Planting in Challenging Environments

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Planting in Challenging Environments


We don’t all live on farms or even have access to enough land to grow a decent size garden. Many of you do, but for many reasons, all the way from local government or homeowner’s association regulations to just having no idea how to get the ground tilled, fertilized and planted, don’t get in there and plant a garden. If you’re not sure where to start, there are many reasons found to not turn over the soil.

If you are unable or unwilling to garden in the ground, you can still grow food in any environment, no matter how challenging and unfriendly.

Container Gardens

Planting vegetable garden plants in containers that can be positioned in or out of the weather as need dictates makes all the sense in the world. Many of us like to keep certain kinds of vegetables or herbs growing all through the year and this is practically impossible if you can’t quickly and easily move them out into the warm sun or inside away from a cold snap. You can put containerized plants under artificial grow lights during periods of time when the days are short or too cloudy. No matter what time of year it is, if you keep up the proper watering amounts daily, you can garden in a container.

Vertical Gardening

Vertical gardens grow great greens - photo by wiccahwang

If space is really limited you might try growing on the vertical. Like the picture to the right shows, you are using a wall to grow plants. This requires a little ingenuity to figure out how to keep the soil contained and stable – but with some of the mediums available today enclosed in thick, durable cloth sewn or anchored securely, it can be a fairly easy project.

I think salad greens are the perfect plant for vertical planting as the roots are not too big and the greens are being picked before they get very big. Not only that, the tapestry of differing shades and textures of green creates a beautiful piece of “art.”

Note that gardening in a small amount of soil means proper watering MUST be kept up. Dried out soil will quickly lead to dried out plants that will quickly die. If you use vertical plantings be sure to allow time to water daily in your schedule.

Window Gardening

Peppers growing in sunny window garden - photo by mannewaar

A warm and sunny window is a great place to keep containerized plants growing all winter long. I like to keep potted herbs in windowsills to soak up the rays of sunshine during a long, cold winter. And it’s not just herbs that benefit from a sunny window either, trays of greens grow easily there, too. Another benefit of kitchen window gardens is quick access to the water faucet. Plants can be quickly sucked dry of soil moisture in the heated air found inside houses during the wintertime if you don’t add enough water to maintain inside moisture levels.

It’s not just mature plants that benefit from window gardening either – window sills are great places to acclimate seedlings.

The only problem to window gardening is sometimes, especially during really cold snaps and when you have drafty windows, plants can touch the glass and freezing temperatures can kill the tender plants or at least the part touching the window pane. It has been helpful, for me, to remove the plants from the window sills, at night during colder temperatures, and put them back up there during the daytime.

Containers For Challenging Environments

Between the creative use of containers, the ability to grow vertical gardens and the use of window gardens there are many ways to overcome a lack of outside garden space in the summer time or to garden all year long. Don’t be stuck thinking that you must grow your plants in the ground in the warmer months of the year. Move containerized plants around, inside and out, grow your garden up the wall – be creative! Think outside the (growing) box and start enjoying an abundant harvest of fresh vegetables all year long.