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August the 13th marks the starts of National Allotment Week 2018. But with allotments sometimes being in short supply, I thought this would be a great time to talk about how you can extend the food-growing space in your own garden and make every inch of the space work for you.

Hanging Baskets

Using pots, hanging baskets and window boxes is a great way to create growing space where there was none before. Most people only consider ornamental plants as an option for containers, but there are several varieties of food plant that have been cultivated to do well in the conditions that containers provide.

‘Tumbler’ tomatoes, as the name suggests, are a trailing variety of this popular homegrown plant.

Vigorous growers with delicious cherry-tomato-sized fruit, they are the perfect choice for hanging baskets.

Extra Growing Space
Extra Growing Space

Fantastically easy to grow, tumblers require no support or pinching out and when their stems are heavy with vibrant tomatoes, they also add an extra dimension of colour to your growing space.

Allow one plant for every 35cm (14”) hanging basket for best results.

Strawberries are another, often overlooked, option for hanging baskets. The ‘Fragoo’ variety, with its delicate pink flowers and mouth-watering red fruits, is a wonderful choice if you want a two-for-one decorative plant with great tasting berries to boot.

Since their runners can be difficult to keep in check when planted in the garden, containers allow you to enjoy the upsides of these plants with none of the downsides. Again, one plant per basket is best.

Containers

Another great choice for containers is the humble potato. If you have a 2 feet square bare sunny corner on your patio, this could be the crop for you! The container needs to be deeper than a window box or hanging basket to give the tubers enough room to form, but it doesn’t have to be fancy. You could use a 40 litre patio bag or even an old dustbin—they’re not fussy.

Research by the RHS showed the ‘Casablanca’ and ‘Golden Nugget’ are the best varieties of potato to grow in containers. These cultivars provide a good crop of great-tasting tubers whilst being nicely resistant to pests and diseases.

Extra Growing Space

Growing potatoes in containers also makes for less of a guessing game come harvest time as you know where all the tubers are prior to digging them up!

Extra Growing Space

If all you have is a sunny kitchen window sill to play with, growing your own herbs in a window box can be really rewarding.

There’s nothing quite like a few sprigs of homegrown thyme on your grilled chicken or fresh basil leaves added to your homemade tomato bruschetta.

A huge number of herbs will grow well in a window box, so there’s something to suit everyone’s tastes. Choose anything from coriander to chives, mint to oregano. ‘Tumbler’ tomatoes and ‘Fragoo’ strawberries are an option for window boxes, too.

Wall Gardens

If you’re already growing in every inch right up to your boundaries, you may think your space has nothing left to give. However, you should think of your garden as a box from which you can unfold the sides by using the walls themselves as growing space.

Extra Growing Space

Lengths of guttering cut in half and placed in horizontal lines across your wall are an excellent, inexpensive way to grow your own salad leaves.

Place them at a slight angle on the wall and drainage won’t be an issue either!

A south-facing wall is an ideal vertical planting space for ‘Salad Bowl’ Lettuce and ‘Palco’ Spinach, which don’t need great depths of soil. Plants will get lots of sunlight during the day and the wall will radiate heat at night, helping them to crop heavily throughout summer.

If you have a sturdy fence or wall at the edge of a border which gets lots of light, then fan-trained fruit trees or espaliers make a superb choice. While the branches of fan-trained trees spread out from a single point in a handheld fan pattern, espaliers have a central trunk from which parallel horizontal branches extend.

Apples and pears can be bought in either formation, while you can buy everything from almonds and apples to cherries and plums fan-trained and ready to go. Plant one of these well now and your walls could be bearing fruit for years to come.

Extra Growing Space

Trees will need 4-6 metres of width to grow into and a fence or wall of at least 2 metres tall to lean against. They also need to be kept well-watered while they establish themselves.

Use some of these tricks in your own space and you’ll be amazed at the amount of crops you can produce without taking up extra valuable floor space in your own garden or allotment.

If you love the thought of growing food plants at home, but are prone to making rooky mistakes, Smart Garden may be just the ticket.

This gadget’s built-in sensors ensure your plants receive the perfect balance of water, oxygen and nutrients and its grow lamps ensure they receive the optimum amount of light throughout the year. In short, Smart Garden takes care of your plants, so you don’t have to.

Tip:

Cover the soil in your pots

and hanging baskets

with coloured glass pebbles.

These not only look great

but will also keep the soil

moist for longer.

Extra Growing Space Aster

Which flowers should I plant now to extend summer colour into autumn?

Symphyotrichum (Aster) have daisy-like, brightly-coloured flowers which will bloom right through to late autumn, making them a great addition to the garden at this time of year.

Another option is the ‘Indian Summer’ variety of Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed Susan), which has swarms of jolly golden flowers from now right through until the first frost.

Extra Growing Space Blueberries

How do I keep compost acidic for pot-grown blueberries?

Blueberries prefer to grow in acidic soil with a pH of 5.5 or lower. Planting them in ericaceous (i.e. acidic) compost will give them a good start. Keep soil acidic by providing plants with a regular source of iron in their water supply. You can buy sachets of sequestrene of iron from the garden centre, which you can add to your watering can. This will make water more acidic and better suited for acid-loving plants like blueberries.

For the latest gardening jobs, check out my blog:

Or check out my Pinterest board for more ideas:

grow-your-own-garnish
August Gardening
Pinterest flower power
Pinterest Board


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