Gardening in Small Spaces

Recently I began blogging for Grit magazine which is a very exciting opportunity for me. If you are interested feel free to explore my Grit blog at the following link

Obviously there are a number of benefits associated with blogging for an established periodical like Grit. One obstacle I have encountered early on though is attempting to convey my thoughts within a structured word count. Grit does allow some flexibility but they do prefer pieces to be within a certain range and on occasion it can be a little difficult to cover all the necessary or desired ground. I do realize that in the end it will make me a better writer/blogger but when the need arises I will resort back to Seed To Harvest in an effort to expand upon some of those ideas.

Recently I wrote a piece entitled, "Tips for Small Property Gardening". I wrote it specifically in response to a few readers who had wanted an article more tutorial in structure. I wanted to take a moment and expand a bit on that concept.

Our family, as many of you know, produces a substantial amount of food on 1/16th of an acre. Though the property space is limited in a sense not only by its structural size it is also affected by the fact that I still want to leave plenty of room for my children to stretch their legs in the yard, which is really the main reason we bought a house to begin with.

At a certain point it is no longer practical to continue to dig new garden space throughout the lawn. At this point, in my opinion, it is up to the gardener to become creative with the particular space that they are dealing with.

One trick that we use is to grow vertical. We use a lot of homemade trellises in our garden. We take a walk in the woods and grab old oak and maple branches and tie them together with a bit of hemp and grow any number of items vertical. Think outside of the box when doing this. Pole beans and peas obviously benefit from vertical growth but what about your pumpkins and winter squash? Winter squash are one of my favorite garden items both visually and on the plate but as you all know they take up a ton of room with their sprawling searching limbs. Go vertical and very little space is lost and I believe it cuts down on losing some items to rot and mold.

We also like to companion plant. We put radishes in with our carrots, chamomile in with our peas and basil in with our tomatoes. By combining plants with different growing habits such as putting a low growing plant like golden purslane near the border of your sunflowers it creates far more yield for the gardener working withing the confines of a small space.

Another suggestion is using every nook and cranny of your yard. For example we are planting strawberries under our lilac trees this year. We already have strawberries growing by our apple tree. If I see a naked patch of ground close to the house I will toss in a bush bean seed or a nasturtium plant. Lettuce will do just fine in a little shady corner. Try to use any overlooked space.

We have grown potatoes in cardboard boxes in the past. We place the box on a piece of concrete by the driveway that would normally be useless and fill the box with earth. When the season ends you have potatoes and a nearly composted card box. This same space has been used for self watering pots as well. We have grown everything from eggplants to garlic chives in these pots.

The point is if one really embraces their space and begins to look outside the box they can utilize their property to its fullest potential.

Tobias Whitaker blogs for Mother Earth News and Grit Magazine. Click on the Mother Earth News logo at the bottom of the page for all of his post. You can also find him on Facebook at Seed To Harvest: Bossy Hen Homestead which is a central location for his homesteading blogs and his homeschooling blog, A Mile In Her Shoes: Tales Of A Stay-At Home Dad found here  


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