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MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin

Welcome to our blog! Written by staff at MMWD, “Think Blue Marin” explores all things water in south and central Marin—water supplies, conservation, new projects, watershed management, and more.

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Jan 15

Tiny Gardens

Posted on January 15, 2016 at 9:41 AM by Ann Vallee

by Charlene Burgi

strawberries in container
Tiny garden container strawberries
The home improvement websites and TV shows seem to be featuring tiny houses these days—houses that claim to have all the amenities packed into a space that can be hauled around by a pickup truck.

Miniature ideas morphed into new ideas this past week when my granddaughter Justine sent an email asking how she might plant a vegetable garden at her recently purchased condo. The deck off of the living room is, with a generous measurement, 3 feet wide. The sun exposure is so hot that it bakes the paint off of the railings.

Her queries brought up two major dilemmas that caused me to scour my memory for some solutions. The first concern was the intense heat that would, on a relatively cool day, fry a cactus. I recalled how we protected the shade-loving plants at our nursery years ago by stretching knitted shade cloth with metal grommets over a wood frame to keep the plants protected from the afternoon sun. Shade cloth is produced in various percentages that allow for as much light as needed. With a simple wood frame, I knew Justine's husband Nathan could piece this sun-block idea together with minimal effort.

Next came the tiny space dilemma. Vertical gardens have also flooded our garden senses the past few years, and what better application of this concept than for a tiny deck? My suggestion was to find a pallet or cut one to size to fit along the narrow portion of the deck. Wood slats can be added along the bottom to enclose the gaps between the front and back side slats, creating the space to be boxed in for direct planting. Easier yet is to purchase containers and plant directly into each container. Special hooks can be placed over the slats to support potted plants containing compact vegetables, herbs, and strawberries. A 3-foot-wide trough can be installed under the pots to catch any dripping water from the irrigation.

Irrigating those pots may raise concerns about frequent watering. Using polymers in the soil will help retain the moisture for a longer duration. Add mulch as a top dressing and the recipe is set for an awesome tiny garden!

Are you looking for ways to reduce your garden space or downsize your garden? Perhaps you might have experience working with tiny gardens that you would like to share. I am open to new ideas!

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