Hello there plant lovers and green fellows! Here I'll be posting some tips, tricks and hints related to having a garden which:

  • Smells good and fills your house with colors.
  • Provides species to cook with, as well as vegetables and fruits.
  • Combines plants in direct soil as well as in pots.
  • Provides a nice outdoors space where to have meals on sunny days.
  • Produces its own humus from organic wastes.
  • Runs on the cheap.

Note 1: There are many tips for propagation of plants on step 4.

Note 2: Much of the information is contained inside the pictures themselves, so check them out!

Note 3: Start by check these 2 introductory photos with a few examples of what I have (and you can grow too!) at home.

Let me say that all the photos were taken in my garden, and all the plants and fruits shown belong to this garden (unless otherwise stated).

Step 1: Balconies and Pots

You don't need a big area of soil in order to set up a gourmet garden. Even if you have a park, you may want to set up small plants in pots so as to leave the bigger spaces for your trees, as I do.

If you have a balcony with enough sunlight, then it's perfectly possible to grow aromatic plants as well as strawberries and cherry tomatoes. Check the photos where I show plants of tomato, strawberry, mint, oregano, ciboulette, rosemary, thyme, salvia, etc., all of them in pots.

Moisture in pots

Note that soil from the pots will lose lots of water during summer and in dry, windy days, even if it's not that hot, so you'll probably have to water the plants more often than you'd do in an outside garden.

One way to protect plants from excesive sun and wind is to set up a number of combined plants in the same pot, and/or to arrange many pots together. This creates a region with buffered humidity, and also helps protect plants from some plagues.

Size of pots

Strawberries, red cherry tomatoes, ciboulete, tomatoes, and small plants can be grown in rather small pots, may be 10 to 15 cm deep. Many plants can be grown in the same pot, even different varieties. Bigger plants like rosemary or thyme may fit well in such a small pot when they are small, but they will eventually require there own big pot (20 to 30 cm deep, 20 to 30 cm in diameter).

Look at the labels in the pictures for more tips on pots.

