Small vegetable gardens provide families with the perfect way to grow and enjoy fresh produce. From selecting seeds or plants for planting to harvesting the harvest for cooking and eating – growing and tending a garden provides families with an invaluable learning experience that everyone will cherish.
Initial steps should include an assessment of your available space and sun exposure; next select a variety that has been specifically developed to be compact or dwarf in order to occupy as little room as possible.
Choose a Sun-Friendly Spot
Reading any gardening book or magazine article often starts off by encouraging readers to choose a sunny location for their vegetable patch. While this advice is sound, how can you know which part of your yard or garden would make the ideal setting?
Vegetables require fertile soil to flourish, but sunlight is equally essential. Too little light means your crops won’t flourish while too much sun could lead to stress for the veggies.
An effective way of finding an ideal location is through conducting a sun survey. Grab a calendar, pencil, and piece of paper and observe where the sun hits at 8 am, noon, and 4:00 p.m. where three circles overlap is where most sunlight hits.
Don’t despair if your location doesn’t lend itself to full sunlight; many vegetables can still thrive under partial shade conditions. Salad greens, kale, beets, carrots, turnips and Swiss chard all flourish under diffused lighting; while certain plants such as radishes can even thrive despite lack of direct light!
Beans, eggplants, squash and cucumbers also thrive under shade conditions, making this an excellent way to use mechanical equipment such as tillers to keep weeds under control and enjoy better harvest. If you have ample space available for cultivation of these plants in rows then do so; that way they are easier to harvest with mechanical tillers while helping with keeping weeds at bay.
If space is at a premium, consider planting vegetables in containers or raised beds instead of directly in the ground. Not only will this take up less room, but you can amend the soil with compost and other beneficial materials that could potentially enrich its quality.
When planting in the ground, select varieties designed specifically for small plants – such as “pixie” tomatoes, “tiny” zucchini or “compact” carrots. Not only will they fit more easily in your garden space; these special varieties may offer advantages over regular varieties as far as disease resistance and heat and cold tolerance are concerned. You could also utilize organic matter or shredded leaves as mulch in order to retain moisture at your site if trees are nearby.
Make a Plan
Your vegetables will thrive best in soil that drains well, provides essential nutrients and is easy to work. Before beginning planting, it is recommended that you have your soil tested to ascertain its composition; this way you’ll know if amendments such as compost, sand, humus or fertilizer need to be added for best results.
As most vegetables require full sunlight to thrive, choosing an improper location or having your garden fall under shaded conditions could make it impossible to cultivate many types of produce. While you might still get some leafy greens to thrive under cover, most other vegetables won’t fare so well.
Consider how much of each vegetable you actually eat; closely examine your grocery shopping habits to gain an idea of which and how many to plant. Gardeners often take this opportunity to reduce costs by growing more of what they enjoy eating themselves.
Step two of planning a veggie garden involves designing its layout. If you have enough space, the easiest approach would be to make rows of beds 18 inches apart so it will be easy for you to walk among the plants and eliminate weeds more effectively. For smaller yards or spaces with limited available area, raised bed vegetable gardening ideas might provide more flexibility – these beds can be constructed out of wood, brick or sleepers filled with the same soil used throughout your yard.
If you’re exploring raised vegetable beds, be sure to map out your plantings so you can keep track of when, what and how to plant and harvest each crop. This helps maximize your space while providing nutritious fruits and veggies every time!
Add color and combat pests while making your vegetables look attractive by scattering flowers around the edge of each bed. Not only will it add some brightness, but flowers like alyssum, marigolds and nasturtiums are popular options that could add some beauty.
Sow the Seeds
Vegetable seeds can either be directly planted into the garden or started in seed beds before being transplanted to their final growing position. Either way, Gro-Sure Seed and Cutting Compost is essential – its unique formula includes Vermiculite for air circulation and water retention, plus seaweed extract to stimulate healthy seed germination and ensure maximum contact between soil and seedlings.
Most vegetables are tender annuals that should be direct-sown outdoors in early spring when soil temperatures have reached 7degC (45degF). Aim for a space three times wider than each seed to make planting easier – digging a trench, or drilling, to sprinkle seeds across. Cover them with thin layer of soil before lightly firming down before watering gently after sowing and thin them out when in the ground so each plant has enough space to reach full maturity.
Your garden size determines which vegetables can be grown, so first make a list of those you would like to grow and consider the size and preferences of those living in your household as well as canning or freezing facilities available to you. Next create a scaled map of the garden so that you know how much space each crop requires; taller crops such as corn should not overshadow shorter crops such as potatoes. A map can also help with crop rotation planning since closely related vegetables often share similar insect or disease problems and should not be planted back-to-back years due to similar pest or disease problems between years.
If you’re using a seed bed, fill each container with Gro-Sure Seed and Cutting Compost, adding extra vermiculite as necessary for good drainage. Next follow the instructions on your seed packet to sow seeds at 10- to 14-day intervals to prevent glut/famine cycles.
Harvest the Vegetables
Growing vegetables for food or edible landscape purposes in a small garden can be extremely satisfying and fulfilling. A bit of planning can make your vegetable garden an invaluable experience; choosing suitable plants, planting them in their ideal soil conditions, and sowing a succession of crops every season ensure fresh homegrown produce all year long!
Start with a solid plan by sketching out your garden space on paper to help visualize how much room each type of vegetable requires, then determine how many of each kind to grow and their planting distance (excluding veggies like cucumbers that vine). For shaded plots, consider shade-tolerant vegetables like kale, rocket, sorrel, Asian lettuce as well as easy bumper crops like leafy greens, chilli plants or sweet peas straight from the pod for maximum success!
If space is an issue in your garden, consider growing vertical gardens instead. Utilize fences, trellises or walls to train plants up while freeing up ground space for low-growing edibles. Or if you have access to an indoor vertical garden system like hanging baskets – indoor vertical gardening will surely save the day!
Vegetables require rich, fertile soil. Ideally, amend the existing soil prior to planting your vegetables, but alternatively you could purchase pre-made raised beds and fill them with fertilized soil. When using raised beds make sure the frame is sturdy and stable enough to support any heavy vegetables you plan on growing.
When purchasing vegetable plants, make a point to visit your local farmers markets instead of large box stores. Farmers markets usually know exactly what varieties will thrive in your climate and offer customers high-performing plants at competitive prices.
As it may not be feasible to rotate crops, be extra vigilant in monitoring for fungal diseases and pests in your garden. If any issues arise, stop cultivating that particular vegetable until the issue has subsided and employ preventive measures to stop further outbreaks of the problem.