In my city garden I don't have room for all the big things I used to grow in the country or on my parent's farm so I have been using the self-watering boxes sold at Garden Retreat (Maxikap). ( see www.buyagreenhouse.com/greenhouse_accessories_maxikap.php)
These boxes hold up to a two week supply of water. I already use them in my greenhouse to grow tomatoes fresh basil, cape gooseberry and long English cucumbers.
This year I am going to make use of an underutilized tiny second story patio on my house by planting it up with these self watering plant boxes instead of flower pots. It is a space that is on the west side of the house in the tree tops so it gets more light than the rest of the yard. It is awkward to water pots on this deck so these boxes will be ideal because I can drag a hose up every few weeks instead of every day for regular pots. I don't think I am alone when I say there is a lot of excitement about vegetables in cities and we are all trying to squeeze out a bit more space for something extra.
This year I have been combing the on-line and old-school print catalogues for small vegetables and accent plants I can grow in these shallow soil (about 4" deep) boxes. The catalogues list a wider range of options than I have space. It's obvious I can't grow carrots or most root crops for that matter but spilling cucumbers, tumbling strawberries, spicy lettuce and miniature beans are all possible.
So far I have ordered:
Mercano Beans (Chilterns) - a narrow straight dwarf french bean
'De Cicco' Calabrese (Chilterns) an Heirloom Italian sprouting broccoli
'Super Bush' tomato (Renee's Garden)
'Climbing Trombetta' squash (Renee's Garden) because they will spill over balcony with their luxuriant vines
'Italian Gigante' Parsley (Renee's Garden) - exceptionally good Italian parlsey - once you have tried this you will never grow curled parsley again.
'Monet's Garden' Mesclun lettuce (Renee's Garden)- colourful come-again lettuce
'Sugar Sprint' edible snap peas (Vesey's) - small bush plant
'Small Wonder' Spaghetti Squash- small fruits on trailing plants ideal for tumbling off deck
Hanging Strawberry Plant (McFayden)- trails so can be planted on edge of boxes
French Green Sorrel (Dominion) - Very lemony leaves for fresh eating and soups
See these and other catalogues for seed selection:
Renee's Garden (www.reneesgarden.com)
Vesey's Seed ( ww.veseys.com)
McFayden Seeds (www.mcfayden.com)
Dominion Seed House (www.dominion-seed-house.com)
Chiltern Seeds (chilternseeds.co.uk)