Gardening in Small Spaces

I am excited to begin gardening again this year on our back deck. Due to the limited space I have in our condo, I planted a container garden this last year. It worked out remarkably well and we enjoyed fresh tomatoes and green peppers and parsley throughout the summer. This year I am hoping to expand my garden a bit with a few more creative additions. Here are two ideas I have come across for small spaces:

gutter-gardening1. Gutter gardening

My sister-in-law passed on this article about gutter gardening. I was impressed with the creativity of this idea. With the simple installation of a gutter along your siding, you can grow an abundance of fresh greens of all varieties (as they do not require deep soil).

2. Upside down hanging garden

I also am intrigued by the idea of growing tomatoes upside down in a hanging basket.  This would hanging-tomatoessave alot of space. You can accomplish this very frugally by drilling holes in the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket or hanging planting basket. Hanging tomatoes upside down has many benefits according to this article, “First, the air can circulate better so the plants have almost no disease problems. Second, the fruit doesn’t rot as quickly as that on the ground. And finally, some critters that eat tomatoes have trouble getting to the ripening fruit.” You can also check out a Topsy Turvy for this purpose as well - an easy step by step kit for growing upside down plants.

3. Shoe Organizer Herb Garden

Picture 2Check out this post about turning a shoe organizer into an herb garden! If you have a little hanging space on a balcony, railing, or wall, you could explore further with this simple addition.

I would love to hear if you have tried any of these methods? What was your results? Any tips to pass on to me?

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of four, homemaker, and writer. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

35 Responses to Gardening in Small Spaces

  1. You actually make it appear so easy along with your presentation but I to find this matter to be actually something that I believe I would by no means understand. It sort of feels too complicated and extremely extensive for me. I am having a look ahead in your subsequent put up, I will try to get the dangle of it!

  2. Kathryn December 30, 2010 at 6:06 pm #

    I am trying unique garden ideas this coming spring. I have never gardened in my life and am terrified but my husband and I are trying to go organic and anyway, I am going to try a lot of these ideas. I love that gutter gardening idea! crazy awesome.

    • Michael December 21, 2011 at 8:47 am #

      No reason to be “terrified” of gardening. Sure, there is a learning curve, but it’s not like you have anything to fear. If your garden does not flourish, then learn from your mistakes and do better next time.

      Start with easy stuff. Try growing sweet basil, onions (from sets), yellow squash, radishes, turnips (from seed) and cabbage (from sets) in cool weather.

      If you have any questions, drop me a note and I will help however I can.

      Am I an expert? Well, I’ve grown gardens for over 40 years and own an organic fertilizer company, so you decide. :-)

  3. Walter Kalbfleisch October 23, 2010 at 4:09 pm #

    Good info here. I am continuing to for supplemental data on natural health and would be thankful any recommendations. Thank You!

  4. Gutter Guard Reviews April 16, 2010 at 5:27 am #

    Great! Thank for information, I'm looking for it for a long time,

  5. Lara March 28, 2010 at 1:28 pm #

    I have been quite sceptical about the idea of this approach so Im so happy to see so many positive comments about success stories etc, as opposed to alot of the negative press I have found on other article sites. Im going to conduct an experiment using a range of planters and types. We hope to post our findings here after the end of the season –


  6. TeraH February 25, 2010 at 7:57 am #

    Hmm – I like that herb garden idea.

    I have been growing tomatoes upside down for about 3 years and Im getting better at it. A good article on the subject – One good tip is to put alot of vermiculite or other moisture holding material at the bottom of the bucket (this will be at the top when the bucket is inverted). This is because the tomato plants ‘drinking’ roots tend to be the deepest, or shallowest when upside down – this helps keep moisture around those roots that need it most –

  7. Megan December 17, 2009 at 9:51 am #

    Wow! I love that shoe organizer idea. How crafty!

  8. tarena August 18, 2009 at 7:42 pm #

    Hey lindsey!
    I am starting to think about and plan for our garden for next year. We have a VERY small patio out back and that is it (townhouse). I am very interested in finding creative ways to plant things and I love your ideas! I do want to look into if anything can be leached into the plants if it is grown in plastic or certin kinds of metal cans. Have you learned anything?

