Small space gardening

Archive for the ‘Growing veggies vertically’ Category

Grow Veggies in One Square Foot Of Soil–Really!

No excuses. Almost everybody has one square foot of soil. If you don’t have it in the ground, you certainly can have it in a pot. And that’s all you need to grow cucumbers. Ok. And sun too. You’ll definitely need sun. Six hours minimum.

So if you’re a cucumber fan and haven’t tried growing pickling cucumbers, why not live dangerously and plant some? I’ve grown them every year since nearly the beginning of time. The appeal for me is they have a great flavor without those pesky, chewy seeds, and they can easily be grown on a lightweight trellis–including a trellis popped into a pot. And to clarify, pickling cucumbers can be eaten raw just like regular cucumbers–they’re not just for pickling.

Last spring, I was planting in my side yard, and noticed a smidge of earth about a foot square that was empty. This gardener never has an empty spot of earth. Never.

So I decided to plant some pickling cucumbers in that little spot. Once the seedlings popped their little green heads out of the soil, and I could see they were going to be happy there, I decided I’d better come up with some sort of cucumber jungle gym for the little guys. I found some bamboo poles in my garage that I’d picked up at a garage sale the prior summer, and decided to make a simple obelisk-type structure out of them.

Had I given this a little more thought at planting time, I wouldn’t have planted the seeds in a row. I would have put the trellis in the ground first, planted a couple of seeds at the base of each pole, and pulled out the “runt” as soon as it became evident which was the weaker of the two. But the truth is, I didn’t plan ahead so I had to wing it. There now…we’ve all learned from my mistake.

 Small-space gardening / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Construction was as easy as it gets. Shove the poles in the ground, and tie them at the top. Incidentally, even my twine was a garage sale bargain, so this trellis cost me almost nothing.

This set up is a good way to go if you have trouble bending down because after the initial planting, you don’t have to search around on the ground for cucumbers. I grow my green beans vertically too–on my wood fence for that very reason (See my post “How To Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence“). I don’t have problems bending down, I just work smarter, not harder, as they say. Plus, the critters can’t get to the veggies as easily if they’re up in the air. If they want a cucumber, they have to work for it at my house!

Small-space gardening / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Since I wasn’t on the ball with the original seed placement, I had to keep a close eye on the vines as they started to grow, nudging them in the right direction so they each had their own pole to climb. If you don’t give them some guidance, and check on them often, you’ll have some major tangles on your hands. Those delicate-looking tendrils are like a plant version of a python. Once they curl around each other, they are not going to let go, and it’s hard to get them untangled without damaging them.

 Grow Veggies in One Square Foot Of Soil--Really! / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Grow Veggies in One Square Foot Of Soil--Really! / MyUrbanGardenOasis

This method turned out to be the best one I’ve tried for growing cucumbers. I had more cucumbers than I could eat from these four vines in one square foot of soil, and I can eat a lot of cucumbers. When planted on a vertical structure, the fruit is easy to see and harvest, and the open form ensures good air flow. Cucumbers are prone to powdery mildew (at least mine are), and good air circulation can help prevent it from attacking the foliage. Here are my vines when they were almost to the top of the poles.

Grow Veggies in One Square Foot Of Soil--Really! / MyUrbanGardenOasis

“To each his own” is a phrase I use often. But I gotta say, it baffles me that there are humans on planet earth who don’t grow their own vegetables. Seriously. Shell out a couple of dollars for a packet of seeds or a couple of transplants, and you can have fresh, chemical-free vegetables all summer. I’ve successfully planted leftover seeds that are up to three and four years old, so it’s very cost-effective. My yard is tiny, so I plant a little bit of a several different vegetables; some in the ground, some in pots and many vertically. Vegetables are planted among my landscape bushes and flower beds. Here are some veggie pots from the past couple of years.

