a tiny gas meter box garden

This, to many people with lovely edible gardens, back yards, ample sun, and green fingers will probably not be the post for you. This is a story of a couple of happy pots that despite their partial sunny aspect, and unlikely sitting position (on top of a gas meter box) are surviving.

When we first moved here, I was desperate for some greenery. I spent quite a bit of money on containers, seedlings, soil, potting mix, mulch, and hangers to go off the fence. The Monkeys and I trawled the streets looking for more containers we could grow things in. Carting them back home with high hopes of a sea of green down the side of our flat. Time went by, and I did grow things. I tried to companion plant, I looked up seasonal planting guides and tried to make smart choices with what I chose to grow. Some things grew, some things were eaten to stumps by usually slimy creatures of one kind or another. I looked up natural ways to get rid of pests. I went out at night with a torch to protect my little patch of green. I would check on these same pots as soon as I woke, looking anxiously out my window to see if they had survived the night.

Unfurl yourself slithery beast from those delicate green tendrils. Begone, and never darken my gas meter box again!

Time went by and I had got to the point where I was putting more and more money into my poor little pots. I was getting nothing back in return except for disappointment and frustration. Getting the right levels of acidity, sunlight, depth of potting mix was getting too tricky. Edible gardens in pots was just too hard for me with the partial sun aspect and resources that I had.

I gave up.

I planted flowers. Flowers that would hopefully attract bees. Maybe that would be something, a tiny something I could do.

Time went by and the pots slowly called to me again. I really wanted to grow something on that darn gas meter box and falling down paling fence. I didn’t have an acre, or a backyard. All I had was a bricked sideway apartment block.

I thought I would try with just one pot. Don’t worry about the rest of the pots sitting stacked up. Just focus on the one.

Rosemary. I popped in some worm castings, gave it some daily whispered love to its green stems… and bless my Birkenstocks if it didn’t grow!

It is growing, still growing. I tentatively added a blueberry, and it still survives. My dad gave me some mint. Despite being eaten to green stumps by minute caterpillars, it’s still with me too. (I went out and plucked the caterpillars off twice a day until there was none left.)

Mama, why are you throwing the caterpillar towards the road?

It needs to go for a WALK!

I got optimistic and planted some Italian chilli seeds, within a week green shoots were coming up. Big green leaves…hmm, I might not have the greenest thumb around but unless I’m wrong, Italians don’t grow chilli in the shape of cucumber leaves. (Presuming that’s what it is)

I also had a geranium in a fence container, two capsicums sprung up as a surprise package and seemed to suck out all of the life of the geranium while it looked pretty good. They then battled for top dog, couldn’t decide who was going to be boss so it seems they both have given up and are now looking a little exhausted from the whole ordeal and worse for wear. Never mind, I can console myself with my little patch of greenery to the right.

My little green gas meter box garden.


* If anyone can answer a couple of my ‘I’m not so sure’ questions, I would be very thankful.

1/ What should I do with my chilli/ cucumber plants? Should I haul one out? Which one? (Given, that it’s a miracle they both look happy, and I’m a little nervous about moving either while they look so…alive.)

2/ Is it really a cucumber? Zucchini…god forbid in that tiny pot, pumpkin?


41 thoughts on “a tiny gas meter box garden

  1. Kudos to you for your perseverance. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post and the caterpillars needing to go for a walk is too funny! I hope that somebody comes to your rescue very soon with your questions – sadly I cannot help.
    πŸ™‚ Mandy


  2. What good selections for a little garden! I’d pull out the big-leaved thing. It looks happy now, but I don’t think a little pot is its happy place. It isn’t a zucchini, could easily be a pumpkin. The chili could do really well in the pot. It probably won’t bear this year now, but in a warm spot over winter, you might start getting chilis early in spring. You do need to thin to one per pot though, and add a little mulch on top to stop the soil drying out.


    • Thanks for that Linda. I’ll take the big fella out today, and see if I can transplant some of the chilli. The selections I think were all done by survival of the fittest. They seem to be the hardiest for what I’m trying to grow them in. Now I just need to keep them alive!


