When your space for growing your own food is limited, any home vegetable garden ideas that will make your garden more productive are worth looking into. I know, because we used to live in a suburb and had the proverbial postage stamp-sized backyard.
In this article, I want to give you six ideas that most people with limited growing space – whether you have a tiny backyard or an apartment balcony – can put into practice starting today.
Idea #1: Trellis everything that can be trellised
You may already know that peas require a trellis to grow up, and that cucumbers like to climb up trellises.
But did you know that you can trellis many types of melon and winter squash varieties, as well? The trick with doing that is to trellis only the smaller varieties – say, those that are cantaloupe-size at maturity – and then when the fruit grows to be about the size of an orange, to wrap it up and attach it to the trellis so the weight of the fruit doesn’t make it fall off the vine before it’s mature.
You can use netted bags such as what lemons and onions typically come in at the store, or you can use old pantyhose. Basically, you need a material that will stretch as the fruit grows, and that is strong enough so that it won’t break.
Idea #2: Mount shallow containers to a fence.
YouTube is replete with ideas on how to grow things in gutters attached to fences or the outside of apartment walls. Below is one.
I will say, if you either live in a hot-summer climate or don’t want to be constantly irrigating the soil, you might want to use plastic window boxes instead. They are deeper than gutters, and so hold more soil and thus won’t require watering as frequently as gutter gardens do.
Idea #3: Grow greens in pots on a metal shelf.
This home vegetable garden idea is a great way to take advantage of vertical space, especially if you don’t have a fence or wall that you dare attach gutters to. The metal shelves that are available at Big Box stores are coated so that they won’t rust, so you can leave them outside season after season.
Level a spot in your backyard garden that gets at least six hours of sun, buy one of the shelving units, and assemble it on the level spot. Then, cram each shelf full of pots of lettuce, herbs, kale, whatever.
Because the spot will get sun for most of the day, all of the plants – even those on the lower shelves that are more shaded – should get enough sun for greens to grow.
That said, if you use small enough containers to have three rows of them on each shelf, forego that idea. To make sure all of the plants get enough sun, only have two outside rows, and leave the middle of each shelf empty.
Here’s an irrigation hack for such a set-up: Buy a shallow plastic storage container at least thirty inches long for each shelf. Cover it with either three layers of lime-green landscape fabric or panda film to keep the plastic from getting sun damage.
Plant your plants in small grow bags – a one-gallon bag for each lettuce, a three-gallon bag for each kale – and set the bags inside the shallow boxes.
To irrigate, simply keep about two inches of water inside each plastic box. Shake up fifty drops of orange oil per gallon of water to instantly kill any mosquito eggs that get laid inside the boxes.
Idea #4: Utilize interplanting wherever possible.
This is one of the easiest, yet least-used, of the home vegetable gardening ideas for small spaces. Interplanting is when you either plant narrow-growing plants with wider-growing ones, such as carrots in between heads of lettuce, or early harvest crops with later harvest ones, such as radishes in between tomatoes.
A related trick, if you live somewhere where the summer temperatures average well above eighty-five degrees (F), is to plant smallish, cool-weather plants to the north of large, warm-weather plants.
For example, if you have four tomatoes growing in a row, plant a lettuce or two on the north side of each tomato, and the tomato will protect it from much of the hot summer sun rays.
Idea #5: Use a stackable planter.
The brand really does matter if you decide to invest in one of these, because the cheaper ones don’t allow for even irrigation all the way to the bottom of the structure.
However, if you want to significantly increase the number of plants you grow in a very small area, investing in a quality stackable planter, such as the kind you can buy from greenstalkgarden, might end up being the perfect solution for your backyard garden.
Idea #6: Grow in nooks and crannys.
When we lived in the suburbs, I grew things under bushes in the corners of the yard and along the fence. I also let cilantro and red malabar spinach, both being plants which freely reseed and come back year after year, grow wherever they popped up as long as they were close to the back patio or other area that we didn’t need to keep mowed.
You can grow lettuce in the partial shade of bushes. You can grow a tomato in a five-gallon bucket next to a porch or balcony post that you can easily tie it to as it grows. Does the place where your hose connect to the outside faucet drip when the water is turned on? Even if it only drips once every few seconds, a water-loving mint plant might flourish there.
Your imagination and ingenuity are the limit!
When it comes to home vegetable garden ideas for tiny spaces, there are probably at least as many as there are small backyard gardens. Try a couple of the above ideas, and see where your own ingenuity takes you!
Happy (small space) gardening!