Not everyone is lucky enough to have a large space in which to garden and grow food. But even living in high-density housing in big cities, it is possible to take small steps towards a more sustainable life. With a balcony, or even just a windowsill garden, it is possible to grow a range of herbs, leafy salads and fruits. Copper rain chains can help small-space gardeners to really make the most of all the resources at their disposal. They can be used to guide the rainwater that falls on a roof into the containers used to grow food and to create a permaculture garden on a small scale.
Permaculture is a design system that gives us a practical blueprint for a more sustainable way of life. It teaches us how we can work with nature and renewable resources to live in a way that is good for us and our neighbours and good for the planet. By growing even a little of our own food, we can reduce our impact on the planet. The more food we are able to grow or gather locally, the lower our individual carbon footprints will be.
The great news is that you can create a small-space garden for far less money and with far less effort than you may imagine. Plants need sunlight and water to grow and both of these are free resources when you use the water and light that are naturally available. Harvesting rainwater with a copper rain chain allows you to water your plants for free. Using a rain chain, you can channel the water collected into a growing container or into a barrel to store it for later use. To further reduce the cost of creating a small space garden, think about using recycled containers – containers that held food are perfect for growing some more. You can also use reclaimed materials such as old sinks or bath tubs, troughs or wooden pallets to create growing spaces. You can also lower the cost by creating your own growing medium – you can make a compost at home using vegetable scraps from your kitchen. By using everything you make sure that there is no waste.
Making use of all resources is important and one of the resources is space. In a small-space such as a window box, balcony, door step or tiny yard, making the most of every inch is even more important. A rain chain can help with the design of a sustainable small-garden system. There are a number of different options, from vertical gardens to hydroponic systems to simple container gardens. Think carefully about how you can make the most of your space – thinking about vertical space as well as the horizontal.
Once you have your copper rain chains in place, leading to your containers filled with a fertile growing medium, it is time to choose your seeds. You may be able to get seeds from a friend or neighbour – even if not, seeds are relatively inexpensive. Choose cut and come again salads, radishes, and herbs to begin with. Soon your garden will begin to grow.
Guest post by Elizabeth Waddington
Elizabeth Waddington lives with her husband and her dog on a sustainable smallholding in Scotland. She is a green living consultant and freelance writer with a particular interest in permaculture and organic growing.