Garden designer Chris Collins is aware of solely too properly what it’s like gardening in a small area, provided that his London dwelling solely provides him a balcony.
Yet he has created a wonderful haven on that balcony, attracting bees and butterflies, together with flowers and edibles and creating a wonderful oasis away from the city grime.
So at this yr’s BBC Gardeners’ World Live occasion, Collins, head of natural horticulture at Garden Organic (gardenorganic.org.uk) and former Blue Peter gardener, was properly certified to co-design the charity’s Small Space Big Ideas present backyard, a 5mx5m paved area which gained a gold award for its modern planting, biodiversity and use of recycled and do-it-yourself supplies.
Many of the concepts will be tailored to your personal backyard setting, he insists.
Many metropolis dwellers don’t have gardens, he notes. “As a gardener I’m always looking at tiny spaces and thinking how they should be gardened – but you need to give people do-able ideas.”
So in that small present backyard area, he and Garden Organic’s head gardener Emma O’Neill created a pond, a small vegetable mattress, bug motels, a compost bay and vertical planting utilizing recycled supplies.
Here, he provides tricks to gardeners as to how they will use these concepts in their very own small out of doors area.
1. Hanging basket bug lodge
Use two steel hanging basket frames, filling them with an assortment of bits and items through which bugs can shelter, from pine cones and straw, to outdated bits of hessian, terracotta crocks, cardboard, bamboo and twigs. Then tie them collectively. If you haven’t any floor area, this may be simply suspended from above, however give bugs the shelter they want, he says.
2. Gutter planting
Use outdated guttering to create a wall show containing herbs and flowers, simply by slicing the guttering to the required size and attaching it to your wall. You can then fill it with compost and plant away. Collins recommends rising herbs comparable to basil, sage, rosemary, thyme, parsley, mint and coriander.
3. Comfrey feed
“Comfrey is the magic ingredient, the ultimate organic fertiliser,” he enthuses. It makes probably the most nutritious liquid feed when damaged down, however in case you let it decompose in a bucket you’ll find yourself a smelly stew, which isn’t nice in a confined area.
So Garden Organic got here up with the concept of creating comfrey feed in a drainpipe. Secure a protracted piece of drainpipe vertically with a jam jar beneath and a few mesh on the underside of the drainpipe.
Then stuff the comfrey leaves into the highest of the drainpipe, including a weight to compress them, and earlier than you understand it you’ll have liquid feed seeping by means of the underside of the drainpipe into the jam jar.
“I would put two to three capfuls in a five gallon watering can and feed the plants every two weeks. I do that on my balcony at home and get really good results. Comfrey is also a compost accelerator and a soil improver and is easy to grow in a pot. One plant will keep you going for a while.”
4. Mini pond
Build a small body, fill it with a pond liner and you’ve got the makings of a mini pond.
“You’d need to put an oxygenator plant such as elodea in to stop the pond going green and helps prevent a build-up of algae,” he advises. Adding ledges and gravel or small stones in strategic positions will assist bugs, frogs and different wildlife get out and in of the pond.
5. Raised mattress
You can develop rather a lot, even in a small space, because the charity’s 1m x 1m vegetable mattress within the present backyard proved. To replicate this at dwelling, you possibly can use second hand scaffold boards or railway sleepers to create your body. Section off your veg, rising lettuces, spring onions, carrots, beetroot and tomatoes, paying attention to the smaller varieties and trailers if you wish to save area.
“It’s about having a small place for busy people who may just want to graze. Put it into squares and then grow a different thing in each one. I have salad bars at home, growing salad in a trough and then I repeat sow in drills at intervals and I don’t go to the supermarket for salad for nine months of the year,” he says.
6. Upcycled furnishings
The charity’s present backyard featured an upcycled bookcase to show pots of geraniums and different vegetation, which was not so deep that it took up a lot ground area. Collins says: “If you have trellis, arches and upcycled furniture which you can use to display your plants, it just seems you create so much more space.”