How to Grow Vegetables in Small Gardens

vegetable and flower basketWhen people tell me they wish they had the space to grow a vegetable garden, I always respond the same way:

If you have a small sunny space, you can grow just about anything you want.

I’ve learned this is true after many years of experimenting with small-space gardening. My growing experiments have taught me that plants will grow just about anywhere, if gardeners give them what they need.

Need proof? Last spring I planted a complete flower and vegetable garden in hanging basket. I recycled a hanging basket from a previous season and filled it with two kinds of flowers, a yellow cherry tomato plant and a big bunch of fernleaf dill.

The basket was beautifully delicious!

If you think you don’t have the space for a vegetable garden, think again. Look for a sunny spot on your patio, deck, balcony, backyard, front yard or wherever you have a small garden space. If you don’t have a spot on the ground, look up. The sun might hit a spot on the fence or a strong wall for a hanging container like mine.

For fruiting plants, like tomatoes and peppers, the spot needs about 6 hours of sunshine a day. Herbs and leafy greens can grow with even less sunlight.

In fact, one of the first lessons in my Craftsy Small-Space Vegetable Gardening class is how to find the best planting spot with a simple sun survey of your planting area.

One of my favorite planting places is the container garden that takes up a corner of my patio. I’ve grown all of my favorite vegetables and herbs in that garden including tomatoes, peppers, beans, cucumbers, squash, lettuce, beets, carrots, assorted herbs and a lot more.

Besides having enough sun, the secret to container gardening is matching the mature size of the vegetable to the size of the container.

Just about any kind of container can be planted with vegetables, as long as it’s large enough and has holes in the bottom to allow water to drain.

You can use clay pots, plastic containers, self-watering containers, cloth pots, planting bags, buckets, barrels or bushel baskets.

If you want a free option, ask your bakery to save you a few of the empty five-gallon frosting buckets. These plastic buckets are made from food-safe materials, have a handle and are the perfect size for planting one tomato or one pepper plant. Drill or punch holes in the bottom and you’re all set for planting.

Fill each container with a potting mix that’s meant for containers. Don’t use soil from the garden because it won’t drain as quickly, causing root problems.

Use cages, trellises or stakes to keep plants, like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and beans, off the ground.

Mix in a slow-release plant fertilizer and then plant your favorite vegetables or herbs.

Keep the containers watered and never let the soil dry out completely.

Fertilize every few weeks with a water-soluble plant fertilizer to keep plants healthy and productive.

Harvest the fruits and vegetables as soon as they’re ready to keep the plants producing. Herbs can be cut at anytime.

Even if you have a small-space flower bed, consider planting a few vegetable plants alongside the flowers for your own beautifully delicious garden.


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