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Guerrilla Gardening

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Gardeners are a resourceful and determined lot. Even with a small plot of soil, a patio, balcony or windowsill, you can create a tiny garden that will bring you beauty and food.

Gardeners are a resourceful and determined lot. Even with a small plot of soil, a patio, balcony or windowsill, you can create a tiny garden that will bring you beauty and food.

Growing Up

Make maximum use of your garden space by using fences, trellises or homemade supports of wood, string or chicken wire that allow plants to grow upward. Instead of bush beans, plant pole beans that produce beans all the way up their vines and bear over a longer period. Red runner beans not only provide tasty beans but also have beautiful red flowers that attract hummingbirds.

Cucumber plants can be trained up supports as can squash, pumpkin or melon vines as long as heavy fruit are supported in netted bags. Choose tomato varieties that are "indeterminate," meaning that they continue to grow upward and bear fruit throughout the summer.

Enjoy both beauty and food by growing edible flowers such as nasturtiums, pansies, Johnny-jump-ups, calendulas, day lilies and roses. Never leave an empty space in your garden. When one plant has been eaten or is finished bearing, plant another or sow seeds.

Containers

Containers can turn your patio, porch or apartment balcony into a beautiful and productive garden. Use pots, wooden planters, plastic pails or anything else available. As well as being placed on the ground, pots can be attached to supports or trellises to make use of vertical space or they can be hung to create hanging baskets.

Make sure that the container has drainage holes in the bottom. Lay down three centimetres (one inch) of stones or broken flower pots in the bottom and then fill the rest of the container with good potting soil that has been enriched with compost or composted manure.

Containers can be planted with flowers, herbs or an attractive mixture. Before you plant, check the seed catalogue or nursery descriptions to find the height and width of mature plants. Almost all vegetables can be grown in containers. Medium-sized containers are best planted with dwarf varieties of vegetables, while larger containers can be placed against trellises or supports and planted with tall or climbing varieties to make maximum use of space.

Containers of any type will probably need watering every day during the summer. If possible, water in the morning, and water thoroughly until excess liquid flows out the bottom. If the container is resting on a saucer, let excess water remain in the saucer for 10 minutes and then empty it. After a rainfall, empty saucers so that the plants don't become waterlogged.

Once a week, fertilize containers with compost tea (made by soaking a bag of compost or composted manure in a pail of water for 24 hours) or a half-strength solution of liquid fertilizer.

Windows

Even if you have only a window, you can still have a tiny garden. A south-facing window is best for growing vegetables, herbs and flowers. Expand your space by putting a shelf or table in front of the window. Shelves can also be built across the front of larger windows. Glass shelving ensures that all plants receive maximum light.

Throughout the winter, herbs such as chives, garlic chives, rosemary, basil, parsley, chervil, marjoram, dill leaf, cilantro and summer savory can be grown. Vegetables such as lettuce, cress, dwarf tomatoes and dwarf peppers thrive in a southern window. When summer comes, use the outside of your window and install window boxes, making sure they are safely secured.

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