If you are a small-space and urban gardener, having limited garden space can be somewhat of a challenge. This is especially true if you are still new to gardening. One problem that you may encounter if you have limited garden space is that you may end up overcrowding the garden bed, which may further result in light issues.
Some crops may get overshadowed by others, causing poor growth and preventing their fruits from ripening well. Your little space may also limit the number of plants you can grow. In other words, you will see yourself being unable to grow vegetables and many more plants.
If you decide to go for vertical gardening, as it is said to help lessen the use of space, watering can also become a challenge. The reason is that water may not reach every plant evenly or it may run off easily. You may need to use a self-watering container or set up a drip irrigation system, which can add to the amount you may have to spend at first.
Despite these challenges, you can still rest assured that gardening is possible even with your little growing space. If your goal is to create a vegetable garden even with your small space, you can choose plants or go for compact crops and high-yielding varieties capable of thriving in small vegetable gardens.
You will get to know more about these vegetable plants in the next sections of this article and a couple of the best small vegetable garden ideas.
Benefits of Growing Vegetables in Small Gardens
Undoubtedly, spacious and large gardens set up outdoors can give you larger and more bountiful harvests. However, you should keep in mind that you don’t need to have a gigantic garden bed just so you can grow healthy veggies productively.
No matter how small or limited your space is, you can still enjoy bountiful harvests by choosing to grow the right plants. Small harvests can also give you healthy crops and abundant produce, provided you use the right containers, grow the best vegetables in the correct soil, and give them sufficient amounts of water and sunlight.
Meeting all these requirements is enough to help you yield delicious and tasty veggies despite the small footprint. Aside from that, you can enjoy the following health and environmental benefits from growing vegetable plants at home and implementing the best small vegetable garden ideas.
Easy access to healthy produce
Your thriving and productive vegetable garden will let you access nutrient-rich and healthy produce easily and quickly. With that, you will surely get the chance to access healthy veggies that can improve your health.
Your regular intake of veggies straight from your small vegetable garden can even help you lower your risk of chronic ailments, such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Calming and therapeutic
Another thing that makes vegetable gardening so good for your health is that it is very therapeutic and calming. It can, therefore, help lower your anxiety and stress. You can use this activity to spend more time in nature, which helps reduce your cortisol (stress hormone) level.
It can also lift your mood, especially if you think about the sense of genuine satisfaction and accomplishment you get as you cultivate your own food and produce.
Gardening also serves as an effective exercise for anyone aiming to improve their endurance, flexibility, and strength while burning calories. Doing this activity for thirty to forty-five minutes is even enough to help you burn around 150 to 300 calories.
Good for the environment
Cultivating a small vegetable garden at home also offers several environmental benefits. Note that if you buy your produce and have it shipped from a place far away, the transportation can cause you to contribute to gas emissions. If you have a vegetable garden, you can lower your carbon footprint as healthy foods will be within easy reach.
The many vegetable plants you grow in your small vegetable garden also promote biodiversity. They can offer suitable habitats for beneficial insects, like butterflies and bees. With that, your garden will also help maintain a healthy ecosystem while supporting local diversity.
Your vegetable garden will also ensure that you will get to lessen your food waste. The reason is that you can commit to harvesting only the produce you need. It is also possible for you to compost garden wastes or vegetable scraps, thereby ensuring that you won’t be contributing to the large number of organic wastes going to landfills.
Top Vegetables for Small Gardens
Now that you are already aware of how beneficial it is to cultivate your vegetable garden, it is time to learn about the best vegetable plants that can grow in small gardens. Among the best veggies for this purpose are the following:
Several leafy greens tend to thrive well in smaller gardens. In this case, you can grow the following leafy greens as they are known to have compact sizes while boasting of their rapid growth rate. This means they will not take up too much space and you can rest assured that it will not take long for them to give you your desired abundant yield.
- Lettuce – Lettuce has plenty of fast-growing varieties, including butterhead, oakleaf, and looseleaf lettuce. Expect them to be ready for harvest within just forty-five to fifty-five days.
- Kale – Kale is another leafy green that thrives productively and bountifully in small gardens. It has a compact size plus you can harvest and enjoy its beautiful and crisp salad leaves within just twenty-five days. It is a frost-hardy vegetable, which means it grows well when the weather is cool.
