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Organic Gardens for Small Spaces

Imagine this summer you can picking your own tomatoes, peas or your favorite herbs from your backyard, patio or balcony, and adding them to your salads or sauces. They are easy to grow and take very little space and time. Start your urban organic garden with these three popular plants.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are easily grown in containers, yielding a large crop from just one or two plants. You can grow them in hanging baskets, planters and window or deck railing boxes – and they are decorative as well.

Young plants from nurseries are your best and easiest choice. Most types need warm night temperatures in order to flower and set fruit (23ºC or higher).

For small container spaces, smaller tomatoes such as grape, cherry, or even roma, can be successfully grown, as the fruit is small enough that it won’t break the branches as they ripen.

Water & Good Food:
You should water weekly and never allow your tomatoes to completely dry out. Water your plants less as the fruit ripens – tomatoes watered too much will taste watery.
Use a well-balanced fertilizer every two weeks throughout the growing season. Composted tea or manure are wonderful for tomatoes.

Peas

Peas grow quickly and don’t need much attention. They need full sunlight and moist soil. Peas prefer cool conditions, so plant them early in the season. When it gets too warm, they stop producing. Once they’ve stopped, you can pull them up and start another vegetable in the same container.

Peas that suit container gardens include Sugar Snap, English Pea, Little Marvel, Early Frosty, Snow and Oregon Sugar Pod.

Planting your peas:
Fill a large container with good drainage with potting soil. If your potting soil doesn’t have fertilizer, mix some in. Pat the soil down gently so that it is flat.

Sprinkle peas generously and evenly onto surface of soil. Press them onto the surface of the soil. Then cover with an additional one to two inches of soil.

Water deeply and evenly and keep the soil moist but not wet and be sure that your peas get full sun.

Most peas are climbers so you will need some type of trellis. You can use branches and stick them into the soil or tied bamboo stakes in a teepee shape. As your peas start to grow, you may have to help get them started climbing on your trellis.

Harvest peas as they ripen. For the best tasting peas:

  • sugar snaps–harvest them when they are young
  • English peas–wait until the pods swell, so the peas are big and juicy.
  • Snow peas–pick before they get too large.

Herbs

Growing herbs in containers is easy and they can be moved to a warmer area or into the shade. When they are right at your reach, you will use them more in your daily diet.
Mint, sage, rosemary, basil, parsley, chives, French terragon and thyme all grow well in containers.
Some herbs will continue growing throughout the year. Maintain them by removing long stems or flowers during the winter months. If they start to go scraggly, divide them up and re-pot them to make additional plants.