What I’ve Learned About Small Space Gardening

As most of you probably know I’ve been growing things on my little balcony for a few years now. I’m by no means a gardening expert, but I have learned a few things about small space gardening over that time. I thought I’d share some of those lessons with you all today, and I’d love to hear your thoughts as well!

What I've Learned About Small Space Gardening | I Spy Plum Pie

Choose high yielding plants

The thing about small space gardening is you’re unlikely to be able to grow enough to feed yourself. Instead, think about ways to get the most out of your space, and high yielding plants are key to this. Herbs are excellent for this – not only can you grow lots of them in small pots, but you generally only need a small amount when you’re cooking. They’re also one of the biggest culprits for food waste as well, so it’s an extra win there too.

I also find that spinach and lettuce are great year round high yielders, as are tomatoes and chillies in the warmer weather. Even within plant types there can be higher yielding varieties that are perfect for small spaces. Talk to the experts at your local nursery and get their advice on which varieties best suit your needs.

Soil quality is vital

If you’re planting in containers – which is always the case for balcony gardens – then soil quality is absolutely vital. The plants can’t get any nutrients unless they are already in the soil or are added through feeding, so if you want a successful garden you’ve got to help it out. This means starting with the best quality you can source, then feeding it whatever is needed for the plants you want to grow. Organic fertiliser is a good place to start!

Pests are still a thing

Even though I’m three storeys up, some sneaky pests still manage to get into my plants! I hadn’t really thought about the fact some kinds of bugs could easily still access my garden when I first started balcony gardening! Sure, I might not have to deal with rabbits eating my lettuce, or even that many snails, but it’s not all smooth sailing. Caterpillars and aphids are my biggest challenge and whilst I try and just pick off the caterpillars I use an eco-oil on the aphids.

Autumn Balcony Garden Update 2017 | I Spy Plum Pie

Flowers have a place as well

When I first started my balcony gardening adventures I was all about herbs and veggies. These days, whilst the majority of my pots are still filled with edibles, I’ve definitely become more aware of the value of planting flowers as well. Not only do they add some excellent colour into the mix, but if you choose well then they will bring bees into your garden. This can help pollinate your plants, and more broadly helps keep our population strong. You can even get edible flowers, which is a double win!

It won’t all work out, and that’s ok

I’ve had some great successes in my balcony gardening adventures, but I’ve had some giant fails as well.  Last summer, I planted a cucumber which yielded a grand total of zero fruits, one year I got just the solitary capsicum off a plant – I could go on! I quickly learned that the act of gardening is a huge part of why I’m doing this, so if sometimes it doesn’t work out, well that’s just the way it goes. It also means that now when I do have successes I’m all the more excited!

Start small, but use all your space

If you’re just getting started on a small space gardening adventure, then start off super small. Pick a few plants to try, and build over time as you learn more about what you like to grow and how much time you can commit to it. If you go all gung-ho and it doesn’t work out you may well get discouraged from trying again, and that would be a shame!

As you do build up over time get creative about how you use your space. I have a few different types of vertical planting systems – two attached to a wall and one freestanding – which are great space savers. Think about whether you can hang things from the ceiling, off the railing, or on tables. Before you know it you’ll have plants everywhere!

Do you do small space gardening as well? I’d love to hear your tips!

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10 Comments on What I’ve Learned About Small Space Gardening

  1. Jane Anderson
    November 30, 2017 at 11:15 pm (7 years ago)

    Hello Liz, It is very useful blog for them who loves gardening. You have shared an awesome point to get rid of mosquitoes and pests. I love the flower planting and it attracts the butterflies. I like it very much. Thanks for sharing your blog.

  2. Garden Irrigation products
    December 19, 2017 at 7:25 pm (7 years ago)

    Great tips! Thank you so much for your great article. loves your encouragement for trying a variety of flower planting . I am growing bitter melon this year and am using some of your ideas as a guide.Thanks again for this blog post. 🙂 XOXO

  3. Matthew
    January 21, 2018 at 5:21 am (6 years ago)

    Nice post. Years ago a friend who is into permaculture and introduced me to a book by a japanese garderner- Fukuoka who talks about spending more time on the soil rather then the plants. It totally changed the way I garden and my garden thrives.
    Matthew recently posted…Best Cover Material for Composting Toilets

  4. Products sell
    July 4, 2018 at 2:20 pm (6 years ago)

    Ah! What a beautiful idea. This is the way our mind desires. We can think a lot of these in our blog as well. Thank you for promoting tips and wonderful inspirations!

  5. Ava @ How to Get Rid of Wasps
    September 12, 2018 at 7:51 pm (6 years ago)

    Very clever tips! Small space garden is easier to maintain and doesn’t take up a lot of your time. Pests always find their way, however,the caterpillars specifically you can try and repel by spraying with a solution of garlic, dish soap, and water. This should keep them away.

  6. Rifat
    May 23, 2020 at 1:31 am (4 years ago)

    This is really a great article and a great read for me. It’s my first visit to your blog and I have found it so useful and informative. Thank you

  7. Saleh
    May 20, 2021 at 3:59 am (3 years ago)

    Gardening is a great hobby. I have been thinking about getting started with a home garden lately because I want to grow my own vegetables at home. Organic vegetables are just so much better. This post really helped me to understand where I should begin my journey. Thank you so much for these helpful tips. I agree with you that you have to start small. I guess that applies to anything you want to get good at. You got to get a beginning somewhere. Thanks a lot!
    Saleh recently posted…10 best electric fireplace and your buying guide.


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