Arranging pots

You can use wooden or metal scaffolds in order to put some pots above others, thus making better use of the available space. Such scaffolds may also serve as tutors for those plant which require tutors (like some tomatoes).
<p>Very good instructable.Thanks for nice tips.I think certified landscape architects can do this project in beautiful ways as they provide fabulous <a href="http://www.creativeatmospheres.net/" rel="nofollow">landscaping architecture</a> for your home landscape in within your budget.</p>
those flowers next to ur red lettuce are edible too they are marigolds
what u call Indian Cress we call nastrushums(sp?) the whole plant is edible
Wow. Thanks for the tips. I plan on planting some veggies and herbs and putting them in 18 inch pots. I have a pot for Roma tomatoes (my favorite) I will put two plants on one pot. One for Peppers including jalapeno, anaheim, cayanne and bell. The other for zucchini and brocolli. And one final one for oregano, mint and peppermint (for my teas!). This is going in a very urban area on a drive way that gets morning and afternoon sun. I'm going for looks as I have purchased 4 pots and I want it to look nice. But my question to you is if 4 pots is enough for all those veggies? I think I might be putting too much pepper plants in one pot or does it matter? In centimeters these pots measure 46. I hope you can help.
Dany,<br>You will need to separate your sweet bell peppers from your hot ones by at least 50 feet or they will cross pollinate and you will end up with neither hot nor sweet peppers. Better to keep your hot peppers separated too so that you get true flavors. Plant them with your tomatoes, if you like. Add a marigold to your tomato pot too, to help keep bugs away.
I grow zuchinni in a large pot with great success, usually 2 or 3 plants pwr 18" pot. Direct sun aaaallll day long, I had them in a giant cast iron ornamental frog which did cast some shade on half of it, but the plant itself started growing out and away (so it looked like a giant hairy moss backed angry guard frog) and I had some zukes that got as big as my HEAD! NOO exageration! All and all Zukes in pots do well.
hmm. At this point my Zucchini plants are long gone! They dried up completely. They got full sun all day with no shade. I think full sun is what killed them. You mentioned that your plants got some shade and you had success with that. I think I know what I need to do next year. Zucchini is one of my favs!! specially grilled! my summer is ruined :(. I will post pics of my successes soon! :D
Oh I know<sub> I love them saut&eacute;ed with garlic to, mmmmmmMmm!</sub><br/>
Hey thanks for the comments. I'll answer your question pot-by-pot:<br/><br/><ul class="curly"><li>&quot;a pot for Roma tomatoes&quot;: I don't know this species of tomato, however 46 cm is deep enough for any kind of tomato! In fact, if the plant of Roma tomato is small, you may put more than 2 plants in such a big pot!</li><li>&quot;one for Peppers including jalapeno, anaheim, cayanne and bell&quot;... I'm sorry but I don't know much about peppers... indeed the size of pepper plants varies a lot from species to species (I think, not sure)</li><li>&quot;other for zucchini and brocolli&quot;... well since you pot is very big, this may work; however, zucchini plants are usually very big and have big leaves, which may give to much shadow to the smaller brocolli plant.</li><li>&quot;final one for oregano, mint and peppermint&quot; Mint and peppermint are very invasive plants, so I suggest that you don't mix them with oregano, unless you put an oregano plant which is well grown.</li><br/></ul>Well, good luck with those pots!<br/><br/>
Gracias Luciano. I appreciate your feedback. I'm off to plant. I will post some pics to show you how it goes. Wish me luck. Saludos!!
I live in Arizona wish I could have a mango tree! I love your garden so much I have been inspired to start my own. I think it's great how you made use of old paint containers as pots. Great idea. Thanks.
Mango is a tropical plant, It would not survive Arizona winters, let alone produce fruit. Maybe the genetics boffins will overcome this limitation, or a serious heated greenhouse (a BIG one!) will get you a home-grown mango supply...&nbsp; Let me know how it goes, I'd like a mango-tree, but at 25&deg;S and 1500ft, mango trees grow fairly well, but do not produce fruit. This despite the fact we do not experience frost, let alone snow or blizzard.<br />
Je you are welcome. Post some photos of your garden!<br />
Well it's been about 3 and a half weeks since I planted my veggies. And so far here are the results: The pots with the peppers started out with quite a boom! They began giving off peppers but they started falling off within days after they appeared. They were doing this a week after I planted them. After the peppers dropped new leaves started growing and now the plants are attempting to grow peppers again but this time they are staying and the biggest pepper so far is a bell pepper that is about half inch round. My roma tomato pot is a little slow. In the first week and a half they pretty much didn't do anything but wither in the bottom branches. I cut them off and now new stuff is growing at the top. It's moving quiet fast now but still no fruit growing. My broccoli and zucchini pot is giving mixed results. At first the zucchini plants were growing large flowers and their leaves were getting really big. All of a sudden the flowers wilted dry and the leaves have seized to grow. It appears as though new flowers and leaves are coming soon. The broccoli has been doing consistently well. It's slowly growing and some leaves have become massive in comparison to what they were when I first planted them. One problem with the broccoli leaves is that they are begining to get holes and I've noticed two intruders in the form of caterpillars munching on it's leaves. I took them off the leaves and put them on some weeds. But now the leaves on the broccoli are all eaten up. Should I spray any kind of pesticide on them? or what can I do to keep intruders out? Seems like the broccoli is the only one with this problem. And finally the mints are doing fine. I've grown them before and they are really low maintenance for me. I'm just waiting for bigger plants and bigger leaves before I start using them. I didn't plant my Oregano because I couldn't find it anywhere. Maybe next year. I will post pictures soon! Thanks for all your help.