Grow Veggies in One Square Foot Of Soil--Really! / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Grow Veggies in One Square Foot Of Soil--Really! / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Grow Veggies in One Square Foot Of Soil--Really! / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Grow Veggies in One Square Foot Of Soil--Really! / MyUrbanGardenOasis

I’m not suggesting everybody plant a huge garden or even a small raised bed, because there is a time commitment with a garden. I’m saying just try planting your favorite vegetable in one square foot of quality soil or a pot that receives at least six hours of full sun, and see where it takes you. Most folks get bit by the gardening bug, and go bigger each summer.

Then again, there are people like Sheri, my best friend in the world who has never, to my knowledge, planted a single seed in her life. She’s not afraid of getting bit by the gardening bug. She’s afraid of getting bit by any bug–not an outdoor sorta girl. My friends Kim and Sam shamelessly wait for their co-workers to bring their overflow veggies to work to share. And my son, Ross, is a veggie lover and homeowner with his very own dirt, but I haven’t managed to persuade him to plant veggies yet either. To the non-gardeners in my life, I adore you, but I just don’t understand. Apparently you don’t need gardening “therapy” like I do!

This post was written by Tracy Evans, who is a certified Home Stager and Redesigner, a journeyman painter and an avid gardener. If you have an interest in Redesign, please feel free to check her other blog at HomeStagingBloomingtonIl. You can find additional before and after pictures on her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com.

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How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence

I have the world’s smallest yard, and am always looking for ways to grow more veggies using every square inch. Here’s a great way to grow vining vegetables or flowers using a privacy fence, wire, string and some screw eyes.

Being a garage sale addict has its advantages. Last year I bought these nifty thing-a-majigs thinking they’d come in handy some day. And they certainly did! I’m not exactly sure what they were designed for–something to do with tv cables or some such thing. By the packaging, they appear to be from an era long before the invention of the television, but I’m sure if you look around at the hardware store you can find something similar. For five packages at 25 cents a piece, I paid a whopping $1.25 for the bunch. Not bad. I like these because they’re 7 1/2″ long, and will keep my vines away from my fence so they have good air circulation. We gardeners know that good air circulation means fewer diseases.

 How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Also purchased at garage sales, is my stash of wires and strings that I can use for my fence “trellis”. My personal favorite is fishing line. I always pick up fishing line at garage sales, and I always run out of it. Oddly enough, I don’t fish, but I use it like most people use duck tape. For this project, I decided to use wire for the horizontal lines, and fishing line for the vertical ones.

How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

I made my trellis for green beans, because you can’t have a garden without green beans. You just can’t. Beans come in bush and pole varieties, so be sure to read the package to make sure you get pole beans if that’s your veggie of choice for your trellis. You’ll be highly disappointed if you purchase bush beans because they will show no interest whatsoever in your trellis, and they’ll just hang out happily on the ground.

I planted my beans on the north side of my fence, and was concerned about whether or not they would grow since the fence will shade them all morning. So I actually planted my beans, and made sure they looked like they were going to grow before I went to the trouble of making a trellis. A benefit, I discovered, in planting on the north side of a fence is that the shade helps keep the soil moist longer. Here are my little babies.

 How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

On the left in the photo below is bok choy which was temporarily sharing the space with my green beans. It’s a cool-weather crop here in zone 5, and was harvested throughout the spring and early summer, and then the green beans got the space all to themselves.

 How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

And this little guy is searching for his trellis!

How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Once I was confident that beans would grow in this location, I decided how I wanted to space my screws to make a top row, a middle row and a bottom row. Then, I found a drill bit that was a tad smaller than my screws so I could pre-drill all my holes.

 How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

I made sure I placed the screw eyes so they would go through the 1 x 6 fence board as well as the 2 x 4 brace. I placed them about two feet apart.

 How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

They’re difficult to see, but this picture shows all my screw eyes installed. They’re easier to screw into the fence if you stick a screwdriver into the circle once you get them started. Then you just crank that screwdriver like nobody’s business, and you’re done in no time.

