Whatever size space you have, you can garden. Whether you only have a windowsill, a small patio, or a postage stamp yard in North Carolina, it’s still possible to grow some of your own food. Not only does homegrown food taste better, but gardening is also great for our mental and physical health. Here a few ideas to make the best of the gardening space you have available so you can enjoy an abundant harvest.
1. Be strategic about what you grow. Choose vegetables that will yield a lot of food without a lot of space. That means veggies like lettuce, tomatoes, or even potatoes, which produce lots of food from a single plant. Avoid less-efficient veggies, like corn, which need quite a bit of space and only produce about 1-2 cobs per stalk.
2. Consider the vegetables you purchase most often at the grocery store. If lettuce, tomatoes, and carrots are always finding their way into your cart, stick to growing just those things. You can grow much more food if you limit the types of plants in your small-space garden.
3. Take advantage of vertical space. You may not have very much space on the ground for your crops, but there’s plenty of room higher up! With a lattice or bamboo poles, you can grow climbing vegetables like peas and beans that take up very little space on the ground. Potatoes and carrots can be grown in deep pots or even 5-gallon pails, which you can stack on a shelving unit placed in a sunny spot.
4. Hang up some planters. There are lots of different herbs, fruits, and vegetables you can grow from a hanging planter. Strawberries do well in hanging baskets, as do cherry tomatoes, mint, some varieties of eggplant, and even small peppers.
5. Try companion planting to use your space more efficiently. Companion planting has a few different benefits that are helpful in a small garden. For one, companion planting can help shade the soil in your garden to slow the evaporation of water. Secondly, it helps maximize your harvest in minimal space. And third, planting certain crops side by side can help deter garden pests. Try planting lettuce, basil, and onions around the bottom of your tomato plants. You could also try growing carrots underneath climbing beans, and potatoes underneath your peas. Don’t forget marigolds; they’re easy to grow, and they repel many common garden pests, so they’re a great companion for anything!
6. Keep track of your watering. In a small space garden, you’ll have to pay pretty close attention to the moisture levels of your plants. When they’re in peak growing season, vegetable plants can be really thirsty, especially if you’re maximizing your space and growing more than one crop in the same space. But, be careful not to overwater. If you’re growing your garden in containers, make sure the containers have ample drainage holes before you start planting, so that your plant roots don’t end up waterlogged. When you’re growing in containers, it’s a good idea to check the soil every day. To do this, poke your finger into the soil up to your second knuckle. If the top inch is dry, it’s time to water.
Don’t be discouraged or shy away from gardening if you only have a tiny yard. Even on a bright windowsill, you can easily grow some herbs or salad greens! You don’t need much to get started; just a container, some soil, and some seeds. If you need more supplies, give us a call. We can help you find everything you need to grow a small-but-mighty garden.