If your rented home doesn't have a big enough garden or indeed a garden at all - what can you do to exercise your green-fingered urges?
There are numerous alternative 'gardens' you could have a go at creating, including allotments and window box gardening. Whatever your situation, don't give up just because you don't have a 'real' garden - here are a few suggestions and ideas for you.
Allotments are a great alternative to having your own garden – they are relatively inexpensive and a fun way to keep fit. Usually, an allotment is a piece of land (typically around 30ft x 20ft) made available for rent (on an annual basis) by councils, local authorities, parish councils, and sometimes private land owners. From £5 to £50+ per year, you can rent a piece of land, plant beautiful flowers and grow your own fruit and vegetables.
This form of gardening is becoming increasingly popular, and spaces are limited – so you may have to wait until one becomes available. Your local council is probably the best place to start; they will let you know where the nearest allotments are and when you're likely to be allocated one.
For more information on this great alternative to gardening, visit the Allotments & Gardens website.
Window boxes are another alternative to having a garden or allotment. Even when renting a flat with limited outdoor space, window boxes still allow you to enjoy a bit of gardening. They provide useful additional planting space and create a display that can be admired and tended to whenever needed.
Window boxes can transform the look of your house or flat; whether it's a window sill or a small balcony, pots of flowering plants provide great decorative appeal and make your home look much more attractive from the outside.
You're not limited to planting just flowers in your window boxes – vegetables and fruit (potatoes, strawberries and tomatoes, for example) can also be grown in small containers. Just make sure you use the correct soil type and water them regularly. You can spice up your kitchen, too, by planting herbs in small pots!
Preparing your window boxes
There is a range of containers to choose from, including:
- Simple plastic trays
- Ornate wood
Before buying, you should consider how you'll fix the box and whether your sill is wide and strong enough. If not, it's a good idea to speak to your landlord about whether they would be happy for you to fix a window box to the sill.
Although window boxes can face any direction, you should remember that south and west-facing boxes require more watering while north-facing boxes need shade-tolerant plants. If your box is going to live in a hot place, insert polystyrene tiles along the front, to keep the inside cool.
For the best results in a window box garden, your box should be at least three to four feet long but not more than six feet. If your box was larger, it might be too heavy to suspend and secure properly, and it could become difficult to lift.
Only attempt to grow the amount of plants and vegetables you have time to look after properly. Having just the right amount will mean you can give all your window boxes your full attention so they can flourish and thrive.
If you'd like to have flowers instead of vegetables/fruit, begonias, busy lizzies, geraniums, pansies, ferns, fuchsias, and hostas, are ideal plants for a window box display. All of these enjoy shade or semi-shade, but most plants like either sun or half-sun.
For more information about growing your own window box garden visit the My Window Box website.