How to grow plants in small spaces

plantsWith the beginning of a brand new year comes the perfect opportunity to kick start your dreams of garden grandeur. Whether you have acres of land, a community garden patch, or simply a few centimetres of windowsill space, it’s all about getting the right thing planted in the right spaceat the right time and giving it a little TLC. It’s also a brilliant way of starting a project that involves the kids from start to finish.

Half the fun for parents and children alikeis scouring through the copious varieties of flowers, plants and vegetables available, picking out pretty colours and favourite foods and http://www.spaldingbulb.co.uk is a great place to do this. Here are some suggestions and tips on growing vegetables with the children, in even the smallest of spaces.

Believe it or not, your green-fingered antics can be a complete success with so little room as a window sill. It will however, be hugely important to make sure your windowsill of choice gets (preferably) at least five hours of direct sunlight a day during summer and each seedling is given plenty of space – no plant likes to be cramped!

A container of at least 15cm across is perfect for a herb like basil but if wanting to produce something more substantial in size such as beans, carrots or salad leaves for example,then don’t use anything smaller than a 25cm pot. The deeper the pot the better, as it will give scope for wider varieties of vegetables to grow – 20cm deep would be fine for your salad leaves but to give carrots and beans enough room to spread out during growth, 30cm deep is more suitable.

Growing indoors is becoming more and more popular for people without access to gardens or green space and now there’s even specially designed compost available to purchase for when growing in containers. The compost is designed to hold on to water better and is combined with extra nutrients to help kick start the growing process. Look for soil or loam-based composts, water-retaining granules and extra nutrients or plant food. Fill the pots to near the top and pat down – this can get messy so always best to put some newspaper underneath!

Once seeds are planted, keeping up with the watering of them is a great way to encourage some responsibility and really keep your children engaged with the growth process. Without natural rain water, indoor plants can often dry out but there’s a fine balance between that and drowning them. Before watering, ask your child to poke their finger in and if the compost is damp just below surface then your plant should be just right.

Once your plants get going, they’ll soon use up all the nutrients originally supplied in the compost, so make sure that giving them a feed every couple of weeks is added to the routine of watering. It’s all part of the process and great for highlighting the love and nurture that is needed in order for something to grow.

There are a lot of similarities to growing plants and vegetables on your window sill when growing on a balcony, but the latter offers a little more scope to the number and size of vegetables you can grow. With that bit more space, you can plant higher quantities of vegetables and even extend your range to courgettes, French beans and flowers!

This means investing in some grow bags. One alone would be enough for one courgette or at a push two but salad leaves sewn all overwould grow brilliantly. One tip is to place grow bags on top of each other to give extra depth. To do this, cut holes through the plastic to join the two and allow growth and water movement. This environment works well for beans but remember, they need a lot of water and prefer to climb up something as they grow – building a cane tepee is great for this.

Many of these vegetable plants produce beautiful flowers such as courgettes and beans, so grow these in the most open places – you could even plant some flowers among your vegetables to add some colour and elegance to your patch. Particularly good at looking pretty whilst discouraging pests are French marigolds but experiment… you won’t know until you try so give it a go and have fun!

This article was written by Amanda Walters, an experienced freelance writer and regular contributor to Huffington Post. Follow her here: @Amanda_W84