If you're looking for something to keep you happy and productive at home, you'll really dig gardening. It's fun, good for you, and helps save money on food.
Short on space? No problem! You'll be amazed how much you can grow on an apartment balcony or tiny patch of soil in your yard. With these small space gardening tips, you'll be growing your own plants in no time.
As with most projects, it's important to create a plan before you start gardening. Look at the space you have to work with and decide how much of it you want to devote to plants. Make sure the garden will be in an area that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight a day, but also be cautious about too much sunlight. You don't want to scorch your plants!
Decide what plants you want to grow. Native plants that thrive in Nashville's climate need less maintenance. You also want plants that won't need a lot of space to mature. Keep in mind that different plants require planting at different times of the year.
Warm-season vegetables include cucumbers, peas, tomatoes, okra, and several varieties of beans. If you're looking to plant flowers, focus on summer-blooming bulbs and heat-loving blossoms. A few examples are cannas, dahlias, gloriosa lilies, coleus, marigolds, and petunias. You may have to prune these often to keep them confined to your space.
Since you're limited on space, consider companion planting. This method uses plants that benefit one another by deterring harmful pests, providing nutrients, and warding off disease. Marigolds and herbs go well with almost all other plants, so consider making them a staple.
If you plan ahead, you can try double cropping. Plant certain veggies early in the cool-season and then add other varieties for the warm summer season to increase your harvest. Make the most of your space by using plants that complement each other and that you can plant at the same time.
Container gardens are a growing trend on balconies and back patios. Again, you'll want to focus on plants that don't spread as they mature. The plants you use will also determine the size of containers you'll need for your garden. Some of the easiest veggies to grow in containers are cucumbers, radishes, peppers, spinach, and lettuce.
If you're looking to grow flowers in containers, you'll want to select flowers that match the growing conditions on your balcony or patio. If your plants face the sun, bee balm or royal catchfly are perfect and sure to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. If you tend to get more shade, try Indian pink or crested iris. All are native plants and easy to care for.
Container gardening also has a key benefit: the ability to move your plants. You can bring the plants inside to shelter them from harsh weather and move them if they need more sunshine.
If you're not feeling up to the task of gardening on your own, consider a community garden. Nashville has a number of community gardens already established. It's a great way to meet others in your neighborhood and work toward something beneficial. You could even start your own community garden with friends and neighbors in your area.
Nashville is not only an amazing place to live, but a great place to grow a garden no matter which part of town you live in.
Roger Fisk is a freelance journalist and landscaper. He and his two German shepherds enjoy listening to classical music while tending to the garden. All three of them enjoy chasing butterflies in the yard.