All the dirt on gardening: Small spaces and tights budgets

If you have a backyard that you couldn’t swing a cat in (one of my departed Mum’s sayings), or only

If you have a backyard that you couldn’t swing a cat in (one of my departed Mum’s sayings), or only a balcony, you can still have a vegie garden if you get enough sunlight. Most vegies need at least eight hours of sunlight. There are a few that will grow well in part shade.


  • Pots are a good idea as you can move them to follow the sun. Buy large pots that can be placed on a moveable surface with wheels though so you don’t hurt your back.
  • Have a think about what you would like to grow.
  • Buy a good quality potting mix. And water well especially in summer.
  • Obviously pumpkins, and other running vines will take over, so look at the smaller compact plants.
  • If you have somewhere that something can climb think about a passionfruit vine or other types of climbers such as beans or cucumbers.
  • Tomatoes are now available as smaller more compact varieties. There is also tomato potting mix available. There is nothing like a home grown tomato – the shop ones just don’t fit the bill.
  • If you live in a fruit fly zone grow cherry tomatoes, they are resistant to fruit fly and you have a continual harvest over the summer.

Mini fruit trees

There are now miniature fruit trees on the market. The fruit is the same size as a regular tree. You obviously get less in a more compact space but who needs 30 kilos of mandarins? I have a miniature nectarine tree in my garden as well as miniature apple trees. Look at your climate though. My miniature apple trees have never done too well as our area is too warm, and the dog eats them off the tree. Birds always ate my nectarines, so this year I found a wire enclosure in the shed, placed it over the tree and put some chicken wire from the shed over it. It has done the job and cost nothing.


Before you plant look at how deep the root system will grow. If you are growing strawberries you don’t need a really deep pot. I have had a never ending supply of strawberries this year. Years ago when we had our laundry redone I kept the laundry tub. That is too deep and would be a waste of soil if I filled it with potting mix. So we half filled it with stone then added the potting mix. That was about 6 years ago and we haven’t replaced the potting mix, but top it with chicken manure pellets or compost each year. My worm farm kept boiling in summer and killed the worms. I didn’t need it anyway as I have 2 compost bins going. So I’ve used the trays to plant strawberries this year. Strawberries run – what started as a few near the mandarin tree took over, so I now contain them. With strawberries and those runners, wait until the runners have a good root system, cut them off the parent plant, remove the parent plant and plant the runners. This will ensure a bumper crop the following year. Apart from the cost of the original plants and a bit of potting mix it hasn’t cost me anything for six years or more of lovely strawberries. And don’t take any notice of those who say they need to be planted with straw around them – if they are in pots or containers the snails and slugs won’t get to them, it’s the birds and possums that are the problem.

Another small area planting idea is herbs and lettuce. From experience though don’t plant rosemary, mine is now two square metres in area so would not be ideal for a small garden.

Other hints for those on a tight budget are plant from seed (much cheaper than seedlings). You may have more than you need to plant out. Share with a neighbour. My neighbour and I are always doing that as well as swapping. If you give your neighbour or friends some of your glut they will reciprocate. Cuttings from some plants can also easily take root. Join a gardening group or community garden as we learn from one another. Happy New Year of gardening.


Do you have any other gardening tips to add? Share them below.