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Growing vegetables: Making the most of a small space

Sep 29, 2017 06:15 PM

Posted by Emily Mann

A photo of tomatoes growing upside down has inspired me to try to some new gardening techniques this summer. I first saw the upside down tomato planter from a farmer in the Northwest Territories who is using them in her passive solar greenhouse. She uses the Topsy Turvy tomato system, which allows the plants to grow from suspended planter boxes. The tomatoes are begun indoors as transplants and are then planted in the bag before being hung from a ceiling or overhead beam.


topsy turvy

Potatoes can also be grown pretty easily in a bucket or container that has drainage. This year I’ll be growing potatoes on my balcony in a potato bag from West Coast Seeds. The bags have a reinforced rim, drainage holes, and are made from polypropylene. The bags are 18 inches tall, so the potatoes are planted in 12 inches of soil. As the potato plants grow, more soil gets added, mimicking the typical hilling technique used in outdoor gardens. West Coast Seeds sells a similar product that includes a wire trellis, in which tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, and peppers can be grown. A bucket with some holes poked into it would also do the job.


I have also seen strawberries being grown in plastic flower pouches, which can be hung from a hook on a wall or railing. I’m also interested in trying out West Coast Seed’s Cube Modular Garden—it’s like a portable square foot gardening system. One issue I foresee with container gardening on cement or wooden balconies is moisture building up at the bottom of fabric containers, which could be avoided by using hanging systems.

Many farmers and gardeners advocate that growing food is about growing soil, but for those of us who enjoy growing food but have limited land, we have to get creative with our growing techniques. Canadian Living has seven suggestions for container gardening, including choosing robust materials, sterilizing recycled containers, making a plan, fertilizing, rotating crops through different containrs, water regularly, and choosing healthy soil.

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