- Spinach – You will also enjoy growing vegetables, especially the cold-hardy spinach in your small vegetable garden. It is even possible to plant its seeds directly in your garden. Enjoy harvesting its crops within just four to six weeks.
- Swiss chard – Also called rainbow chard, you can expect the Swiss chard to add beauty to your garden. It takes around fifty to sixty-five days for Swiss chard to mature. However, you are allowed to pick off some outside leaves when needed. Both the stalks and a few leaves of chard are edible, too.
Aside from being compact and fast-growing, you will also enjoy the fact that most leafy greens, including the examples mentioned, belong to the cut-and-come-again varieties. Being a cut-and-come-again plant is a good thing as it means you will enjoy continuous harvests.
You can rest assured that they will continue to give you healthy and productive crops. This is possible as they can sprout new leaves every time you snip off their outer leaves.
Tomatoes and Dwarf Fruit Trees
You can also grow dwarf fruit trees and bush varieties that are suitable for small spaces and containers. Dwarf fruit and vegetable varieties are actually among the best trees that can thrive well in small gardens. You can plant them directly into ornamental garden beds or intermingle them with roses if you are into companion planting.
Your choices for the bush and dwarf varieties are also somewhat limitless, including tomatoes, grapes, pears, apricots, and apples. Fortunately, you can find dwarf varieties for almost every fruit tree that you can access, which means that there is no need for you to miss out on them no matter how small your plot is.
Tomato plants, specifically, tend to work a lot better if you are planning to cultivate a small vegetable garden. The reason is that they are capable of growing vertically (vertical growth) with the help of a wire frame or wooden stake. You can use such items as your trellis or cage so the tomatoes can grow well while not consuming too much space.
The use of a trellis or cage is essential for plants with vertical growth as it will let you maximize space no matter how tiny. The items can help you use vertical surfaces to ensure that even different crops will grow up. The trellis or cage is also specifically beneficial if you are in search of ways to integrate vegetable plants into your courtyard garden.
If you intend to grow tomatoes, start their seeds indoors around six weeks before the predicted last frost. You should then plant the seeds outside during the spring, the time when the weather is already warming up.
Since you only have a tiny space, it helps to plant only those small and compact tomato varieties. A couple of options would be the yellow pear tomatoes and the sweet million cherry tomatoes.
Peppers are also among the crops that are most suitable for small spaces, making them perfect even for those who wish to try container gardening. You can grow hot pepper, which is one of those compact plants that can give you heavy and abundant produce.
The fact that it is a heavy producer means that you will get to enjoy a constant supply of hot pepper that you can harvest anytime it is ripe. You can also grow the following varieties as they are perfect for small spaces and containers:
- Basket of fire, which is capable of growing around twelve inches tall – It can also reach a max of two feet across while possessing several spicy red fruits.
- Pot-a-Peño, which is a jalapeño variety capable of growing in cascades – The fact that it has cascading growth means that you can grow and cultivate it with ease in hanging baskets.
- Confetti, which is a delicious and beautiful mini-variety of bell pepper – You will immediately notice its variegated fruits and foliage. You are allowed to harvest it red or green.
All these pepper varieties will grow productively if you plant them in containers. Most pepper plants have bushy and upright growth habits, which is the reason behind their suitability for container gardening. Just make sure to pick a large container, which provides enough space for peppers to develop roots.
Ensure that there are sufficient holes in the container, too, to support proper drainage. Most of them, except the dwarf varieties, usually require a container or pot with a minimum size of around five gallons. In most cases, varieties with larger fruits also require larger pots.
You can maximize the yield of peppers and ensure that they continue to grow productively if you choose compact varieties. You also have to provide the plants with proper support. Most peppers, except those that belong to the dwarf variety, need to be caged or staked as this will be their means of support.
By caging or staking them, there is a low chance for weak and brittle branches to break. It also helps prevent your pepper plants from toppling over, especially once the fruit matures and adds some weight to the plant.
Several root vegetables are also compatible with small vegetable gardens or gardens with limited spaces. It would be ideal to grow round or small varieties of these veggies if you only have a little space to dedicate to them. The reason is that these plants only need minimal space for growth.