 How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Then it was time to install the horizontal wires through the screw eyes. This process would’ve been much faster if I had just woven my wire into one screw and out into the next one. But I wanted to be sure that if I had a wire malfunction, I wouldn’t lose the whole trellis. So I tied my wire to each screw eye individually, cut it, and started a new wire in between each screw eye. This way, if my wire were to break, I would only have to replace one small section.

How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Then I checked my green bean package to find out what the spacing should be between plants so I would know how far apart to put my vertical fishing lines. I spaced mine about 6 to 8 inches apart. I would recommend not putting them any closer together than six inches because you want good air flow, you don’t want a tangled mess and you’ll have an easier time seeing the beans when it’s time to pick them.

I tied my fishing line to the top wire, looped it around the middle wire, and then tied it to the bottom wire. I must admit, while I was tying knot after endless knot, I was thinking there were many activities I’d have found more enjoyable, but we reap what we sow, right? And I was wanting to reap lots of green beans so I sucked it up buttercup, and “sowed” a bazillion knots. Finally, my trellis was ready for plants. I had more plants than wires in the beginning, but thinned them out so that each vine matched up with a string.

 photo IMG_3459.jpg

 How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Some plants latched on and wrapped around on their own.

How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Some plants needed some loving guidance.

 How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

As the vines started to reach the fishing lines, I had to keep an eye on them so that each plant twined around the string that was meant for it to climb. Once they grabbed on, I didn’t have to watch them quite so closely.

How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

The vines even grew through and over my fence, and I was picking green beans from both sides! Next year, I’ll know that once the vines reach the top of the fence, I need to flip them over to the other side. Some didn’t make it over, resulting in some tangles which makes it more difficult to see the green beans hiding in the mess. Here’s the back side of my fence which faces my side yard.

How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

I had a bumper crop of green beans this year, and gave away several bags of beans to my neighbors. And most of the green beans came from a row that was only 10 feet long. It worked out great because the area really was too narrow and shady to grow much of anything else.

Here’s a picture of an A-frame trellis I made a couple of years ago that I also grew green beans on. I love this one too, but the fence trellis is easier to harvest from. The trellis pictured below is a great alternative if you don’t have a fence. Refer to my post “How to Build a Simple Trellis for Your Veggies and Flowers” for instructions showing how to build one for your garden.

How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Summer is now coming to a close (sigh), and I’m happy to report that the wires and strings held up very well–not a single break in the wires or the fishing lines. And as is the case with most of my projects, I wish I would have done this sooner!

If you have an interest in home decorating, organization and spruce ups for your home on a budget, please feel free to check my other blog at HomeStagingBloomingtonIl. You can find additional before and after pictures on my website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com.

This blog was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and a Journeyman Painter in the Bloomington/Normal, IL area. You can view her portfolios at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com for more before and after photos.

Repurpose a Shepherd’s Hook for Small Space Gardening

Well, here they are. Ugly utility boxes on the side of my house that are messing with my curb appeal (I live on a corner, and this side of my house faces the road). They’re making my new, small-space garden area look bad. I have a dream-like vision of how I would like my side garden to look, and the picture in my head doesn’t include a miniature power-plant.

Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening /MyUrbanGardenOasis

I would pry those suckers right off the side of my house, but I’m not too keen on living without electricity. I’ve come up with something much more sensible to make them “disappear”.

In my stash of gardening treasures, I found the shepherd’s hook shown in the above photo, that I wasn’t using, and I had an epiphany. In one square foot of earth, I can make use of my hook, grow some veggies and cover those unsightly boxes. Genius. I’m certain P. Allen Smith would be impressed.

It’s a simple process. First I loosen the soil where I’ll be planting, being careful not to destroy the cables that are under the ground in the area. I amend the soil as needed, and insert my shepherd’s hook. Out of respect for my hard-working meter readers, I make sure to leave plenty of space in between my hook and the meter so it can be easily accessed.

I need some twine, and this’ll do the trick.

 Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening /MyUrbanGardenOasis

I tie it to the base, like so.

 Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening /MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening /MyUrbanGardenOasis

I then bring the twine up to a hook, and tie it tightly so there’s no slack in the twine.

 Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening /MyUrbanGardenOasis

Next, I find another place on the base to tie another string.

 Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening /MyUrbanGardenOasisg

Again, I bring this string up to the top, and tie it tightly. I repeat the process until I have four strings that form a fan shape.

 Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening /MyUrbanGardenOasisg

 Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening /MyUrbanGardenOasis

I planted cucumber seeds at the base. I prefer pickling cucumbers because I like the flavor of them, the seeds are so small that you don’t even know you’re eating them, and because they’re easy to grow on a trellis since the fruit is lightweight. I plant them from seed because they germinate easily, grow quickly and are cheaper than transplants. And a packet of seeds will last me a few years if I store them in a dry place. So after I plant the seeds, I mulch over them. Not to worry. Those little powerhouses will push their way right through the mulch–no problem.

Because cucumbers climb and attach themselves to structures via tendrils, they need very little coaxing to crawl up the twine. All I have to do in the beginning is keep each vine growing on a separate string. If I don’t watch out for this, they’ll quickly grab onto each other instead of the twine, and become a tangled, droopy mess.

Here you can see they’re on their way! If you look closely, you can see their little arms (aka tendrils) grasping onto the twine.

Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Unfortunately, I wasn’t on the ball enough to take a picture of the vine fully grown all the way to the top, but you get the idea. Other veggies that could be grown this way are pole beans and peas, but you could also grow flowering vines like clematis this way. What makes my heart go pitter-pat is the fact that I can grow veggies in such a tiny space. I had more cucumbers than I could eat, and some lucky neighbors ended up with the overflow. I also like that the shepherd’s hook disappears as the plant grows, and all you can see in the end is a pillar of vines. I’m not sure what I’ll plant on “the hook” this coming growing season, but I’ll throw some photos your way if it’s something spectacular!

If you would like to see another easy DIY trellis for cucumbers, click here!

This blog was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and a Journeyman Painter servicing the Bloomington/Normal, IL area. You can view her portfolios at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com for more before and after photos.

If you have an interest in home decorating, organization and home improvement projects on a budget, please feel free to check my other blog at HomeStagingBloomingtonIl. You can find additional before and after pictures on my website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com.

How to Build a Simple Trellis for Your Veggies and Flowers

Since my little slice of earth is very, very tiny, I try to grow “up” as many plants as I can to save space. So I decided to build a simple trellis to grow pole beans on.

First some background. The side of my house faces south, which is the best place to plant veggies as far as the amount of sun goes. Since I have a corner lot, I don’t have a neighbor’s house blocking the sun on that side. I have an atrocious-looking air conditioning unit in that area of my yard, so I figure why not hide it from view by planting some lovely vining green beans in front of it. I’ve planted every inch of my backyard, so now my side yard gets the overflow.

Check out my picture. I told you its atrocious. Equally as hideous is the flexible downspout, but I ran it through my fence, and have it pointed at a newer birch tree that loves the extra water. My new trellis will hide that as well.

 Simple Trellis for Veggies / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Because of the way I’m planning to construct my trellis, I need to loosen the soil so that I’ll be able to push my stakes into it. I also took some time to mix in some better soil along with it.

So here’s what I bought at Menard’s. I got the last two! Whew! They’re six feet tall which is the perfect height for my beans.

 Simple Trellis for Veggies / MyUrbanGardenOasis

All I need to build my trellis is a drill, some screws, a pencil, some bamboo, some fishing line and scissors to cut the fishing line with. The screws are from some bunk beds that are no longer with us (I save everything!), and the fishing line (not pictured) I purchased at a garage sale. I use fishing line for all kinds of projects, and was at a loss when my son, Brandon, moved out and took his with him. Bummer.