    • It is lovely being able to duck out and snip some of my own rosemary. (Note to self though, don’t take it all from the one side, on my overly enthusiastic first snip! The poor plant has been trying to re-balance itself ever since.)


  3. I was a flat dweller for many years and one flat had a balcony that I managed to grow tomatoes on, I tied them into the railings and had salad leaves in tubs, bird feeders on the outside of the railings. It looked great when it was all ‘working’ but the logistics of filling the pots, getting the soil up 3 floors, emptying pots at the end of the growing period, transporting bags of wet soil over beige fitted carpets and so on was fairly nightmarish. I always want to yell ‘it’s not so easy growing in pots,!!’ to those glossy gardening programmes on TV. I think we had chillis once indoors in a sunny window and they grew for a couple of years and made chilils and then succumbed to aphids. Basil is a good one to grow in a windowsill. and as for my rosemary, I loved her. She fell from the kitchen window, I had perched her outside on the ledge, smashed her pot on the ground below, but she survived! Good luck with those babies Brydie – I am sure they know they are much loved πŸ˜€


    • That is one tough rosemary!
      Pots are hard. I started off enthusiastically watching all gardening programmes doing edible pot gardens, which then developed to ‘pah!’ and turning it off when ever they came on. I’m always really impressed when I see a sea of edible green peeking through someones balcony. Basil…*sigh*, I did try a few times. Slugs around here just love it. There must be a slug website…”party at No. 3 tonight!” I even got to the point where I was bringing the pot inside at night to protect it.


      • Sorry should have been more precise…Basil doesn’t grow well outdoors here, the nights are too cold for it, it likes a hot sunny indoor windowsill or greenhouse in the UK usually, well it might grow outdoors ok in Cornwall or somewhere very mild…

        Do you have nematodes in Australia? We have hostas now we have found nematodes…


      • Only being a wanna-be green thumb I had to look up Nematodes and Hostas. (…Not the celestial galaxies I originally thought them to be.)
        I would presume yes, we do have them but I’ve no experience with them. Do the worms eat other edible plants or just go for things like the hostas?


  4. Transplant the smaller plant into a new pot. The cucumber/zucchini/pumpkin will need to go in a much bigger pot in order not to get root bound. Good luck.


  5. Not to worry. A little water when it’s dry, a bit of all purpose plant food from time to time and soon it will tell you what kind of plant you are investing your time and effort in. Grinning


  6. And a beautiful pot garden it is too! You battle caterpillars, while we fight off slugs. Nature is amazingly relative, no matter where you go – personally, I’d want to know what the mystery plant was, but know that if he’s a member of the cucumber family, don’t try to transplant him – that won’t work – however, peppers will transplant nicely.


    • I’ve fought the good fight with the slugs too Doc. If they smell a hint of basil or lettuce they are all over it. Little slime buckets they are!
      Everything got moved around this morning, so we will see who survives and who is but a green memory…


  7. I’ve had success with peppers in pots, they grow to the size of the pot and you get mini peppers…pumpkin types don’t do so well unless they are varieties made for pots. I have no luck with rosemary…it’s too cold here for them to winter over and too dark in the winter for them to be brought in.


    • Oh I just thought…for spring, I’ve had luck getting a big bag of potting mix/compost and laying it down, then cutting a x in the plastic and planting tomato transplants. The bag acts as mulch and the tomatoes are pretty good (and no container necessary)


      • I love the idea of the tomatoes done like this, but have given up on tomatoes. They always end up with a fungal disease/ not enough sun/ and something eats them…fingers crossed for the chilli though!


  8. Container planting is better than no plants at all!
    I don’t think that is a cucumber plant- the leaves are way too big- perhaps a squash of some sort?
    I have grown tomatoes, peppers (capiscum), and cucumbers, and many assorted herbs and lettuces successfully in containers- but you have to play close attention to watering and nutritional needs.

    Yours look healthy and happy!


