You don’t need a large area to have a vegetable garden. All you do need is good soil, plenty of sunshine, a water source and probably a fence.Limited gardening space doesn’t necessary need to be an obstacle for growing vegetables. A well-planned and organized garden can make planting go quickly and efficiently for maximum yields in minimum space. If space is limited use the land twice, or try these intensive cropping techniques.
Space Saving Techniques in Small Vegetable Gardens
Companion crops – This can be accomplished by sowing the seeds of a fast and slow growing vegetable together in the same row. For example, radishes (fast maturing) and carrots (slow maturing) can be sown together. Mix radish and carrot seeds and plant together. Radishes are a short-season crop so will be harvested before the carrots need room to grow. This is also a good method of thinning the carrots. Another method is to alternate rows of fast and slow maturing vegetables. An example would be a row of leaf lettuce between two rows of tomatoes.
Succession planting – As soon as one crop is finished, plant another. After short-season crops such as lettuce, spinach, radishes and peas have stopped bearing, they can be removed. Plant carrots, beets, Swiss chard, turnips or green beans for a later crop.
Interplanting – Grow two or more vegetables in one area by planting slow (long season) and fast maturing (short season) crops. The fast maturing vegetables will be harvested before the crops begin to crowd each other. Harvesting the short season crop also provides additional space for the later maturing vegetables. Slow starting, late-planted crops, such as tomatoes, peppers, bush squash, and cucumbers, may be transplanted between rows of peas, spinach, and other short-season crops. The short-season vegetables will stop producing when hot weather begins and can then be removed.
Bush varieties – Plant “bush” varieties of cucumbers, tomatoes, beans, peppers and squash that produce fruit on much shorter vines. “Bush” refers to growing habit. These plants take up less space in the garden than standard varieties.
Use vertical space by staking and trellising – Some crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and pole beans may be supported by stakes, poles, trellises, or fences and grown upright rather than on the ground. Use a trellis or fence to support pole beans, cucumbers, and squash; cage or stake tomatoes, they will take much less room this way.
Square foot gardening – This is a form of intensive gardening in which the garden is marked off into squares of space for crops rather than planting in straight rows. The name comes from partitioning blocks of garden space that are 1 ft. x 1 ft. A common arrangement is to mark off squares that are 4 ft. x 4 ft. (16 sq. ft.). This area is then divided into four parts that are 2 ft. x 2 ft. One tomato plant or equally spaced seeds are then planted in these square areas, depending on the space needs of the plant.