It’s never too late in the season to plan a new vegetable garden, even if it’s the heat of summer. You can always plant a fall garden or decide how you want to change your garden next spring. Growing your own vegetables gives you time to outside and it’s extremely satisfying to taste the results. It can also be a way to save money and make sure you are eating healthy food that you grew yourself.
There are creative ways to maximize what you can plant in your vegetable garden regardless of size. Take a look at each of these creative ways to grow vegetables and decide which one will work for you. Let us know if you try one and send us a photo.
1.) Vertical Garden
Give your plants the support to grow upward, this allows you to limit the footprint that your plant occupies. Vegetables that grow well vertically are cucumbers, tomatoes, peas, pole beans, squash and melons. To take advantage of unused space, you can also plant pots along the fence and grow smaller plants like strawberries or herbs.
Vertical supports can be crafted from any number of inexpensive sources. This photo shows how metal pipes fastened to a fence with a fabric shoe tree can create space where there was none.
You can plant along a fence, wall or use a metal cage. You can read more about how to build your own metal cage or trellis in this article.
To learn more about using a trellis to maximize growing space see this article from Rodale’s Organic Life or this article from Balcony Garden Web. If you want to mix in some flowers with your vegetables, there are many flowers that grow well with vertical support like Hollyhocks, Bougainvillea, Blue Moon Wisteria, Morning Glory, Campsis Radicans (Trumpet Vine), Honeysuckle and Clematis.
2.) Keyhole Garden
A Keyhole garden is a specific shape of raised-bed garden with a secret ingredient in the center, compost. The compost in the middle nourishes the plants around it. It works well in dry climates. The shape of the garden makes reaching both the compost and the surrounding plants easier. It can be round or U-shaped.
Photo is from this video on building a keyhole garden in Uganda.
The walls around the outside can be made from stones, metal sheeting, bricks or cinder blocks. Some people line the interior of the key with wet cardboard or newspapers before they add soil.
We also have an informative post about keyhole gardening.
3.) Pallet Garden
The pallets are used to create a type of frame for a raised bed garden. To build one of these you will need a pallet, weed blocking fabric, staples or nails and soil. You attach the fabric to the bottom of the pallet or the side with fewer cross planks (instead of one every few inches). Once you have attached a base you can add soil to the top of the pallet and use the top boards as spacers.
4.) Square Foot Garden
Square foot gardens are raised bed gardens with a very specific soil formula. The name comes from the one-foot grid space used to divide the bed. There are three steps to square foot gardening: 1.) build a raised bed box lined with a weed blocker, 2.) fill it with the special soil mix and 3.) add a grid. The special soil mix is 1/3 peat, 1/3 vermiculate and 1/3 blended compost.
This video has a tutorial for building a square foot garden. This method is not good for growing some root vegetables that need a slightly deeper soil to grow in.
5.) Bucket Garden
Most people use 5 gallon buckets. They work like any gardening container and are easy to find and inexpensive. Remember to allow lots of room for your mature plants to fit. Don’t plant too much in each bucket. The soil needs to have lots of organic matter, approximately 50%. You can grow almost any type of leafy green, beans and tomatoes (be sure to plant determinate tomatoes if you don’t have room to stake them).
Watch this video about bucket gardening.
6.) Fabric Pot Garden
If you don’t have much space to grow your vegetables, it’s still possible to grow vegetables in grow bags. You can even do this on a balcony if you have no yard. You can grow anything from potatoes (in a 30 gallon pot) to herbs. The pots feel like felt but they are actually made of a very durable polypropylene. They have the benefit of being light so you can move your plants around a bit more easily. The pots pictured are Dynapot brand, which is available on Amazon.
7.) Straw Bale Garden
This method doesn’t even require soil but it does require some time. The straw has to be treated for a few weeks before you can add your plants. Once the straw is treated it begins to break down. Your plants can then get all the nutrients necessary from the decomposing straw. In fact, it’s important to keep soil out. You can plant almost anything expect corn.
To read more about straw bale gardening visit this site or read this informative post about how to get started with straw bale gardening. You can also watch this video about straw bale gardening.
If you are looking for more creative ways to plant vegetables, stay tuned… Part 2 is coming up shortly. If you have tried any of these methods send us a photo or let us know how they worked for you.