Big benefits to gardening in small spaces

Growing methods and new products make growing healthy edibles at home easier than ever.

With a rapidly growing number of people living in apartments, condos or homes with small yards, interest in growing edibles in limited spaces is on the rise. The logistics may seem daunting.

On the contrary!

Members of the gardening community – authors, speakers, retailers and forward-thinking entrepreneurs – are responding with growing methods and products that make growing healthy edibles at home easier than ever.

Growing edibles in small spaces: You’re only limited by your imagination

The notion that a garden requires a plot of land is outdated. If you’re working with limited space, even a tiny lanai, you can grow everything from zingy herbs to fruit-bearing trees.

Here are tips from some of the world-class speakers who’ll share their techniques in free seminars at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show.

  • Start simply and inexpensively by creating an organic “Victory” garden from scratch – it can cost less than $25 for the entire project.
  • “Go vertical” and pack dozens of edible plants into a two-square-foot space.
  • Create your own “container orchard” of apples, citrus and blueberries that thrive in the Northwest.
  • “Blended gardens” mix gorgeous double-duty ornamentals that are also tasty.
  • Month-by-month planning will help you produce year-round harvests, and enliven the gardening doldrums of late fall.

Home grown goodness… it’s also good for you!

Beyond having flavorful fresh-grown herbs, fruits and vegetables just steps away from your table, there are plenty of health benefits to gardening, too. By growing produce yourself, you are in complete control of what you eat.

It starts with the soil you use. People and plants both rely on microbiomes to stay healthy, and many plants nourish our gut microbiomes – bolstering our immune systems. Both new science and age-old methods prepare soil to raise edibles for optimal nutrition and vitality.

And why not showcase your green thumb and entertain guests, too? You’ll be the envy of friends with hand-crafted syrups, vinegars, dried seasoning mixes and dry rubs you’ve created from your homegrown herbs. And add a new, tasty twist to your favorite tea or adult beverage with a syrup or pickled garnish that you’ve created yourself.

From simple pots to raised bed container gardens, it’s a great time to get growing

There has never been a better time to grow edibles in a small space. Manufacturers, retailers and even artists are responding to consumer needs with a wide range of products.

Raised-bed container gardens and growing tables are one of the hottest categories in small=space gardening. “Table-to-table” crops can include mini lettuces, mini carrots and broccoli, parsley and peas. You can add a touch of color, too (ie nasturtium leaves and flowers hanging down the sides). Your garden is elevated – which discourages snails and slugs _ and it’s also easy on the back. They’re available at local nurseries and retail locations; an Australian firm at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show is introducing its new elevated “pod” featuring self-watering technology and a pest-fighting cover.

For very small spaces, containers are both attractive and functional. Try grouping both new and re-purposed containers for an eclectic look. And for year-round harvests of edibles, planters can be moved to capture the sun throughout the seasons. Whether it’s a grouping of planters or a single container, you can add a distinctive visual punch to your garden bed, patio or balcony.

Keep digging throughout the year

Given our temperate climate west of the Cascades, gardening can be fun and rewarding 12 months of the year. One of the best “go-to” resources for organic and urban gardening in the region Seattle Tilth, a non-profit organization offering classes and other learning opportunities for the past 40 years. Kicking off a new, ongoing partnership with the Northwest Flower & Garden Show, be sure to visit Seattle Tilth’s activity area in the show’s North Hall to learn more about their year-round urban gardening and organic cooking programs.

“Taste of Spring” is the theme for the 2017 Northwest Flower & Garden Show, celebrating trends, sustainability and organic and urban gardening. The festival inspires with garden displays, 110 free seminars, shopping, tasting corner and more. Feb. 22-26, Washington State Convention Center, Seattle.