I am not sure if it is a result of a few of my formative years being spent attending a think tank for adolescents or if it is my penchant for conversation or even my inability to pay attention to anything for longer than about 3 minutes but I am a huge believe in stream of consciousness thinking. Some may call it going around your butt to get to your elbow. Others may call it taking the long road home. Whatever the case it is the exact method at which I arrive at most of my ideas and plans. And gardening as a tiny houser is no different.
So how does one get from tiny house to garden? Well, I’m glad you asked.
The foundation of the Tiny r(E)volution is stewardship. It is about being fiscally responsible, ecologically responsible, emotionally responsible, and relationally responsible. And somewhere between fiscally responsible and ecologically responsible is the idea of gardening and growing ones own food. It simply makes sense. It saves money on grocery bills while providing incredible sources of natural vitamins and minerals free of chemicals and pesticides. But then the questions arise. I live in a tiny house. I have no land. How do I grow a garden? This is the most logical point where my thoughts turn from traditional plot gardening to container gardening. Want the good news? Almost any vegetable that will grow in a typical backyard garden can also do well in a container. Some vegetables that are especially well-suited for container gardening are tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, bush beans, lettuce, spinach, summer squash, radishes, and herbs. In the right environment others are cabbage, kale, broccoli and cauliflower. See, here is the secret. You don’t need 40 acres or a tiller to garden. In fact, you need very little.
When deciding to abandon traditional gardening (for whatever reason) in lieu of container garden, you will need to think about many of the same things you’d be thinking about if you were gardening on a piece of land; healthy soil, sunlight, water, compost or fertilizer, and pest management. Of course, when container gardening, it is also important to consider what types of containers you will use. And so that is why I am listing below my Top 5 favorite ways to “container garden” when living in a tiny house.
A Planting Tower. Found on the The Casual Gardener blog written by my friend Shawna Coronado, the Planting Tower is a wonderful way to reuse old plastic containers or planters to create a cascading or ascending tower (depending on how you see the glass; half full or half empty) suitable for flowers, edibles, or almost anything in between. Shawna also has a great video tutorial on how to make a tower on your own. So if you are wanting to grow up next to a fence, on a porch post, or even against your tiny house, this is a great idea and an easy one as well!
Bucket ‘o Food. Another good friend of mine, Mike Canarsie, writes a full-on container gardening blog and because he lives in LA has a lot to say about non-conventional ways to grow your groceries. One of my favorite (and one of the easiest) is his self-watering container garden. Comprised of 5-gallon buckets the self-watering containers are both easy to find and easy to make. Use your imagination by spray painting the buckets (with no-VOC paint or non-toxic paint) and find a spot to “landscape” them in.
Painted Cans. Last season I decided we were going to try an herb garden using gallon sized cans that once stored green beans. We got dozens of the cans from a local church who had just hosted a seasonal meal and had lots of tins and cans to be discarded. I got the idea from Gayla Trail’s book, You Grow Girl. If it is edibles you want to grow you may not want to paint them as illustrated but rather peel off the label, soak them in warm, soapy water, and leave them a wonderful aluminum color. You can also use self-tapping screws to screw them onto a fence, into a wall, or just place them on a ledge!
Get Wooly! Perhaps though you want to bring some of that delicious, edible, life into your tiny house. Perhaps you have a wall just begging for some living art. I can’t think of a better way to have a kitchen herb garden or even some sweet, seasonal berries than by using a Living Wall Planter from WoolyPocket. These amazing, mountable pockets are ideal for plants for a few reasons. They are easy to hang. They are easy to water. (In fact, you just water the back panel with a wine bottle or a long spout watering can. The water then wicks down directly to the roots.) They are self-watering. They allow for strong roots. The pockets are eco-friendly (Made from 100% recycled plastic bottles; PET).
A Pallet of Green. Fern Richardson is a published author, a fantastic blogger, a crafty gal, and an amazing balcony gardener. It was from her Life On The Balcony that I first saw pallet gardens. A bit more difficult to put together but still quite affordable and easy for tiny house spaces, the pallet garden is good for almost anything; flowers and edibles alike. With just a bit of stapling, some soil conditioning, and, of course, some plant selection and you can have the biggest garden this size of tiny with almost no effort!