Top 5 Ways to Grow Food in Small Spaces

October 15, 2021 10 min read

Ways to Grow Food in Small Spaces

Do you want to grow your own food but don't have a lot of space?

You can still grow delicious food in small spaces. There are many different ways to do it, and each method has its own benefits.

For example, container vegetable gardening is an easy way to control the environment of your edible plants because you can closely regulate the soil, irrigation, and pest control.

Intensive gardening methods allow you to plant more per square foot, which means you'll get more out of less space!

Hydroponic gardening might be for you if you want something that will produce all year round. The water-based nutrient solution keeps root systems cool, which allows an extended growing season through the summer. Setting your hydroponic system up inside of a greenhouse means crop production all year round.

If community gardens are more up your alley, then go for it! More urban areas are beginning to understand the importance of vegetable gardening in these food deserts. Reach out to your community to find out what is available in your area.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to growing food in small spaces so don't let anything hold you back from getting started today!

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Benefits of Growing in a Small Space

One advantage of vegetable gardening in a small garden is that it is easier to get started with a limited budget.

With most gardening projects, there is some level of professional help needed to get the project up and running. You may need to hire help or rent equipment to prepare the garden area. The costs go up if you need to build raised beds and bring in truckloads of soil.

This is not the case when you are gardening in small containers. You can usually find free or inexpensive growing containers on local buy/sell/trade websites.

If you're feeling creative, many household items can be recycled into growing containers when drainage holes are drilled into the bottom.

Growing food on a small scale will also give you a good chance to improve your gardening skills.

It is easier to do some repairs and make minor alterations in your garden when you only need to focus on a small area. You are more likely to experiment with what works best for your gardening space.

Rather than trying to grow everything that looks interesting, your limited space will force you to focus on the edible plants you enjoy growing the most, or those that are the most productive in a small space.

When gardening in a small space, it is important to know which plants will be better suited for your climate and circumstances.

A large garden can be overwhelming for new gardeners, especially when trying to manage pests and diseases. Small gardens are easier to maintain.

Weeds are easier to manage in containers because they can be caught early and are easily pulled by hand. Containers also raise your garden higher off of the ground, so you don't need to spend as much time bent over your garden.

Irrigation is easier to control because you don't need to worry about water pressure over hundreds of feet. You can automate most of your watering by running drip lines and setting them on a timer.

Now let's take a look at the different methods of small space gardening.

Intensive Gardening

Intensive gardening is a way of planting multiple crops in a relatively small area. These gardening methods are typically grown in raised beds and focus on maximizing the space available to achieve the maximum harvest possible.

Intensive gardening does put a lot of burden on the garden soil, so it's important to amend it with compost and organic fertilizer on a regular schedule. Once a month is generally recommended while the garden is producing.

Square Foot Gardening

Square foot gardening was made popular by Mel Bartholomew in his book by the same name. His book gives recommendations for plant spacing based upon a one-foot square. The plant spacing is slightly tighter than what is typically recommended for row and plant spacing.

The goal is to give each plant enough space to spread out and grow as best as possible while shading root systems and blocking weed growth.

This system relies upon the use of raised beds, which is part of the reason why the close plant spacing works. Row planting usually means compact soil between plants as gardeners walk through the garden.

The soil of raised beds is looser because gardeners walk around the beds, which makes it easier for root systems to expand and absorb water and nutrients.

Vertical Gardening

Vertical gardening is another way to grow food in small spaces. This system allows you to grow up rather than out, so it is perfect for gardens that don't have a lot of horizontal space.

Vertical gardens are often incorporated into walls or fences, with climbing plants growing up and being supported by the wall. Containers can also be hung on fences and walls for shallow-rooted plants like lettuce and herbs.

It is also possible to build vertical frames and archways to grow vertically from garden beds. These are popular for vining vegetables like pole beans, squash, and cucumbers. Indeterminate tomatoes can also benefit from growing up a trellis.

Succession Planting

Succession planting means you plant rows of the same vegetable at weekly or bi-weekly intervals so you can continually harvest through the season. Since the vegetables aren't all ripening at the same time, you don't need to stress about being overwhelmed with more vegetables than you can use.

Once you have harvested the vegetables, you can replant that row or rotate in another variety of vegetables. This can be done all at once or gradually as you harvest vegetables.

This system requires a good deal of planning and organization, but it is an effective way to make sure there is always something fresh available for your family to eat.

Compact Varieties

Many vegetables have compact varieties that are better suited for growing in small spaces and containers.

For instance, most varieties of carrots mature to 6-8" long, which means they need a soil depth of 12-18". This can be difficult to obtain with container growing. However, Little Finger Carrots mature to 3" long, which makes them better adapted to containers because they only need a 6" soil depth.

Look for dwarf varieties of your favorite vegetables that have been bred and selected for producing more in a smaller space.

Extend Your Season

Sometimes it can seem like we're just starting to make progress when our garden, then the season is over. By extending your season with row covers or greenhouses, you'll give yourself more time to grow more produce.

Greenhouses are advantageous because they can be built tall enough for vertical plants and you can use them year-round. A simple greenhouse can be made by stapling clear plastic over a wooden frame or make one out of metal or PVC pipe with clear plastic roof material.

Hoop houses are another option that is similar to greenhouses, but can be less expensive to construct. They can be simple with PVC and clear plastic, but these are typically short and better suited for covering individual garden beds.

The other options are steal framed hoop houses that are large enough to walk under and can be used to cover several rows of a garden. These larger hoop houses are gaining popularity among lettuce growers in cold climates who want to continue production through the winter.

You can also build cold frames over raised beds or existing garden beds. Cold frames are typically covered with clear plastic or recycled glass windows. They keep frost and snow off of plants while solarizing the soil and allow many gardeners to continue to grow cold-hardy plants through the winter.

