For most of our adult lives we've rented our home. While it certainly can make gardening more challenging, we didn't let it stop us. In one property we rented for many years the property owners allowed us to remove some of the lawn in favour of a vegetable garden. We were thrilled! Unfortunately we found that sort of flexibility in a rented property was pretty unusual, so our usual approach involved lots of container gardening and ingenuity.
Pics: Throwback to one of our little creatures exploring the patch at our rental, daily haul from one of our rental vegetable patches, baby broccoli and snow peas growing up our repurposed cane lounge frame.
Here are our top 5 ways to grow herbs, vegetables and fruit in a rental:
1. Pots, pots and more pots. Yup, pots are your friend. The benefits are you can move them to catch or avoid more sunlight and you can take them all with you when you move on. We've found pots do need a bit more TLC though...mostly in the form of more watering and feeding.
2. Balcony Gardening. The next best thing to having a backyard is a balcony. Might even be an advantage if the local wildlife can't access it. There are so many great products out there now to make balcony gardening more accessible. Get creative and play around with various heights, vertical gardens (like these ones) and of course lots of pots of different shapes, sizes, colours and textures.
3. Multiple levels are your friend. Shelves and furniture can be used to maximise space if you don't have much. Hanging baskets are another way to fit more plants in. Plant stands (have a peek here) can help you fit more in.
4. Windowsill gardening. There's no rule that says you have to grow outside. A sunny windowsill is a great spot for seedlings, herbs and sprouts.
5. No dig gardens. If you're not worried about having to replace a bit of lawn, you can always pop a no dig set up on top of the grass. We've done this before and it was easier than we thought it would be. Pretty low cost if you take the garden infrastructure with you and really only needs a bit of turf to replace the lawn before you move out.
If all else fails there's always community gardening or even guerrilla gardening, but that's a post for another day.
Nowadays there's heaps of clever gardeners sharing innovations and ideas. Here is a round up of some of the best articles, videos and resources for gardening folk who are renting.
One of our all time favourite gardening programs, Gardening Australia recently did a feature on a couple of resourceful gardeners, Steve and Rabea, who have shared some wonderful information on portable compost systems and wicking beds.
Sustainable Gardening Australia have an article that covers a lot of ground (like what I did there?😆 ) about rental property edible gardening. It provides clear and comprehensive information on finding/prepping pots, raising seedlings, watering/water saving tips, DIY water tanks and choosing plants to grow. All while being easy on the wallet and the planet. Find it here.
So much incredible advice here from the wonderful permaculture pioneer, Morag Gamble. If you are keen to include permaculture principles into your garden when renting, this is a great article. Click here to read about ways to have pots of herbs, pots of vegetables, pots of worms and even pots of fruit!
The lovely folk of Milkwood Permaculture have an excellent post (right here) about converting a lawn to veggie patch in 8 weeks! They cover planning the beds, prepping and making the beds, sourcing seedlings, planting for the season, reviving/feeding the soil and more. If you delve into their archives you'll find they have previously replaced lawn with veggie gardens, only to remove the veggies and replace the lawn when they moved out. How's that for enthusiasm?! Definitely another option for eager urban growers (as I mentioned earlier, we did it once too, and it was easier than you might imagine).
Hope you found some inspiration in that lot and don't let being in a rental hold you back from having a crack at growing some edible plants :)