Grow a lot of food in a city vegetable garden or any compact space, whether it’s on a rooftop, terrace, balcony or in a small yard! Here is how to cram more into your vegetable garden without crowding your plants.
A small garden in a city or suburbs is your very own oasis! Even if you grow a few cherry tomatoes and lettuce, we think life is changed for the better.
Choose Quick-Growing Veggies
When your garden is small, it’s important to choose what to grow with care. Slow-growing or large vegetables like parsnip and Brussels sprouts are probably not worth it, but quick growers like lettuce, radish or beets and vegetables such as zucchini or chard that offer high yields or repeat harvests make perfect sense.
Herbs are high value, high flavour crops. Compact strawberries and space-saving trained fruits such as cordon or step-over forms of apple and pear are wise choices for small urban gardens.
Here’s how to grow 5 fast-growing vegetables.
Save Space With Blocks
Traditional long rows of vegetables waste space. Grow plants in blocks instead, with plants spaced equidistantly within narrow beds. This has multiple benefits: it will help to crowd out weeds; avoids the risk of compacting the soil by stepping on it; makes tending crops from paths easier; and concentrates resources where they are needed.
The Square Foot Gardening technique takes growing in blocks one step further. By using deep raised beds and a rich soil mix, crops can be grown at even tighter spacings.
Consider Using Containers
Containers make growing a garden possible even if there’s no soil to spare. They’re easily moved to make the most of sunlight or shelter.
Compact crops like salad leaves and annual herbs will do well in smaller containers, while vegetables with larger root systems such as tomatoes need bigger pots. Check that containers have adequate drainage; if not, add holes in the base. Stand containers on pot feet or rocks to help water drain freely. Plants in pots will need be be kept well watered and fed to do well.
Learn more about container gardening with vegetables.
Train vining or sprawling crops such as peas, beans, peas, cucumbers and squashes up and trellis and other supports.
Use wall-mounted planting pockets and tubes, fence-mounted pots and even hanging baskets for plants like strawberries and cherry tomatoes.
Boost Plants with Organic Fertilizers
When growing at tight spacings, care needs to be taken to feed plants well. Use organic fertilizers such as chicken manure pellets instead of artificial fertilizers, which increase the risk of a harmful build-up of salts in the soil. A compact worm bin or ‘wormery’ can be used instead of a compost bin. The hundreds of worms within it will transform kitchen scraps into rich, fertile worm compost and a nutritious liquid plant feed.
Plan for Succession
Start off plants so they’re ready to replace crops as soon they are harvested or spent to avoid wasting space. You don’t need much special equipment or space: a simple cold frame or sunny windowsill and plug trays will be sufficient to grow them on to the planting stage. Learn more about successive gardening.
For more tips and techniques on planning and growing our garden, check out the Almanac Garden Planner.