Container Gardening

The most popular technique used for growing food in a small area is the container gardening method. The basic idea of this gardening method is that the plants are grown in a small container.

This container can be made of glass, plastic, or even fabric. The most important thing to consider is the depth of your container. Research the root depth of the vegetables you wish to plant and use vegetable garden containers that will be deep enough to accommodate each plant.

One advantage of using a container gardening technique is that it is a more controlled environment that is easier to monitor.

Container gardening is a good way for growing food in a mini garden because the gardener can use better quality soil and control soil-borne pests and diseases.

Windowsill Gardens

Window boxes are an excellent way to grow vegetables and herbs with a shallow root structure if you don't have much space. A window box is a small container that can be placed on your windowsill or ledge.

They're advantageous because they are convenient and can be tended while you are still in your house.

Window box gardens are also good for people who live in apartments or condos since they can be grown indoors while taking advantage of available light. You can also add a grow light above your plants if you do not have any windows that let in enough light.

Window boxes can be found at garden and home improvement stores. Since they are designed for being used indoors, it is important to make sure they have a way to catch any water runoff and prevent damage to your home.

Gutter Growing

Gardeners have gotten very creative with vertical growing over the years and have incorporated gutters into their food production strategies. These gutters are typically mounted onto a frame, fence, or wall and are used for growing shallow-rooted fruits and vegetables like lettuce and strawberries.

The gutters also help with water distribution since they can be angled slightly (like they would be utilized on a house), and the excess water can be distributed between the other plants in the gutter system.

Hanging Baskets

Hanging baskets are popular for flowers, but they can also be a valuable resource in growing fruits and vegetables. Tender plants that are commonly low growing and susceptible to snail and slug damage benefit from being grown in hanging baskets because it places them above the ground and away from pests.

Some vining plants such as tomatoes also do well growing and hanging down from baskets since it can help to keep them off of the ground and away from soil-borne fungal diseases.

Microgreens and Baby Greens

Microgreens and baby greens can be an excellent solution if you need to grow a lot of greens in a small space. These container-based systems feature greens and herbs that grow quickly and are harvested before they reach full maturity.

You do not need a lot of containers or a large setup to grow microgreens and baby greens. A few growing trays placed on a shelf with a grow light is all you need for a continuous harvest of fresh greens all year round.

Hydroponic Gardening

The use of hydroponic gardening techniques has made growing food in small spaces easy and affordable. They provide a safe, inexpensive way to grown fresh vegetables in a nutrient-rich solution rather than soil.

They are easily set up indoors when needed and are a good choice for growing a small vegetable garden.

There are many systems available from simple DIY setups to elaborate commercial systems. Larger systems can mean a more expensive initial investment, but there is a reason why more commercial growers are beginning to utilize hydroponics.

Hydroponic gardening offers maximum control over growing conditions along with maximum production from the plants. Hydroponically grown vegetables typically grow faster and produce more than conventionally grown vegetables. They are typically also grown indoors which means limited pest pressure and more climate control.

Community Gardens

Community gardens are also a good way to grow food when you don't have any space of your own. These gardens are typically in an urban area where the space is limited and there are not many other options for community gardeners.

Community urban gardening plots can be found in places like school grounds, parks, or private businesses that have agreed to get involved.

These types of gardens are great because they promote the idea of growing your own food while helping to get fresh veggies into neighborhoods that would not otherwise have them readily available.

It also gives people who do not have any other means to produce their own food the opportunity to provide for themselves and their families.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you grow the most vegetables in a small space?

A gardener can utilize creative techniques like container gardening, hanging baskets, hydroponic gardening, etc. to grow food in small spaces. These creative techniques can work in tandem with each other and help tremendously in the pursuit of successful gardening efforts indoors or outdoors.

Plan out your garden space and decide how you want to integrate the different options available to maximize your space. Then focus on growing the vegetables you have had the most success with in the past as well as those you eat the most often.

What are good vegetables to grow in a small garden?

Many vegetables are easy to grow and do well in a small space. Some of these include beans, peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, lettuce, and herbs. There is also a diverse range of delicious greens for salads like arugula and various types of kale.

Focus on bush and dwarf varieties of vegetables that can produce better in a smaller space. You can use vertical gardening for vining plants, but you'll need to plan how much vertical space you have available as well as how much the vertical growing plants with shade the rest of the garden.

How can I make my garden beautiful in a small place?

Container or small space gardening does not need to be limited to vegetables and nursery containers. Your garden is only limited to your imagination. Utilize whiskey barrels, old wheelbarrows, and other creative containers and convert them into plant containers.

Use containers of varying heights and sizes to add variety and dimension to your garden. Many containers can also be painted to add splashes of color.

Interplant pollinator-friendly flowers and herbs in your garden to add beauty and fragrance in addition to attracting bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects.

How do you make a minimal space garden?

It's important to plan out your rows when building a garden, and ensure that you're utilizing different planting methods for maximum production in your small space.

Decide where you will place your garden and determine where the sunlight is during different times of the day. Plan to place full sun vegetables in a space that will get at least 6-8 hours of sunlight.

Shade tolerant plants could wilt or burn if they get too much sun or heat, so plant to place them where they will get less sun during the hottest part of the day.

It is even more important to plan your garden ahead of time when you have a limited space to work with.

Conclusion

Growing food in small spaces can be done with a little creativity and effort. The key is to plan out your garden space so that it's ideal for the type of vegetables you want to grow, taking into account how much sunlight they need as well as their size limitations.

Additionally, take advantage of creative gardening techniques like container gardening or vertical growing if your available space is limited.

Finally, don't forget about adding flowers or herbs that will attract beneficial insects - this will not only make your garden more beautiful but also healthier!

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