 Simple Trellis for Veggies / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Simple Trellis for Veggies / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Next I lay two stakes on top of each other, measure down 5 inches (oops–see below in parenthesis before you drill), and drill a hole large enough to accommodate my screws through both stakes. (Edit–Please note that after construction, I felt it would have been better to drill at a measurement of closer to 10 inches down so that there would be enough room for the cross piece on top that runs parallel to the ground to lay on top of the screwed area instead of having to attach it underneath where the pieces cross.)

Be sure to drill straight or you’ll end up with some scrap wood. There’s not a lot of room for error on my stakes since the screws I’m using are rather large, and require a large hole to be drilled. But hey, the screws were free. Beggars can’t be choosers, right?

 Simple Trellis for Veggies / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Simple Trellis for Veggies / MyUrbanGardenOasisg

Next I insert my screw, and add a lock nut.

 Simple Trellis for Veggies / MyUrbanGardenOasis

I then push my A-frames into the ground, spacing them evenly. I push them in the ground as far as I can push them so they’ll be as stable as possible.

 Simple Trellis for Veggies / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Now I add the piece on the top, and run it under all the frames, attaching it with my trusty fishing line. I need to push the frames in the dirt so they’re all of equal height or my top cross-piece along the top won’t fit right. I couldn’t put the top piece on top of where the pieces are joined because it wouldn’t fit down in the space, and that’s why it’s underneath. In order for the brace piece to lay across the top, I would have had to spread out the bottom pieces way too far.

 Simple Trellis for Veggies / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Simple Trellis for Veggies / MyUrbanGardenOasis

My poor little vines won’t have enough areas to climb on if I leave it as it is, so I add some cross pieces that are small pieces of bamboo that I also purchased at Menard’s. I tie them on with fishing wire.

 How to Build a Simple Trellis for Your Veggies and Flowers / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 How to Build a Simple Trellis for Your Veggies and Flowers / MyUrbanGardenOasis

I keep adding more bamboo pieces until I have all the cross pieces I want. Here we are complete!

 How to Build a Simple Trellis for Your Veggies and Flowers / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Now I can run my ugly flexible downspout inside my trellis so it’ll be hidden from view once my beans are up and growing. I also have to add some chicken wire around the base of my trellis to keep the bunnies out. Also, we have ground squirrels that like to live in downspouts in my neighborhood, so I keep the downspout inside the fence too. I’ll never quite get why any animal would like to live in a downspout in the blazing hot sun, but then again, we humans hang out in saunas.

 Simple Trellis for Veggies / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Here are my beauties starting to grow.

Simple Trellis for Veggies / MyUrbanGardenOasis

To the left of my trellis, I attached some screw eyes to my fence, and ran wire thru them for more green beans up on. For a more detailed explanation of how to use a privacy fence for growing vegetables vertically, click here.

 How to Build a Simple Trellis for Your Veggies and Flowers / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 How to Build a Simple Trellis for Your Veggies and Flowers / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Unfortunately, this summer was not a good one for veggies in the Midwest. We had a terrible drought, and lots of heat so my green beans didn’t do too well. There’s an awful lot of yellow in this picture considering the fact that they’re supposed to be green beans! The good news is, my trellis did an outstanding job even though my green beans didn’t.

 Simple Trellis for Veggies / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Note: I left my trellis out all winter, and it’s held up just fine!

Edit to the original post: The following summer, I had better luck with my green beans on my trellis so I thought I’d add some better photos.

How to Build a Simple Trellis for Your Veggies and Flowers / MyUrbanGardenOasis

How to Build a Simple Trellis for Your Veggies and Flowers / MyUrbanGardenOasis

How to Build a Simple Trellis for Your Veggies and Flowers / MyUrbanGardenOasis

If you have an interest in home decorating or enjoy DIY projects to help organize your space, please feel free to check my other blog at HomeStagingBloomingtonIl. You can find additional before and after pictures on my website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com.

This blog was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner (Home Staging Resource at http://www.HomeStagingResource.com) and a Journeyman Painter in the Bloomington/Normal, IL area. You can view her portfolios at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com for more before and after photos.

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