When it comes to having a garden we don’t all have acres and acres of land to work with. Some of us only have small backyard plots or even smaller patio areas. So how can you still have your dream garden in such a small space? Here are some suggestions to make the most of your small garden space:
- Pack it in – One thing that many gardeners overlook is that you can pack plants together without harming your harvest if you do it correctly. Some plants just naturally work well together and can stand close quarters. While carrots can’t be packed too close you can plant them next to lettuce without an issue. Since one produces above-ground and the other below there is little damage done to either of them. As long as they have similar harvest schedules or the harvest does not harm the other plants then you are good to go. The square foot method of gardening is a great example of packing a bunch of plants into a small space. Take a look at your desired garden and see what you can uncover. You can also pack flowers and other ornamental plants close together. Not only does this allow you to grow more but it also makes the plants look fuller and more visually attractive.
- Companion planting – Companion planting is a great way to naturally get rid of bugs and other pests while still getting the harvest you need. You can uncover lots of companion plants that grow great together but my personal favorite is corn and bean. You can let the beans grow right up the corn stalk. The beans ward off corn predators and attract beneficial bugs. The corn provides the beans with a living trellis and keeps your beans off the ground and safe. By planting them together you also save valuable space in your garden, even with these two large plants.
- High and low – Similarly you can plant high plants with low plants. Plants like lettuce require more shade than cucumber. However if you create a growing screen over the lettuce you can plant both at once and reap twice the crop. Let the cucumber vines grow over the lettuce for shade and use the shady ground beneath the cucumber to harvest lots of lettuce. Flowers can also be grown this way. Tall flowers can help shade smaller and more delicate flowers. Shade loving plants can nestle beneath larger sun loving ones.
- Keep it small – Another idea for small garden spaces is to pick small plants. There are dwarf varieties of almost every plant, even trees, that produce great tasting food in large quantities. By keeping your plants on the small side you can pack a lot more into those small spaces and get a great harvest. Bay greens and veggies are always a hit and have a wonderful flavor. Best of all many smaller varieties mature faster and are able to be harvested sooner which means you can get even more out of your garden.
- Switch out – Speaking of getting more out of your garden by harvesting earlier, why not time your garden’s harvest and replant. When you pick one item, like carrots, why not replace it with something like lettuce? That way you have a double harvest in the same growing period. You can switch out your harvest schedule to make the most of your planning space. As the seasons change rip up non-producing plants and replace them with new ones.That way you can have a year round harvest without having to have a huge garden.
- Stack it up – Stacking pots is a great way to grow a lot in a small space. Like strawberry pots with multiple holes in different heights you can grow many plants in the same pot without being hampered by the diameter of the top. You can stack smaller pots in a larger one for an adorable and useful container garden.
- Container gardens – Speaking of container gardens, you can grow a lot in a container. Even if your open growing space is limited you can expand it with containers. In your home, out on the porch, hanging in baskets or in widow boxes there are a variety of container to fit any garden size. Best of all you can grow year round by bringing your plants indoors during the crisp winter days.
- Wall gardens – Another method of container gardening is the wall garden. By mounting your containers on the wall you have a vast amount of space to grow without taking up any square feet. Even an apartment dweller can have a wall garden. You can use pots or even gutters to create a perfect wall garden that can effectively expand your garden area up and up. A re-purposed pallet can also be mounted or leaned against the wall for a wall garden. Both beautiful and practical wall gardens are gaining in popularity. Use a fence as well!
- Vertical gardens – In a similar vein you can also use walls, fences, trellis, wires, cages or other methods to make your garden grow up instead of over. Veggies like tomatoes take up much less space when caged and trained to grow up instead of out with no loss to the fruit production. Cucumbers can grow along trellises as well as other vines like beans. Even squash can grow up and over instead of spreading out and taking up valuable garden space.
- Aquaponic – Last but not least is a great way of getting the most out of your garden space. Aquaponic garden systems make for great and productive gardens even without access to good soil. By enclosing the system there are methods to grow almost any plant without having to add additional water or growing solution. This can be a great way to grow whatever you want right there in your home. Keep in mind that enclosed aquaponic systems must remain enclosed, so no rain should be allowed in the system. A green house or simple clear covering can protect you outdoor plants. If you grow indoors then no covering is needed. I have seen huge cucumber plants grown out of a trash barrel with this system and yards and yards of gourmet lettuce, not to mention so many different types of fish you can grow in the same time. It is definitely something to consider. More about this can be found here
As you can see there are many way that you can make even a small garden into a productive and beautiful space. From using vertical growing methods to companion planting there are many ways to make the most of your small garden.
By Humble Seed
Humble Seed welcomes guest bloggers- this post was written by Ken Myers. He holds a master’s in business leadership from Upper Iowa University and multiple bachelor degrees from Grand View College. As president of morningsidenannies.com, Ken’s focus is helping Houston-based parents find the right childcare provider for their family. When he isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his three children and his wife.