Not everyone has space to plant vegetables directly in their garden. Even those of us who do may want more space to expand our crops, or to cover an ugly patch of gravel or concrete. There are already plenty of solutions, like tubs and window boxes, but I recently discovered one that combines re-use and an incredible amount of space efficiency - it's sack planting.
What you'll need
To create a sack planter you'll need the following things, all of which can come from re-use sources: - a sturdy plastic sack - plenty of compost - you can use the compost you've been producing from your own garden and kitchen waste, and even stuff that's already been used for a round of planting - it doesn't all need to be fresh and rich - a piece of drainpipe about two feet long - keep an eye out for skips near building work and see if you can fish out an offcut - rubble or rocks, not too big - seeds or seedlings - salad leaves such as pak choi, lettuce or rocket work best.
Building your garden
Place the sack where you want it to end up, and stand the pipe up in the middle.
Fill the pipe with your rubble. This is going to provide the sack with structure and drainage.
Fill the rest of the sack with compost, all around the rubble-filled pipe.
Water the compost to settle it down, and if there's now a gap at the top then fill it.
Pull out the pipe, leaving a sack full of compost with a column of rubble up the middle.
Cut horizontal hole in the outside of the sack, large enough to plant your seeds or seedlings in, but small enough that the compost won't come pouring out.
Plant your seeds or seedlings in the holes and the top of the sack.
Care for the sack garden
The sack will need a lot of water, to reach all those thirsty plants around the edges. If you can turn it from time to time this will give equal sunlight to all the plants. And other than that, follow the usual instructions for whatever salad you're planting.
And if you have any other unusual ideas for planting arrangements leave a comment below - I'm intrigued to hear what else people have tried.
Photo by manalahmadkhan via Flickr creative commons