Tips on RV gardening

By: Jackie Norman, Photography by: Gareth Scurr

Full-time RV’er Jackie Norman shares her tips for gardening on the go

As the previous owner of a large and productive garden, one of our biggest worries was how we would be able to continue growing our own food once we were living in a tiny space and constantly on the move. However, we needn’t have worried.

Our friend Cory has an incredible caravan garden

Over the past two years, we have progressed from a single pot of parsley to herb planters and a thriving vege garden. If we can do it with our camper van, anyone can!

Use your space and imagination

I love my unique Pokémon garden

Part of the fun of motorhome gardening is finding ways to make even the smallest spaces productfive. For example, how about hanging a small herb garden over the sink? This simple idea keeps your counter space free, and when you water them, any excess runs right into the sink. Vertical spaces such as doors are also a great way to maximise your gardening space.

One novel idea is to grow small plants in canvas shoe holders. You can hang them inside on your motorhome door or outside from your awning when parked up. A shower with a skylight can be also an excellent place to grow plants. Just add a couple of extra shower caddies to pop the plants in.

Portable planters

Rectangular tubs are perfect for under-vehicle storage

You grow your plants in pretty much anything. You can find containers to suit all sizes. Styrofoam boxes make great lightweight planters and you can usually pick them up free from supermarket produce departments. We pick up household buckets from The Warehouse for a couple of dollars each and drill holes in the bottom to grow many of our vegetables in.

If you’re planning to stay in the same place for a while, grow bags are a good idea, or cheaper still, reusable shopping bags. These are easy to move, don’t take up much room and are perfect for growing potatoes in.

For smaller containers, think anything from a clean recycled can to a two-litre plastic bottle cut in half. The possibilities are endless. As long as it has a place to hold potting soil and has holes in the bottom for draining, it should work.

Bring the outdoors in

Cacti and succulents do well on a sunny dashboard

Many people enjoy having plants in their motorhomes, just like a regular house. Ferns, cyclamen, and African violets all do well and look lovely in the front or back window, and they also help purify the air.

Just like any houseplant, they benefit from a good liquid fertiliser once a week. One of our friends has been growing lettuces on the dashboard of her bus for years.

Our home-made terrariums

While our dashboard is too small to grow veges, we made our own little terrariums with cacti and succulents out of glass jars.

Consider your environment

Our first precious parsley plant sadly didn’t survive the possum

Paying attention to Mother Nature is critical for your portable garden’s success. Your outdoor plants will still need protecting from frosts and harsh sun at various times of the year depending on the location. We find covering ours with newspaper in winter does the job perfectly, even in the Deep South.

Move any window or dashboard plants outdoors or into a shady spot during the day to keep them happy in summer. Also, think about critters who might take a shine to your prized plants, particularly when out in the middle of nature. Our lovingly tended parsley plant was first pulled out of its pot by a duck before finally being dug up and eaten by a possum.

Tips for moving

Obviously, when on the move, you want to keep your precious plants as safe and secure as possible. A popular place is to put them in the shower during moves. Self-watering containers are a good choice for transporting with less mess.

We can also recommend purchasing anti-skid pads for the bottom of pots, or at least stick houseplants down with Blu-Tack, so that they are not sliding around during driving.

A little effort pays off


This campground in Warkworth shares its homegrown veges with campers

Whenever you pull into a campground for a few days, get your plants outside so they can soak up the sun. Water them too and let the water run out the drainage holes on the bottom.

Leave your plants outside as much as possible while you are parked. Even when you are travelling and only stop for a couple of hours’ break, take a few minutes to put your plants outside. The rewards are well worth the effort.

Make every drop count

Many motorhomers are savvy at collecting rain water

To avoid getting caught out, collect rainwater on and around your motorhome to ensure your garden stays healthy during the hotter months.

Ask your fellow motorhomers how they do it or search online for a solution that suits your size and style of motorhome.

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