  9. Melanie June 24, 2009 at 6:31 pm #

    I am not having any luck at all with those tomato planters from Walmart. The plants looked great for about two weeks, then they started to yellow, now they are drying up and dying. I have tried watering more, watering less, plant food. I don’t know what I am doing wrong and now it is too late to get more plants and tomatoes are my favorite. I am really an unhappy camper right now. Any ideas at all????

    • Lindsay June 24, 2009 at 7:13 pm #

      Are you referring to Topsy Turvy’s?

  10. b. May 19, 2009 at 2:43 pm #

    I just saw something in a magazine called a Living Wall by Smith and Hawken. I wonder if this is another great idea for someone if they can figure out how to make it.

  11. Cindy May 13, 2009 at 4:07 pm #

    We are going to try the upside down gardening this year. I know several homeschoolers last year that went to their local dollar store and bought several buckets with the handles on them. They drilled a hole in the bottom and used the handle to hang it up and they grew alot of tomatoes, cucumbers, zuchinni and peppers this way. They said it was the easiest way to grow the plants and they have their pots and plants waiting to go outside this year.

  12. DeAnna May 13, 2009 at 11:21 am #

    This year I’m doing a small garden outside. I have a couple tomato plants in the ground, but was wondering about those upside down things. The gutter things look great, although wouldn’t work very easily on our house because its brick. :) But, I saw on Martha Stewart how to build a salad table. Here’s the link: My husband built me one — I think if it is done exactly as it says it would cost about $30, my husband used wood slats under the window screening instead of the wire stuff (I think the video mentions this as well) and since he had a couple sawhorses sitting around here, he used those instead of building the legs. This also makes it easier to transport and store in the winter when we aren’t using it. After he took those couple of things back, he said he saved $18 – so I guess that means it cost us $12. I’ve got romaine, broccoli, spinach, kale, and I’m moving some bush bean plants in there as I had lots of bush beans sprout after planting the seeds — way too many for my small little garden bed. I’m hoping that this year we can have a good bit of fresh veggies — and maybe even fruit as we planted a blackberry bush. :)

  13. Becky May 12, 2009 at 8:07 am #

    I’m going to try the gutters this week. Do you think there’s any concern with the plastic leeching into the soil and therefore the vegetables? Do you have a certain type of soil you recommend? I’m fairly new to gardening and don’t know if there are significant quality differences. Thanks for the inspiration!

  14. Ivy May 11, 2009 at 6:32 pm #

    You have such an amazing blog. WOW!
    How uplifting, and inspiring. God Bless!

  15. Tracy May 11, 2009 at 5:40 pm #

    I just planted my tomatoes in a Topsy Turvy upside down planter. They are growing at a VERY fast rate and I am excited to see how they turn out! I will let you know how they turn out!

  16. Trixie May 11, 2009 at 8:08 am #

    This is my first “peek” into your blog, and I think this post is awesome! I have done container growing, but not in gutters, and I think that’s neat. We are growing tomatoes in upside down containers this year and it’s easy (but yes, they have to have a lot of water…[email protected] tomatoes hanging outside) I’m looking forward to seeing more of your site! Thanks for sharing!!

  17. Angie May 10, 2009 at 5:01 pm #

    My husband and I are renting our house (no, not very frugal, but we’re saving up to buy!) and since it’s a rental, we can’t plant a garden. We did, however, try the upside down tomato planters. I am currently growing heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, strawberries, and basil. The plants are going crazy! I water them every day, as indeed you have to, since they have no access to ground water. The tomatoes also need partial shade.

    I can’t wait to try the gutters. What a great idea!

  18. Kate May 10, 2009 at 12:20 pm #

    You can grow herbs inside, year round if you have a sunny spot in your kitchen.

  19. joanna May 9, 2009 at 7:32 pm #

    Check out my favorite gardening book, “Square Foot Gardening” by Mel Bartholomew (sp?)-your library probably has the updated edition. You’d be amazed at what you can grow in just 1 square foot! (16 carrots!)
    An idea I’d like to try is buying garden soil in bags, cutting open the top of the bags, poking holes in the bottom, (this should be done first) and planting seeds or plants right in the bags. I saw this idea in a magazine and think it sounds quick and really easy. I think I would put some kind of cover over the whole area, though, to hide the plastic bags, like some kind of mulch. I really plan to try this sometime!

