Having a small garden in doesn’t mean you can’t grow a lot of vegetables. By using some space-saving techniques and the right choice of vegetables, you can grow a lot of bounty in a small space.
Try Vertical Gardening
One technique for increasing yields per square foot is to grow vertically. This can be done either by building vertical planters or by supporting many plants that would otherwise spread out along the ground.
Vertical planters can include hanging pots or tiered plant containers — these are often marketed for patios, but are useful in any garden space. Growing up rather than out is a space saver.
Supporting plants with cages, trellises, and tepees (either purchased or home made) can greatly increase yields per square foot. Many plants like cucumbers, some squash, tomatoes, beans, and others grow very well vertically.
Select Indeterminates for Small Gardens
Also called “everbearing,” indeterminates are a great choice for the small space, casual gardener. They yield throughout the season rather than all at once. Several varieties are available this way including tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, some beans, peas, and strawberries. Look for “dwarf” or “patio” varieties if you don’t want them to grow too tall — some indeterminate plants can grow over 8 feet high!
Grow Early Season Vegetables for Small Gardens
Another method is to plant in sequence so that early season (aka “cold-tolerant”) vegetables come up and bear fruit first (usually by mid-July) so that you can plant a second crop in their place as late-season (see below) food.
A similar method is to plant fast-maturing plants alongside slower growing plants so that the fast-bearers can be harvested and pulled when they are just beginning to crowd the slower neighbors.
Popular early-season veggies include: snow or shell peas, Swiss chard (similar to spinach), kale, rhubarb chard, mustard greens, parsley, early spinach, beets (for greens), most leaf lettuces, chives, leeks, green onions, and radishes.
Grow Late-Season Vegetables
Many of the above can also be grown a second time in late summer through to the first frost. Some varieties can handle a light frost and are good for very late planting. Good vegetables for a fall harvest include radishes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, beets, cabbage, Swiss chard, and kale. Garlic and shallots can also be planted in the fall for a spring harvest.
Choose Dwarf Varieties for Gardening in Small Spaces
There are literally hundreds of dwarf varieties of every popular garden vegetable you can name. Any vegetable with the names “baby, dwarf, patio, pixie,” or “tiny” in their name is a good bet. The small size of these compact plants allows you to grow more vegetables in less space. Read the seed packet or seedling plant’s description and note the expected measurements at maturity.
Want to learn more about small space gardening?
Check out these helpful resources:
University of Kentucky – Gardening in Small Spaces
Purdue University – The Fall Vegetable Garden