If you’re pressed for space, the thought of having a greenhouse might seem like a consideration for the future. We’re here to say that this need not be the case! If you want to be growing fresh flowers or herbs, a few vegetables, or even something more exotic like citrus plants, you can do so without a garden or traditional greenhouse. The philosophy we’d like to impart here is, start with what’s possible, then expand your horizon as you are able.
All over the country, people living in urban environments, in the suburbs, and even in apartments, have been coming up with new and creative and ways to integrate green spaces into their lives. Rooftop gardens, green balconies and porches, cold frames, small lean-tos, and portable type greenhouses, all offer small-scale, manageable, and inexpensive ways to expand beyond houseplants. If you’re a DIY type, you can find a multitude of simple “greenhouse” type projects, from hoop houses, to reclaimed window structures, to super simple countertop “greenhouse” boxes.
These smaller solutions don’t have to be viewed as compromised starting points; there are several legitimate reasons to have small-scale green spaces, even as an addition to your garden or larger greenhouse. While these tiny alternatives might not produce the bulk of food and flowers you need for your family or for sale, they do offer an easy venue for experimentation, and they can serve as a learning tool for growing indoors, under well-supervised conditions. Other practical considerations include their simplicity and adaptability: they’re easy to move, repair, adapt and improve, in addition to being economical. By focusing on a few types of plants, you can really hone in on the process of caring for untested plants without getting overwhelmed by the needs of many different varieties. You’ll also be able to avoid having to deal with the possible outcome of losing an entire crop.
Here’s a few great candidates for a tiny (indoor) “greenhouse” this winter:
- Tropical plants like coffee, fig, lemon, lime, pineapple, eucalyptus and Thai pepper.
- Herbs and flowers like lavender, rosemary, parsley, chives, sage, calendula and hibiscus.
- Shallow root veggies shallots, garlic and beets.
- Greens like micro kale, baby chard and salad greens.
Note that if you’re not able to give your plants 6-8 hours of sun during the day, you may need to supplement natural light with a grow light.
We hope we’ve kindled a few ideas on how you can expand your growing practices, even when space is at a premium and conditions may not be the most favorable. With a little creativity and experimentation, you’ll find new avenues to make your world a little greener, and pick up some tricks along the way.
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