Gardens sprout in tiny spaces
Years of wearing out the asphalt, plodding between a fluorescent-lit office and a Formica-laden apartment, can make city dwellers feel...
The Associated Press
Years of wearing out the asphalt, plodding between a fluorescent-lit office and a Formica-laden apartment, can make city dwellers feel more than a little removed from nature.
But for urban residents who fear their minuscule or nonexistent yards rule out gardening, be encouraged: Big ideas can sprout in small spaces.
Here are a few suggestions from Ellen Zachos, an instructor at the New York Botanical Gardens and author of "Down & Dirty: 43 Fun & Funky First-time Projects & Activities to Get You Gardening" (Storey Publishing, $19.95).
The water garden
Ponds give a peaceful feeling. A small-space landlubber can recreate that serenity in a whiskey half barrel or clay pot with a watertight liner.
Lined baskets, plastic tubs, dishpans or clay pots will hold plants within the larger water display. Check with a local gardening specialist to determine ideal underwater depth for each plant. Bricks or stones in the outer barrel or container can help raise individual plants to the correct height.
Use plants of varying heights and leaf size to add visual interest. Water hyacinths make a purple-blossomed floater while papyrus and horsetail shoot above the water, even in shaded areas.
If you have a grounded outdoor power outlet, add a fountain to the garden for the tranquil sound of moving water. For more freedom in placing the garden, try a solar-powered fountain.
The herb garden
This container favorite has it all: elegance, fragrance and flavor.
Most herbs respond well to transplanting and can be purchased in a starter pot to be moved to a container. Parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, basil and chives all work this way.
Most herbs can grow placidly side-by-side in the same container. The more aggressive mint and oregano are exceptions and need their own pots to prevent them from crowding out more delicate plants.
A little basic arithmetic is required for raising healthy herbs. Each plant generally needs 6 inches of growing space, so divide the container accordingly. A 36-inch container can hold six herbs, for example.
When planting the herbs, leave an inch or two of space between the top of the soil and the rim of the container, as the soil may rise slightly during watering.
Tip: Check the herbs' roots at the garden center before buying. They should be white and unbroken. Don't buy a plant if its roots are brown or smell woody.
Herbs crave natural light, so consider growing them in a window box outside the kitchen or in a container by the door. That way, they get their sun and are easy to reach for culinary needs.
The "grow bag" garden
Growing tomatoes as sweet as the ones from your mother's backyard is possible in a small space with the help of a "grow bag."
This is simply a bag of soil set on a concrete side yard, apartment terrace or any place where there's no natural dirt. Tomatoes and zucchini will grow in a soil bag, as will herbs.
To set up one, lay a soil bag flat on the ground and cut an opening in the top. Then plant carefully. Make sure the roots are not exposed. Add a teepee made of dowels or a tomato cage to support plants as they grow.
Holes cut in the bag's bottom or sides will allow excess water to drain. Frequent watering is needed.
Disguise the soil bags and trap in heat by covering them in black garbage bags.
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.