Caterpillars getting you down??? Go to the beach! But no really, if you get a good number of sea shells and break them crush them, etc and sprinkle a good amount around the entire plant area it should deter slugs. bugs and more. See on their tiny level the edges are SHARP and PAINFUL. They'd probably rather be hungry than dead. There's also a type of sand/crushed rock that I have read about that on the bug level is very painful but fine for us people. Look up organic ways to get rid of fleas (that's how I found the rock dust or whatever it's called). Also, be carefull with the mints, if you put them into the ground, make sure they have a barrier or else you'll be sorry, thos things take over like WEEDS and will get into all your other beds! I'm in zone 5 with -20 degree winters (most everything gets killed off to the ground) and these mint buggers come back two fold in little armies every year. But it's a good thing I like mint.
hmm. That's good to know. But how is this sand on the base of the plant going to help my problem when the caterpillars are on the leaves themselves?
Hi, I know you posted this 2 years ago, but I thought I'll write with a few thoughts just in case it still helps.<br /> The average caterpillar does not get to your plant by 'walking on over' but its Mama the butterfly sticks her little eggs on the underside (most of the time) of a leaf and when they hatch, dinner is already served! So AubreeMarie's ideas of using a barrier around the base unfortunately don't work here - they never have to cross it. <br /> <br /> For a small to medium garden I find the best and non chemical way is to check regularly and pick the eggs off and squish them (check on line what they look like) or if you already have caterpillars, pick them off and feed them to your chicken - if you have them. Or to a pet frog/lizzard/goldfish, or have a bird feeding table somewhere away from the vegetables and put them on there - the birds will love you.<br /> If you have none of those caterpillar recycle options, have an old jam jar with lid ready, fill 1/3 with water and half a teaspoon of dishwash liquid. The caterpillars will drown very quickly. Once a week empty the jar into the rubbish on rubbish day.<br /> <br /> Warm water with a bit of dishwash liquid (about half teaspoon for one litre, go for biodegradable if possible) also makes a great non toxic contact spray for aphids, spittle bugs, spider mites etc. only spray directly onto the bugs you want to kill and repeat after a few days/a week/etc. and then only when they re-appear. It does not prevent them from coming back, just kills them when they are there.<br /> <br /> Oh and for slugs and snails: the night before rubbish day scrunch up some newspaper and place those lightly scrunched up balls around or inbetween those plants that get eaten by slugs and snails. Then spray the newspaper balls with water until they are fairly wet (but not collapsing). Slugs and snails tend to come out at night and they love moisture. So after their nights meal they look for a handy, moist, dark spot - your wet newspaper is just the thing! And the next morning before your rubbish collection, just pick up all the paper balls with their slimy guests inside and throw them in the rubbish. :) <br /> <br /> This turned out a far longer reply that I anticipated. Oh well, I hope it helps someone.<br />
Slugs and snails LOVE beer! Settle a saucer down to ground-level to make it easy for the little blighters to drop in for a drink, donate a few ounces of your Bud, and next morning, round up the carousing enemy. You can eat them (well-cooked, some nasty parasites/diseases can be lurking in wild animals!), or just throw them in the trash.<br />
Well they won't be able to get the base of the plant and crawl up to the leaves if it's surrounded by a "moat" of pain. It's more like a ring of sand around the plant literally like a moat (not too close to the base though. Otherwise the bug would have to drop down onto the plant (say from an overhanging tree or impressive escape from an over flying bird) It's just a non-toxic more natural solution, not necessary the most fool proof.
hmm. I thought they started their disaster strikes on the leaves. I didn't know they start on the ground and work their slow butts up the plants. What I did was I bought a bug spray that is safe on veggies and used that. Thanks for your helpful tips. I'm ready for the next season now. Bring it on!!
Diatomacious earth like &quot;Toffy&quot; said, is for worms, soft bodied insects.Its like millions of tiny daggers that puncture their skin and work their way between the joints in their exoskeletons (shells)&nbsp;and&nbsp;&nbsp;they&nbsp;die from losing all their vital fluids. Its totally organic and you can even worm your dog&nbsp;with the stuff, you can get it at most garden sites,also check out BT bacillus thurengegesis an organic pesticide which kills worms like cabbage lopers,hornworms ect mother nature invented it humans cultured it and mass produced this deadly totally safe worm killer, its a naturally occuring disease for&nbsp; insects in&nbsp;their larval (wormy) stage. one bite on the leaves and they stop feeding, and die in a few days.&nbsp; safe for earthworms (our little buddies)&nbsp;.... &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;
The rock is called Dolomite.