  20. Felicia May 8, 2009 at 7:18 pm #

    Wow, the gutter guard is a really neat idea! I’ll keep it in mind for next year. For Christmas my folks sent me the upside down patio garden container. I’m looking forward to putting out tomato plants this weekend. I tried starting from seeds, but this year got off to a too late start. So, I’ll pick up a few plants and post the photos.

  21. Elena May 8, 2009 at 6:32 pm #

    I would be careful about gutter gardening if you live in an old house since the lead paint chips and dust can fall through the siding.

  22. Erin May 8, 2009 at 6:08 pm #

    Always love your blog Lindsay! I’ve done container gardening for a few years with limited success. Did ground plantings last year, but the rabbits, chipmunks and squirrels thought my seeds and sprouting plants rather tasty. I will be trying all containers again this year (plants and flowers). What type of containers do you use, Lindsay, and how many plants do you place in each? Has anyone out there tried using a large galvanized steel watering trough as a huge planter? Any success with that? I’m looking for something large and inexpensive that I can plant multiple items in. Thanks all!

    • Lindsay May 11, 2009 at 1:52 pm #

      I bought the largest size of containers for planting at Wal-Mart actually. They are plastic but work great. I planted one tomato plant in some and 2 green pepper plants in another. I also planted some herbs with the green peppers and that worked well.

  23. Amanda May 8, 2009 at 5:15 pm #

    Thank you so much for the links, and what neat ideas! This has given me encouragement that I CAN plant at least a few things in our temporary quarters.

  24. Sonja May 8, 2009 at 12:16 pm #

    You should also check out Laura’s idea for container potato growing. It is fast to make and very economical. It can easily be downsized for a condo or balcony as well. See it here at I am lucky, we have a very large amount of room, heading out now to plant our potatoes! Good luck!

  25. Holly May 8, 2009 at 11:03 am #

    I’ve never heard of gutter gardening before…. ingenious!

  26. Lea May 8, 2009 at 10:18 am #

    I have tried the hanging planters this year for the first time. I ordered some organic strawberry plants and grew some tomato plants from seed. So far everything is going well, I have one strawberry turning red and lots of green ones. I had researched to learn that the hanging plants were great to keep the critters away as well as ground rot for strawberries, along with my tiny yard has more space!!

  27. c May 8, 2009 at 9:39 am #

    What creative ideas!

  28. Jennifer May 8, 2009 at 9:34 am #

    I’m seriously considering growing tomatoes upside down this year, but thought that I’d have to purchase the “kit” at the greenhouse. I think I’m just going to drill some holes in a bucket from my garage. Much more frugal. Thanks for the idea.

  29. Jerilyn May 8, 2009 at 8:55 am #

    The gutters look really neat! I just planted what would fit on the porch of our apartment leaving room to sit and play for the children. So, a few flowers, peas, grape tomatoes, and garlic.

  30. Erin May 8, 2009 at 4:58 am #

    What type of containers did you use for you garden, Lindsay? And how many plants did you put in each container? I have had limited success with vegetables and flowers in pots, but am willing to keep at it, as the rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks really like my ground-level plantings. I’m thinking of using a galvanized watering trough this year. Anyone have experience with one of those?

    • Lindsay May 11, 2009 at 1:57 pm #

      I think my containers are like 8-10 gallon pots. I just bought the largest size I could find at my local Wal-Mart, actually. I put one tomato plant in each or two green pepper plants. I will be putting several lettuce plants in one as well this time around.

  31. Josh Baltzell May 8, 2009 at 3:33 am #

    I have not tried either one yet, but I did see an apartment with 4 upside down tomato planters holding dead tomatoes. I suspect they underestimated how much they would have to water.

    My wife came accross these little attachments that screw on to plastic bottles and then slowly let out water over time. That could be really helpful in a small container garden.