My Upside-Down Climbers!
After moving cross-country last summer (meaning no gardening for me... WAH!) I find myself rather broke and living in a tiny upper-floor apartment, with only a teeny tiny porch (mostly path to the stairs, and only about 8 x 10 feet).
I have a little girl who loves fresh veggies, and also a passion for growing-my-own... so I was determined not to give up.
As they do every year, my friends and family passed on a good many seeds to me, and it was hard deciding what NOT to grow. I have started pumpkin seeds with the intention of trying them in a large rubbermaid tub (we shall see, I know a lady who did this with moderate success, and I certainly have the fence for it on the porch), and also some squashes (zukes and butternuts) in reuseable shopping bags. My dining room table is home to a 6-pot herb garden, catnip, and on the floor of my bedroom is an antique pickle barrel full of dill. A matching barrel is on the porch with fennel in it (hoping to get a good seed crop for my dad's tea!)
I have some potatoes growing in trash bags at the bottom of the stairs by the mailbox. My porch and stairway is so cluttered with sprouts and stems and vines... I'm certain my landlord hates me (or thinks I'm completely insane).
Then I came to my favorites... alaska peas (my daughter eats them like candy!) and pole beans. (I guess in the UK you call them runner beans).
I couldn't do without these this year, but was completely out of space. So I took a risk and stuck the new seedlings into homemade upside-down planters (one from a pot, the other from a one-kilo coffee can). When I repotted the pole beans, I broke every last stem (and cried for nearly an hour!) but the beauty of the upside-down can was that they "band-aided" themselves, and in fact even grew more vines at the fracture sites. Just 3 weeks later, both plants are enormous, I have nine pea pods, and just this morning (after the pictures were taken) I noticed a few buds on the beans as well! All hanging from my curtain rod in the west-facing kitchen window!
I never thought I'd do so well with such a small apartment and no actual ground to work with! The only major problem has been acquiring the bags upon bags of topsoil, compost, and potting mix for my endeavours. As for fertilizer, I have a bunny who supplies droppings (don't knock it til you try it! That stuff is always available and works far better than the best store-bought slow-release granular), and I don't have space for a composter, but I feed my plants a mixture of coffee grounds and steeped eggshells, in different strengths depending on the species.