Ideas for a Small Vegetable GardenAn overview of square foot gardening and container vegetable gardening
Just because you have a small yard or live in an apartment building with a balcony or roof top terrace doesn't mean you can't grow your own vegetables. There are a number of ideas for small space vegetable gardens that could turn you into a farmer. Square foot gardening and container vegetable gardening are among the most successful methods for growing veggies in a limited amount of space.
Square foot gardening will produce the same crop as a row garden using one fifth of the space. Photo used under Creative Commons from Flickr user homard.net.
The Square-Foot Gardening Method
Square foot gardening, first proposed by author Mel Bartholomew, can yield the same crop as a row garden but in a fifth of the space. In addition to being well suited for small yards, square foot gardening also requires less weeding, watering and thinning than a traditional vegetable garden. Four foot by four foot raised beds divided into sixteen square foot cells are used to grow a year's worth of vegetables for one person. This layout makes it easy to access each plant without wasting space. Vertical supports such as trellises or tomato cages can also be used with square foot gardens.
Popular dimensions for a square foot garden:
- 4' by 4'
- 3' by 3'
- 4' by 8'
- 2' by 8'
Bartholomew recommends a compost rich soil and hand watering for best results. However, many square foot gardeners use drip irrigation for the sake of convenience. To find out his exact soil specifications, visit The Square Foot Gardening Foundation website.
This photos shows vegetables being grown in a metal stock tank. Bamboo is being used as vertical support. Grace Design Associates in Santa Barbara, CA.
Container Vegetable Gardening
Growing vegetables and herbs in containers is a great option for people with limited space. Nearly any variety of vegetable can be grown in a pot as long as it is the right size, has good drainage and receives direct sunlight. Additionally, vegetable gardening in containers can help overcome soil-borne diseases and poor soil conditions.
When selecting a container for growing vegetables the size of the container must be appropriate for the crop that will be grown. Herbs and vegetables with shallow roots, such as onions and radishes, can be grown in small containers, while vegetables with deep roots such as tomatoes will need a large container. A garden designer will be able to help you select pots that are suited for the crops you plan to grow.
Vegetable containers must also have good drainage. Select planters with holes in the bottom or have holes drilled to allow water to escape. If the containers will be placed on concrete or another impervious surface they should be slightly elevated to allow the water to drain.
For a complete look at container vegetable gardening read Vegetable Gardening in Containers (PDF), a short publication from Texas A&M.