Many home gardeners have a limited amount of space in which to grow a garden. Having an acre or two is a luxury most people do not have. What they do have is a tiny little city lot where their house takes up most of the space.
There may be room for a swing set and sand box for the kids, but a large garden is out of the question.
Fortunately, many space saving techniques have been developed that allow families to grow large amounts of fruits, vegetables and flowers in a tiny area. The following tips will help you do just that.
Types of Plants.
Pay close attention to the types of plants you do plant in the garden. Lettuce is a cold growing plant meaning it grows best when it is not blazing hot outside. Tomatoes need lots of sun and heat to produce fruit. Plant lettuce either early in the season or late when the temperatures are not so hot.
Finish that harvest and plant tomatoes in the place of your cold crop for the hot part of the season. Once the tomatoes are finished, re-plant cold crops again for a late harvest. This maximizes your garden space and gives you more of a harvest.
Also watch the growth patterns of the plants you choose to grow. Determinate and Indeterminate tomatoes are a good example. Determinant tomatoes only grow to about 4 feet and when the fruit sets, the plants stop growing.
Indeterminate varieties grow all over the place, up to 12 feet or more and just continue to keep growing and setting fruit. You get more of a harvest from the indeterminate type but they take up a lot of room. The determinant type does produce a good harvest and are much more compact and easy to grow in a small garden.
Grow climbing varieties of plants up trellis structures or within cages. You can train almost any vining plant to climb up vertically even pumpkins and zucchini.
Pole beans and cucumbers are normal garden plants that are trained to grow up vertically, but you can also train other vining plants up a trellis. Pumpkins and zucchini have heavy fruit that might break the vines and sometimes to vines don’t readily grab on to the vertical structure.
You have to manually tie the vines to the structure using cloth rag strips or special garden twisty ties that will not damage the vines. Make cloth hammocks for the pumpkin or zucchini fruit to lay in so that it isn’t so heavy it breaks off from the vine and falls to the ground. Use wooden trellises, wire, fence panels, lattice and other items to make a trellis structure.
Keep Weeds Out and Fertilize.
Weeds will compete with plants you want in your garden to get the nutrients and water. Weeds are very hardy and strong and will most like win every time, so it is important to keep the garden as weed free as possible.
In a small garden any little thing can make your harvest diminish. It is just as important to fertilize your small area for a garden. Since you are probably planting more than one crop in one place throughout the season, fertilization replenishes the soil with important nutrients for all the plants.
Add a little compost to garden before planting and then every time you pull out old plants and put in new ones or when you reseed the garden. It is also important to add fertilizer when plants are about to set fruit and while the fruit is growing. After harvest the soil is usually somewhat depleted and must have nutrients added.
Tried and True Small Garden Techniques.
The square foot garden is probably the most popular and successful small garden techniques. This is where you make a raised bed, fill it with light potting soil and separate it into square feet like a grid.
A certain amount of plants is placed in each square foot and once they are harvested and spent, they are removed and more plants are put in to replace them. This allows for a great variety of plants and a harvest all through the growing period.
Intensive Gardening is another method that employs the use of fertilizing the earth and succession planting that maximizes harvests.
Many organic gardening methods can make for large harvests in a small space and that includes companion planting. Certain plants keep harmful insects away from other plants and can actually encourage the growth and flavor of other plants.
The Native Americans grew corn, squash and beans together because the corn would support vertical climbing of the beans and the squash covered the ground preventing weeds and keeping moisture around the roots. It was a symbiotic.
Planting tomatoes, basil and peppers all together is another example. The basil attracts bees to the blossoms of all the plants while keeping harmful insects away. All three plants encourage growth of the other and make them all taste good too.
Other methods include using containers, grow bags and hanging containers.
Do not despair if you have a small space in which to grow food for your family. You can surely grow enough using these tips and trying a small garden technique. The most important thing to consider when having a small garden is to only plant what you will use.
If your family doesn’t like lima beans, don’t plant lima beans. If there are only 2 people in the family, don’t plant enough tomatoes plants to feed an army. You only need enough to put away for the winter and to eat during the season.