Ever since I started vegetable gardening I’ve been telling others how wonderful it is and encouraging them to get involved in it, as well. There’s something about putting a seed in the ground and then being able to pick food from the large plant that grows from it several weeks later. Aside from that it’s much less expensive to pick food from your garden than it is to shop at the supermarket. However, many people tell me they simply don’t have room for a vegetable garden. I beg to differ. Below are my top five tips for growing vegetable gardens in a small space.
Ignore the Rules
Many people read the back of seed packets and see the planting suggestions and immediately believe they have no space for a garden. My peas, for instance, had advised me to plant the seeds somewhere around six to 12 inches apart. However, I think spacing (for most plants) is a bit overrated. I plant my pea seeds literally touching each other so they grow like a bush, and they do quite well that way. I’ve planted many crops very close together in groups rather than rows – even corn – and while I may have to thin some here and there, they mostly grow just fine. If you have a flower bed, you have space for vegetables. You can even grow a tomato plant in between flowers!
Grab Some Containers
Container gardening is one of the easiest ways to make more room for your garden. All you have to do is buy a few containers, fill them with soil, put in your seeds or starts, and go for it. For the most part light and water are what your plants need, so if you can provide them that you should be able to grow them. I have several things growing in containers and they do quite well. The easiest veggies to grow in containers are probably tomatoes (even though they’re technically a fruit), cucumbers, peppers, and any kind of lettuce or herb.
Stack Your Garden
Another way to make more space for your garden is to get a rolling multi-shelf metal organizer. Something like the kind that are commonly seen in classrooms to hold art supplies or books is preferable. If you can find one with slits in it as opposed to solid shelves, that’s even better. Why? Because then the spaces and structure act like natural trellises for your plants, and the several layers will provide you with space to grow.
Pick a High Yielding Vegetable
If you’re really cramped for space and you can only use one or two pots you can still capitalize on the space you do have by choosing to plant high yielding vegetables. If you plant something that only provides you with a few veggies, or only offers up vegetables once, then you may be slightly disappointed in your garden. However, I’ve found that peas, cherry tomatoes, green beans, and cucumbers tend to be very high yielding, as are peppers. Harvest often and you can wind up with recurring crops, as well.
Share with a Neighbor
Whenever my dad does construction projects on the house he always asks the neighbors if we can use their trash bins to put busted up concrete, marble, and whatever else we have a lot of. Our neighbors are always happy to share. If you have a neighbor with a lot of land, offer to split the vegetables with them if you can use some of their space. This is even more practical if you have a shared side yard or a space you can easily reach from your own property. Not only will this increase your sense of community and help you get to know your neighbors better, but you can plant much more, have more vegetables, and be sharing with others, as well.
I believe that by following one or more of the above tips you can substantially increase your space or capitalize on the space you already have. Vegetable gardening doesn’t have to be a crazy adventure of planting acres of seeds (although that would be fun). It can be as simple as planting a few seeds in a container and seeing what grows. If you want to grow veggies but you’re short on space try out one of the tips above and I bet you’ll find that you have more space than you originally thought.