  9. Yay! Thanks for sharing pics of your Gas Meter Box garden! I agree with Linda and Heidi…that small (at the moment) plant there looks like a pumpkin..maybe it came from your worm castings? Talking of which, happens to be one of my favourite feeds for pots – keep adding that, they’ll reward you for it muchly.

    I’d be pricking those little chilli’s out into separate pots, they’ll grow much better on their own. Keep us posted on your little garden, won’t you! I love the vision of you flinging the grub towards the road because it had to ‘go for a WALK’, lol!! πŸ™‚


    • It was with nervous shaking hands I transplanted this morning. Chilli is in three pots now, and pumpkiny thing, another big pot…(although, it doesn’t look so happy already.) I’m sure it came from the castings too…how good are worms! πŸ™‚


  10. I love your garden. We grow lettuce in a run of window boxes that once contained geraniums and I grow assorted hers and tomatoes on our deck. We live on an extreme hillside that makes a vegetable garden impossible. It sounds like your plants are all doing well. Good for you :-). Have a great evening. Blessings…Mary


  11. OMG! This is the BLOG for me!! I make so many attempts at growing plants (edible or just decorative…)! I’d love to be a frmgirl, too, but I live in an extra small city apartment. All the same I’m lucky enough to have a lot of outdoor space where I can grow many plants. The major part of this space is paved and only a little part can be considered a garden: anyway, I managed to plant a quince tree and a pomegranate tree. As for the rest, I grow everything in pot (exept sage): rosemary, thyme, marjoram, mint, basil, a lemon tree, strawberries, raspberries and tomatoes. Well, these three plants (strawberries, raspberries and tomatoes) need larger pots so I have to make some changes. This year I’m planning to plant some zucchini, eggplants and potatoes in large bags: I hope to make it! My garden exposition is not that great (north-east), but a part of it it’s sunny almost all day long. Actually, too sunny: the pavement is almost white so in summer plants suffer frim heat. I’d love to exchange tips and curiosities with you, if you don’t mind! πŸ™‚
    P.S. Thanks for stopping by blog so I could find yours! πŸ˜‰
    P.P.S. “Mama, why are you throwing the caterpillar towards the road? It needs to go for a WALK!” It was sooooo funny! I laughed to tears…. πŸ˜›


    • Oh thanks Rita, that’s really kind.
      Your garden hapenings despite living in a small city apartment sound amazing. That is just an impressive list of things that you are growing! I’ll be interested to see how you go with your growing in bags, potatoes especially.
      Glad to have found your blog too πŸ™‚


  12. I just get my basil and parsley growing when the possums get hungry and eat the parsley, then tiny grasshoppers eat the basil. Here in Italy, whatever I put in a pot grows. I have just put pansies in and they will last until I change them for geraniums. I also have daffodils, hyacynth, tulips and the roses are starting to bud.


  13. Yay Brydie! Love your little gas meter box garden πŸ™‚ I reckon you just need a colourful kids windmill stuck in the box. If you’ve seen my backyard you’ll know I love those happy whirligig things πŸ™‚ I’m sure I’ve seen the chooks pecking at them to make them spin around as well!

    I used to live in a flat too…and had endless pots up and down the stairs!

    Could you plant anything on the nature strip?


  14. Brydie, I think your awesome for persevering. I’ve had little shady dark courtyards & been able to grow lovely flourishing hanging pots of flowers & Ive had sunny little patches & never been able to win the battle from the little pests…, I’m not as disciplined as you so I’ve always thought I get the results I deserve when it comes to gardening 😦
    Your gas meter garden is fabulous., I’d be mighty proud of such efforts in the concrete jungle πŸ™‚


  15. we have pots in our concrete backyard and I have been amazed that most have survived – especially our kale which just keeps on producing which has surprised me because I expected it wouldn’t grow here considering it is not in the shops much. Mint, rosemary and bayleaves are ones that seem to take care of themselves. Sage and lavendar have been more fragile.


  16. Pingback: just how hot is hot? « Cityhippyfarmgirl

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