By Marianne Binetti
Growing more food in less space: That’s “microfarming” -- the secret to adding more fresh vegetables and flavorful herbs to your diet, without breaking a sweat.
Tip 1: Mix food with flowers. The compact corner design (above) provides not just food and pretty flowers but also a fun and fragrant place to sit and relax. You can grow snow peas on strings up the back wall to mix with fragrant sweet peas. Note how the raised bed walls are made from cement blocks set on their short ends, then capped with wood for more stability. The walls of this bed make it easy to sit while you seed, weed, and harvest.
Growing tip: Plant flowers with veggies to attract pollinating insects. Scatter onions around ornamentals to discourage aphids.
Tip 2: Grow up. A simple tepee, made by sticking three or more bamboo poles into a large pot, saves space and gives the garden a vertical dimension. String not only secures the poles but also supports climbing peas or beans.
Growing tip: All parts of the nasturtium (pictured) are edible. The seedpods of nasturtiums are good substitutes for capers.
Tip 3: Be colorful and supportive. The bright-green paint makes this cucumber support pretty enough to slip into any sunny space. I like to use spray paint to quickly turn any veggie support into a whimsical garden accent. This design has screws at the corners, so the legs can fold flat for winter storage.
Growing tip: In cool weather or for an earlier start, you can drape bubble wrap over this support to make a mini greenhouse. Cucumbers and squash ripen sooner (and are less prone to rotting) when kept off the cold, damp ground.
Tip 4: Grow fresh herbs on a kitchen windowsill. If you have a bright window, you don’t need a garden to enjoy the fresh goodness of herbs. I get weeks of fresh basil just by pinching the tips from the tops of one potted plant. Even better, I don’t need soil or tools. My local Lowe’s sells Bonnie Plants in biodegradable peat pots. I just set a 6-inch pot inside a decorative container and start harvesting. These peat pots turn light in color when the plant needs water, so they serve as visible reminders to keep my herbs slightly moist.
Growing Tip: Parsley, oregano, mint, and sage are other easy “cut and come again” herbs that do well on a kitchen windowsill. The more herbs you use to flavor your food, the less salt you’re tempted to add. So here’s to a sunny window -- and your good health.