We’re always looking for ways to grow more food in our small garden, and over the years, we’ve adopted nine techniques for maximizing our growing space. And these techniques will be the nine tips on small space gardening. 

The first tip is to grow in garden beds instead of rows. Growing in beds maximizes the amount of growing space relative to walking distance; for example, a 4 x 8 potato bed has 32 square feet of growing space. But if in single rows with walking areas in between, we’d only have about 16 square feet. You can achieve additional space savings with keyhole beds, which allow access to all crops, but only have a small inlet or keyhole in the middle, thereby significantly increasing growing space relative to the walking area. 

The second tip is to optimize the spacing between beds and plants. We decided to make the center path in our garden only 25 inches wide, which frees up a lot of growing space but is still wide enough to carry buckets of compost, mulch, and compost tea around the garden. Of course, if you want to use a wheelbarrow, you’ll have to make your path wider. The paths between the beds on either side of the garden are only 18 inches wide. We find this width to be just right. We can still comfortably navigate between the beds, but any narrower would be awkward when planting. We like to grow crops as close as we can without hindering their growth. For example, cherry tomatoes each occupy a square foot of space, and we prune the suckers to keep them from getting too crowded.

Tip number 3 is to grow vertically. The third tip may be the best space-saving tip of all. If you’ve ever seen a squash or pumpkin plant sprawled out on the ground, you’ll know how much space can be saved by growing vertically. We produce various crops, including tomatoes, peas, pole beans, winter squash, pumpkins, and Malabar spinach. Growing these vining crops vertically frees up a lot of room for other crops. In the future, we hope to raise some non-vining crops vertically and use other vertical growing systems. 

The fourth tip is succession planting, which is a great way to keep a bed continually producing. One example of succession planting is potato bed. As the potato plants start to die back and the potato harvest draws near, we’re already planning what will take their place. After the harvest, we’ll plant carrots, rutabagas beets, kale collards, and swiss chard for a late summer and fall harvest; it’s essential to consider crop rotation and not follow one crop with another related crop.

Tip number 5 is interplanting. A recent example of interplanting was when I planted sunchokes and radishes in the same bed this spring. Even though I had already fully planted the bed with sunchokes, I also planted radishes hoping they’d mature quickly and be ready to harvest before being wholly shaded out by the sunchokes. The plan worked well, and the radishes were ready to harvest just as the sunchokes started to take off. 

Tip number 6 is to grow in the shade or at least partial shade. Even if you already have a garden in full sun, you may be able to grow even more by planting leafy greens, herbs, rhubarb, paw, paw, trees, mushrooms, and more in partially shaded areas of your yard.

Tip number 7 is to grow food in the front yard. It’s a shame to let all that space go to waste. Even if local ordinances forbid front yard vegetable gardens, you can still usually sneak in some attractive. Edible plants as part of your landscape 

Tip number 8 is to grow microgreens. One of the great things about many leafy greens is that you can plant them much closer together than the recommended spacing on the seed package. As they develop, you can cut and harvest microgreens again, which gives you a much earlier harvest and a potentially more bountiful one. 

Last but not least, tip number 9 is to grow in pots and containers. The great thing about pots and containers is that they allow you to grow where you otherwise could not. So you can have a garden on your patio deck or, in our case, our front steps where we grow peppers and eggplants.

So there you have it, nine(9) easy steps to produce food using a small garden.

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