Space: the final frontier! For many urban gardeners, especially those living in flats with balconies, the lack of soil and space means that gardening attempts are limited to crops in pots and containers. But this is not limiting at all.
Many vegetable plants don't require a large mass of space: some simply like a deep pot; others are quite at home in grow-bags and others can simply be grown in, well, anything!
Although I have a garden, actual soil space is very limited, so during this summer's London Vegetable Garden growing escapades, I'm planning to show you all what can be achieved in small spaces using bags, pots and various containers.
In the first of these 'space-saving' series, I'm looking at peas. There's nothing nicer than home-grown peas, plucked fresh from the pod and eaten raw, or boiled up with some mint and served alongside new potatoes and a lamb chop. So this week, I'm showing you how you can grow peas on a balcony or on a small patio.
Firstly, you'll need to grow your peas. If, like me, you enjoy growing from seed, simply knock up a few newspaper plant pots (click here for my guide on how to make these) and plant your peas. They grow quickly and within a couple of weeks, you should have some visible shoots, like so:
After about 5 weeks, your pea plants should be ready for planting out, when they look something like this:
Now, here's for the space-saving bit. Peas like a little bit of depth for their roots, whilst the plants are climbers, meaning that they grow upwards. In terms of space, you'll only need a couple of square feet of space and about 5 feet of height to grow your peas – which on a balcony or patio, is more than achievable.
Remember the newspaper pots? You can plant these straight into the soil, where the newspaper will disintegrate quickly, ensuring no root damage to the plants. I've unwrapped one just to show you how strong the roots are – here they have grown right through the newspaper, so don't worry about planting the whole thing!
I'm planting my peas in a hessian sack, which was £6.99 from the local garden centre. It comes with internal supports for the canes, which is a really useful feature, although you can use a deep flowerpot and tape cane supports to the side using duct tape – it will work just as well.
I've filled with a mixture of soil, multi-purpose compost and my Miracle-Gro enriched, expandable compost (see the review here) to ensure a balanced and nourished soil for the peas, since they will be growing in this same soil all summer. The canes have been fastened at the top and provide some support for the pea plants as they grow – they'll soon latch on and make their way to the top.
So there we have it: easy peasy! If you have a balcony, patio, or tiny outdoor area, you really can grow some peas following these instructions – it's that simple. And due to the quick growth of pea plants, it's not too late to start growing your peas, from scratch, now! Good luck!