When you propagate plants by cuttings, the big killer is drying out. A mini-greenhouse will help to avoid this. Take a large plastic drink-bottle, recycle the lid, make a few drain-holes in the bottom half, cut around the waist of the bottle, plant your cutting in the bottom half, put the top half back on, and you have a very cheap, effective, re-usable mini-greenhouse. Be sure to keep the plants out of direct sunlight, even a greenhouse cannot protect against over-heating. I usually put 8 or 10 1/2 inch vertical cuts at the bottom of the top half (you paying attention?), and 'weave' the top onto the bottom for stability. Watering is easy enough through the top, but for damp-tolerant plants (basically any with sappy stems, like the geraniums in the article above) sitting your cuttings in 1 inch of water works well.<br />
Very nice instructable! I think is something you lear with experience, but how to tell if different plants can grow together? They must have the same sun and soil needs?<br /> And just one more thing. Mango threes get huge! And I mean HUGE! So be aware when planing your garden's future. <br /> I'm posting a mango three photo, And it's not the biggest one!<br /> <br />
Mine is about 4 or 5 m tall, and may be 2 meters wide by now. It's about 10 years old. Hope it gets as big as that one some day!<br />
This wild lettuce in the second photo is called r&uacute;cula in Brazil, and though it is in the same family as the lettuce, here we don't consider it as lettuce. Just a curiosity... <br />
Where'd you get the saliva!?!Nice garden...I've got watermelon,squash,mint,cherry tomatoes and strawberries!
May be you mean Salvia? Actually I bought it... anyway, you can reproduce it by putting a small green branch in rooting hormone and then in sand:humus mix, in a humid place. Thanks for the compliments! May be you could share with us some photos of your garden?
I believe this particular version of Salvia is more commonly known in the spice world as Sage, as opposed to Salvia divinorum known as the "fun type".
Thanks, didn't know that!
lol... ya i can imagine people running to the nursery to grow their own salvia (non "fun type") and their disappointment when they dont get their usual effect from it.
My! What a detailed piece. Thank you for the information and inspiration. I live in a very hot, dry part of the U.S., but I think I may be able to adapt many of your ideas. Better get started.
Diatomacious Earth is what is used around plants to keep the slugs and bugs away.
Oh and I forgot one thing I wanted to ask. I also bought some Iceberg lettuce plants and those are doing really good. they are very firm into the soil and seem to be doing great. My question is if the heads will appear above or below the soil? I guess I'm asking if I will be able to see the heads of the lettuce as they grow and mature. And how and when should I harvest. I have them started on long pots and I'm afraid I'll have to put them in bigger and deeper pots.
Hey Dany, I'm glad that you're enjoying gardening. Thanks for sharing your results, you may add some photos in the future.<br/><br/>Regarding your questions: I don't have experience with that kind of lettuce, but I've grown some other varieties. Let me tell you that:<br/><br/><ul class="curly"><li>Heads will probably appear <em>above</em> the soil (since they are quite green, only the base is white) as they grow and mature. It may happen that if the plants are too close to each other, then they have to grow vertically. If this is the case, you won't get a very round, compact shape. Anyway, the taste shouldn't change much.</li><li>I'm not sure when is the <em>exact</em> moment for taking the plants; however I'm sure that you must harvest them before they give flowers. In most lettuce plants, the production of flowers comes together with a bittersweet taste. It is not bad as a taste, neither is it toxic, but it's not what you expect from normal lettuce.</li><li>Regarding how: The only thing I can say here is that, with other types of lettuce, if you leave the roots in the soil then you get a &quot;bonus&quot; plant on that season, so you eat twice or three times from the same plant. I don't know if the same holds for Iceberg Lettuce.... but you may try.</li><br/></ul>Good luck !<br/>
Did you say Salvia?
Yes, there are many kinds of salvia as you can see in the wikipedia nature: <a rel="nofollow" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvia">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvia</a><br/>
Yeah I know. That is not the fun kind. I know someone who is growing the fune kind though.
Thanks for taking the time to share your wealth of information with us!
Great job. It all looked so yummy and appetizing. Thanks for the detailed tips on propagation and on composting.
A fantastic site to check out for seeds is <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.seedsavers.org">The seed saver's exchange</a>they are a non profit group that has been protecting rare strains of heirloom fruits and vegetables since the early 70's. I am not affiliated in any way other than that I get all of my seeds through there. They are a fantastic organization that is doing some truly good work. I have 3 5-20 French intensive plots in which I produce much of my own food. I also vermicompost all of my paper goods, food and garden scraps. <br/>
Hi Jeremy, thanks for posting. I'd like to know more about your vermicomposting... Could you make a slideshow, or may be at least a video or some photos?
great post. I'm about to do this. very instructional.
Wow that meal looks REALLY good!
Thank you for all the great info. I just started my first Organic Garden about 6 weeks ago. Just some watermelons, cantalops, tomatoes, and strawberries. All doing well so far.
How about posting some photos of your garden? May be now, may be when you have some fruits to harvest ! Thanks for the comment!
I will take some photos on my next day off (wednesday) Its just a small 8x8 with some hanging plants around the porch.