Grow successful vegetable gardens in small spaces

Don’t feel limited by the amount of space you have in your yard – you can still grow a bountiful vegetable garden for your family.

Gardening rules have changed, gone are the days when you needed a huge plot of land to enjoy the fruits of your harvest. Many of us do not have the space or time to have an acre garden plot, but we can still enjoy eating a juicy tomato from the vine and grill up some great home-grown veggies.

There are many tips and tricks to intense gardening in small spaces – square-foot gardening, vertical gardening, container gardening, and key-hole gardening are a few. You should also consider incorporating vegetables in your ornamental and flower beds as a great way to sneak in a few great tasting vegetables with minimal space and work.

There are no rules – gardening does not have to be long endless rows. Beans still taste crisp and sweet growing on a teepee. Carrot, radishes and lettuce make a great porch salad bowl. It’s interesting, the textures are fun and they taste good too.

There are a few essentials you need: good soil, about 6 hours of sunlight a day and water. After you have these basic needs figured out, be creative. Beets and Bright Lights Swiss chard look great in flowering pots of annual flowers on the patio, the greens have a spark of color and the texture is more interesting than spike plants. 

Pole beans on a trellis are a fun way to add dimension to the garden. For example, purple runner beans are used as an ornamental, but are also edible. There are many varieties of vegetables that adapt well to containers and are bred to grow in small spaces. 

Anything named dwarf, tiny, patio, pixie or baby is a good bet to plant in a small space.

For more information on small-space gardening, see “What is intensive gardening” on the Michigan State University eXtension website.

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