Urban living and small spaces go hand in hand. But this does not mean that urban farming is out of your reach! With a bit of smart planning, it’s possible to grow quite a bit of fresh food in a small space.
Container Gardening: On balconies, container gardening is the only option - and in a small yard, they often help to save space and elevate plants into the sun. Just about any plant can be grown in a container, so long as you provide sufficient nutrients and water.
FarmCity specializes in furniture-quality custom containers of just about any size and style - installed with soil. We're happy to come have a look at your space and discuss your ideas.
Check out our posting about other FarmCity custom planters for a few more photos.
Trellises, Arbours and Other Growing Frames: To grow a lot of food in a small space, go up! Many of our containers come with trellises attached (right), but we also make them to hang on walls or sit on the ground.
One of the most elegant design elements of a garden , we usually make our trellises and arbours of oiled, weather-resistant cedar, but they can be made of any range of gorgeous tropical hardwoods.
Squashes, peas, beans, tomatoes and many other plants do better on a trellis, catching lots of sun and breezes, than spread on the damp ground. A trellis or arbour, hung with greenery (and food!), is a great way to cover an otherwise spare wall - or to create a privacy screen on your balcony or in your small garden.
FarmCity's tomato and herb terraces (left) are three-tiered containers occupying a space approximately 2 feet by 3 feet - or smaller, as needed! We build them ourselves, and then install them for you, with soil. Any size is possible, but this one will hold as many as 6 small tomato plants, 3 large - as well as the smaller plants (basil, parsley, lettuce), that you plant at the feet of the tomatoes.
Or perhaps you prefer a salad garden - all variety of lettuces, rocket, arugula, and so on. Or imagine a raspberry bed or herb garden! And in the winter, you can grow crops like kale, broccoli or cabbage. This one is a herb garden: thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley and oregano - with a few flowers thrown in!
Edible Walls are another great way to grow a lot in a small space. This one is planted with greens, herbs and edible flowers, but you could also have a living wall of ripe, red strawberries, or a drapery of peas and beans. While this is about 4x4 feet, edible walls are easily made to a wide range of dimensions - and we are happy to fill and plant them for you as part of the service.
The green wall technology we use allows for easy, tidy watering, using a combination of watering reservoirs and a wicking system that keeps plants moist while preventing the soil from washing out.
Fruit and Nut Trees: Many fruit trees do fine in containers, given proper care. Dwarf varieties of orchard trees (apple, plum, pear, cherry, hazelnut) typically grow to 7-8 feet high and 6-8 feet across - though they can be shaped for smaller spaces.
Likewise, columnar apple varieties are now available in Vancouver, growing 8-10 feet tall, but only about 2 feet wide! An excellent solution for a small space - and you still get lots of fruit!
Vining Fruits on an Arbour: Grapes and kiwis (left - kiwi flowers at bottom) also do well grown in containers and then trained up a growing frame. An arbour draped with greenery, flowers and ripening fruit is a beautiful source of shade and ease in the summer sun - and the fruit is good, too!
Composting: Stinky and messy? Not necessarily! There are several options for composting on a balcony. A rolling compost bin (right) with a run-off reservoir beneath it allows for easy, effective composting, with the option of using the compost “tea” from the reservoir as an additional fertilizer. Or consider using the worm bin technique (www.cityfarmer.org has a great tutorial).
Our Soil: Every container, raised bed or custom planter we make comes installed with soil. We offer rich, clean soil in both organic and non-organic options, while for balconies and decks, we mix our own lightweight soils - designed to relieve the balcony of some of the weight. Check out our page on taking care of the soil - relevant for balcony and container gardening, too.