Consider the Potato: Container, Small Space and Balcony Gardening Books

May 19, 2020 | Jen McB

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I have been thinking a lot about potatoes recently. The Van Gogh painting "The Potato Eaters", the great famine that caused many people to leave Ireland for North America, and the one time some kid used potato as an insult. It is not just a vegetable, it is life, and how can life be seen as negative?

Miniature wheelbarrow
Toy wheelbarrow. From the Toronto Star Photograph Archive.

I will tell you a truth... I did not panic buy toilet paper at the start of physical distancing, but I did panic buy seeds.

Maybe you did too.

I now have about a dozen little growing greens sitting in the windows and nowhere to place them once it is warm outside. Oops.

Well, there is the container option which, believe it or not, can support potato life. Potatoes really are wonderful, you simply let them grow some eyes and plant them, piling the soil on top every so often. The longer you leave them in there, the bigger they will become. They are easy in the way that most pests cannot eat them and if you are a week or two late in harvesting they will just get bigger.

But if you want to be able to grow foods other than potatoes, here are some great gardening books to get you started. These books (all of them area available digitally!) focus on small spaces, balcony gardening and container gardening. Not everyone has an entire yard to devote to vegetables, and starting in a container is a pretty low-stakes way to begin.

Any Size  Anywhere Edible Gardening

Any Size, Anywhere Edible Gardening by William Moss

"Grow your own food - no matter where you live!"


All New Square Foot Gardening

All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew

"In this second edition, Bartholomew furthers his discussion on one of the most popular gardening trends today: vertical gardening. He also explains how you can make gardening fun for kids by teaching them the square foot method"


I have it on good authority that tomatoes enjoy being planted upside down in hanging baskets and that this method is much easier than propping up the heavy vines. The bees will reach them, but not those pesky green caterpillars.

A strawberry plant is also ideal for balcony life, or beans which enjoy having the rails to climb on. 


Apartment Gardening

Apartment Gardening by Amy Pennington

"Urban Pantry author Amy Pennington details how to start your own garden in the heart of the city. Whether you're a veteran gardener or a novice getting your hands dirty for the first time, this book provides hands-on advice to start using urban space in a sustainable, efficient, and inexpensive manner. Learn how to creatively grow squash on windowsills, flowers in planter boxes, and cucumbers on trellises: every inch of your home offers an opportunity for something planted, pickled, or preserved."


Balcony Gardener

The Balcony Gardener by Isabelle Palmer

"Discover how to make the most of your gardening plot, however confined, with Isabelle's creative and inspiring projects, including creating a cocktail window box from which you can make your own delicious fruity drinks, recycling containers such as wine and fruit crates, and creating a country garden in the smallest urban space."

Continuous Container Gardens

Continuous Container Gardens by Sarah Begg Townsend and Roanne Robbins

"This inventive guide presents 48 tried-and-true designs that yield endless variations. No matter the season, your container garden will be glowing with bursts of color and varied textures that are in tune with nature."


There is also the option to go vertical. Like a lot of people in the city my space is at a premium, especially space in full sunlight. Look around your space to see if you have an old bookshelf or cart that you can use to get started.

Vertical Vegetables and Fruit

Vertical Vegetables and Fruit by Rhonda Massingham 

"With tepees, trellises, hanging baskets, cages, wall pockets, and multilevel raised beds, you can reap bountiful harvests in even the tiniest growing areas. From kiwis on a clothesline to tomatoes dangling outside a window, Vertical Vegetables & Fruit shows you how to construct and maintain a thriving and abundant garden in whatever small space you have available."


Vertial Vegetables

Vertical Vegetables by Amy Andrychowicz

"Grow beautiful and high-yielding small-space gardens with Vertical Vegetables."


Gardening skills are honed over time and there is always room to improve. One of these books just informed me that my seedlings are wilting because I did not pinch away the shoots that came up too close together, and that best results come from using seeds no older than a year.



What are some of your favourite fruits, herbs and vegetables? What are you trying to grow in your garden this year? Share in the comments below!