When you think of the words “vegetable garden,” what do you picture in your mind? Many folks picture plowed ground, long furrows and a motorized tiller. Maybe you picture a scarecrow, rows of corn and a hoe.
Many of us need to abandon such common images of what we perceive to be “good” vegetable gardens. Successful vegetable gardens can take many forms and can fit into small spaces. Here are a few suggestions for vegetable gardening in small spaces.
• Container gardening: Many common vegetables can be grown successfully in containers. Eggplant, peppers and other vegetables grow well in planters on sunny balconies and porches. Barrel halves make excellent containers for vegetables on decks. Almost any container that drains well and receives full sunlight will make a good vegetable planter.
• Go vertical: Several popular vegetables develop vines that can take up a lot of space when they reach maturity. Training these vines to a fence or trellis can save space in the garden. I have seen cucumbers, for example, grown on an inclined wire frame. The frame saves space and the ripe cucumbers dangle underneath, making picking easy.
• Use raised beds: Instead of a wide, sprawling garden, take advantage of a sunny corner of the landscape by building smaller, raised beds. The soil in raised beds warms more quickly in the spring and drains well. Raised beds should be built narrow enough to allow you to reach the center of the bed.
• Garden intensively: Containers and raised beds yield the best when you manage them intensively. Plan to use every inch of available space using successive crops. In other words, when you finish harvesting lettuce and early planted crops, follow them by planting beans, peas or other warm-season crops. Don’t let your planting area lay idle.
• Select appropriate varieties: Some determinate tomatoes are called patio tomatoes because they are well-suited to small containers. They may reach a mature height of only one or two feet tall. Some vegetable are available in “dwarf” varieties that take much less space to grow.
You may be surprised how much you can harvest from a relatively small, sunny space in your landscape.
Bell is the Liberty County Extension coordinator. For more information, call him at 876-2133 or email email@example.com.