You can make the most of your tiny space by picking these vegetable plants vertically. You can do that by giving them a fence, trellis, netting, or anything that their tendrils can hold or grab on as they grow. By letting them grow vertically, you can save space while creating a sort of visual interest and edible landscaping and structure in your small vegetable garden.
You can also make the veggies grow in raised beds. This is a perfect choice if the foundation where you build and cultivate the plants is level. What’s even impressive about raised beds is that they promote ease of access to plants, improved drainage, and more rapid warming of your garden soil once the spring season comes.
To let you grow highly productive and impressive root veggies in your tiny space, here are some options that work for any small vegetable garden:
Radish is a compact plant, which means it does not need a lot of space to grow. It also rapidly grows, making it ready for harvest within just four weeks. With that said, you can plant your radishes in between other plants.
Radish also thrives when grown and cultivated in a container garden. Some highly recommend growing white icicle or purple plum radish seeds as they look different and unique, making them serve as good ornamental plants, too.
Carrots will not also consume too much space in your limited garden. One thing to note about carrots, though, aside from being able to grow in a small garden, is that their seedlings are not that capable of transplanting well. This makes it more beneficial to plant the seeds directly in your small vegetable garden. Ensure that the soil has no rocks or lumps, too, as those may only cause a split or crooked growth in carrots.
You can also add life to your somewhat limited or small garden space by planting beets or beetroots. What’s so impressive about these easy-to-grow veggies is that both their leaves and roots are edible.
The seeds of beetroots also consist of a group of around 4 to 5 separate seeds. With that, you can plant one seed in a pot and enjoy a yield of several plants. It would be best to find smaller baby beets that you can easily grow in containers and pots and ensure that they receive full sun.
Dwarf or Bush Varieties of Beans, Peas, and Cucumbers
You can also make your small garden flourish and become even more productive by adding dwarf or bush varieties of beans, peas, and cucumbers into it. Bush beans, specifically are very easy to grow. You can grow them in a pot or container that is around 16 inches in size or more.
Bush beans, pole beans, and other dwarf varieties, also require full sun and proper drainage. Remember that they are frost-sensitive, too, so you can provide them with the right environment for growth. Plant them once the frost passes.
As you grow these beans, you can save space and give them proper support by tying three sticks together and making a tripod. This should help in saving space while supporting increased yield.
You can also mix ornamental plants and vegetables together in your small vegetable garden to save more space without losing your plants’ productivity. For instance, you can form an edible plant edge and position it in front of your flower border. You can do that with the help of curly parsley and loose-leaf lettuce.
It is also possible to tuck broccoli seedlings, tomatoes, and peppers in between perennial plants. As an alternative, you can grow the cucumbers and pole beans on an arbor or trellis. Since cucumbers and pole beans fall under vining vegetables, you also have to provide them with a fence, netting, or trellis so their tendrils can hold onto them once they start growing.
You also have the option of growing runner beans in large containers and putting them out the door. Use an improvised wigwam frame that the beans can use for proper growth. This should be enough to give you sufficient beans for several meals.
Small Vegetable Garden Ideas and Tips to Maximize Space and Yield
Vertical Gardening Techniques
Of course, the ultimate solution when planning to grow vegetables in small spaces or gardens is to grow your plants vertically. Vertical gardening is indeed one of the most creative ways to deal with challenges linked to space.
The reason is that vining vegetables, like squash, interminate tomatoes, and cucumbers consume less space if you grow them vertically with the help of trellises, fences, obelisks, stakes, or any other related structure. This also gives the plants sufficient space and boosts air circulation.
The fact that your plants are off the ground through vertical gardening also means that they will not be vulnerable to disease and insect issues. You just have to make sure that they are planted on easily accessible structures. To help you with vertical gardening, here are some tips and effective small vegetable garden ideas that can guide you:
- Use wire, lattice, or twine to cover walls or fences – Ensure that the items are ideal for use on peas, espaliered fruits, and beans. It also helps to train vines to grow up on pergolas.
- Attach containers or pots to your wall – This should contribute a lot to saving space. You may also use any of those available commercial living wall systems you can use for plants.
- Research a system, which fits your location specifically – Take time to experiment with crops that work perfectly in there. Generally, it would be best if you go for some of your most dependable options, like running herbs capable of regenerating even after you cut them back. You may also grow edible flowers, salad leaves, and strawberries.
