking into account the kind of plants you want to grow and where you’re going to grow them.
“A small space can offer big potential if designed with care, so planning is definitely key to make the most of the possibilities,” he says. “To start with, I’d suggest keeping it simple. Rather than attempting to incorporate lots of elements, which could also make the space seem busy, decide on one or two things to focus on.
“For example, a hanging basket to grow tomatoes or kitchen herbs, plus a few containers with low maintenance plants or seeds to add to each season.”
Things to remember before you start growing
On top of making time to plan your space, Eyles recommends keeping the following four points in mind to help you choose which plants to grow and inform how you care for them afterwards:
Light: “Before deciding on what to grow, it is best to check how much sun your balcony gets as this will dictate what will thrive,” Eyles says. “For example, to grow the biggest variety of vegetables, you need at least five to six hours of full sun a day.”
Wind: “Think about how sheltered the balcony is from the wind,” he suggests. “Plants will dry out quickly in windy conditions.”
Pots: “You’ll want to choose lightweight pots rather than stone and terracotta ones, as these will dry out fastest,” Eyles explains.
Space: “If you don’t have much ground space, choose saddle pots or rail rack planters,” Eyles advises. “These can both be hung over balcony railings.”
The best plants to grow on a balcony
If you’re looking for plants that’ll thrive on a balcony and are easy to look after, then look no further. Not only are these plants great for growing in small spaces, but their fast growth rates mean you should be able to see some signs of growth within three weeks of planting.
Sow these seeds now for results you can enjoy throughout the summer months.
Mixed Spicy Salad Leaves
Once fully grown, these leaves are an easy way to give your meals an extra dose of nutrients – simply add to a salad or stir fry. They’re also really simple to look after, and can even be grown on a windowsill or with grow-lights in your kitchen.
Basil Sweet Green
This variation on the traditional herb not only tastes great (its leaves have notes of mint and clove), but it’s also super easy to grow. You can choose to enjoy it as a microgreen when it’s tiny or allow it to grow until it reaches its full size.
Plus, basil goes with a lot of different recipes, so you can make the most of having it freshly grown.
Nasturtium Climbing Mixed
If you’re looking for a plant that’ll look and taste great, then opt for nasturtium. It’s climbing nature makes it great for covering fences and trellis, and because both its flowers and leaves are edible, you can use it in a range of different salads and dishes.
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