- Paint the wall white – This is a good idea if a wall in your garden is located in an area that is shady. The white paint can reflect the light to a climber, thereby giving the illusion of a big garden even if it is small.
Another of the most useful small vegetable garden ideas is to practice succession planting. Practicing this gardening technique will be of help in boosting production. Succession planting involves following every crop with another one.
For instance, once you harvest spring vegetables, you can use compost to amend your garden soil and then start seeding summer crops, such as bush cucumbers, zucchini, or bush beans. With the help of succession planting, you can continue making your small garden space productive the entire growing season.
Just plant a series of vegetables to grow in succession, regardless if it is in a container or garden bed. You can begin with early-maturing and cool-season crops during the spring season, then follow them up with late-summer and mid-season vegetables capable of lasting up to the fall.
What succession planting aims to achieve is to lower the risk of making any valuable and useful garden space idle. In other words, you should be prepared to plant a new crop each time a space opens up.
You can also use this technique if you want to have the growing season of one crop extended, especially those edibles that mature fast, like beans and radishes. If you plant them at an interval of 2 to 3 weeks, expect them to become mature at various times, thereby promoting continuous harvest.
Interplanting and Companion Planting
You can also give interplanting and companion planting techniques a try. These small vegetable garden ideas can help improve the overall health of your garden and maximize your space by planting together complementary vegetables or those that benefit each other.
The concept of interplanting is actually quite the same as succession planting. The only difference is that you can maximize yield if you pair up various crops known for being incredible companions and then let them grow at various rates.
For instance, you have the option of planting sugar snap peas during the early spring, then cultivating pole beans together with them. Once you have already fully harvested the peas, expect beans to be the ones that will give you produce.
Companion planting is proven effective in increasing yield, especially if you decide to grow crops in raised beds or garden. The companion plants will work together so they can build beneficial relationships that are good for their health and growth.
Some companion plants can help in deterring pests in the garden. The others can also improve soil nutrients. Vegetables, specifically, can provide better flavors, yield, and ability to resist diseases and pests if you site them close to their best neighbors or companion plants.
Container and Raised Bed Gardening
Container gardening and raised bed gardening are also two of the best small vegetable garden ideas techniques that you can apply if you only have a limited space. Gardening in containers is all about planting vegetables in pots, containers, hanging baskets, buckets, window boxes, or any other suitable container.
This is an incredible technique if your space is only small or limited. It helps even balcony gardeners or growers to cultivate their gardens and grow their desired vegetables. Just make sure to stick to these key rules applicable to gardening in pots or containers.
- Choose pots or containers with sufficient or proper drainage holes.
- Use the right size of pot or container – As much as possible, choose bigger pots as they are capable of holding more soil. The result is a reduced possibility of the soil drying out.
- Use potting mix – Use this in place of garden soil. The reason is that potting mixes are known to be lightweight while being capable of draining well.
Raised bed gardening is also beneficial for gardeners who have limited space. Through raised beds, you have full and intensive control of the plants and soil mix. In other words, you get to fit more vegetables no matter how small your space is.
In addition, raised garden beds can give excellent drainage capabilities. There is also a high chance for them to warm up early during the spring season while also being easy to tend. As much as possible, use materials that resist rot, such as hemlock, cedar, and corten steel. You should then fill the raised beds with high-quality compost and garden soil.
Key Takeaways in Cultivating a Small Garden
If you love gardening but feel discouraged because you don’t have a lot of space, don’t worry! You might be surprised to learn that even a tiny garden can give you plenty of delicious and healthy produce.
All you need to do is choose the right veggies and use the right gardening techniques. Once you’ve got even a small garden going, you’ll be able to enjoy fresh, nutritious fruits and veggies right outside your door. And not only that, but a small garden can also add some style and beauty to your home, especially if you add some pretty ornamental plants.
If you’ve never tried gardening in a limited space before, now’s the perfect time to give it a go. It’s such a fun and rewarding hobby, and you’ll be amazed at how much you can grow with just a little bit of effort. Plus, growing your own produce is a great way to save some money on groceries and stay healthy at the same time.
So go ahead and try small space gardening for yourself – I promise you won’t regret it!