If you have a small plot of space in your backyard that you have been wanting to make a garden out of, what are you waiting for? Don’t think that just because the area is small that it cannot be used – it is possible to feed an entire household with the harvest from a 4×4-foot garden plot. No matter how small your garden plot is, there are ways to make the most of it.
Tips for Planting a Small Garden
When it comes to planting your small garden, you need to do some careful planning. Sure, you could just run to the garden supply store and pick out a few of your favorite herbs, but that may not be the best use of your garden space. If you take the time to think about it and do some basic planning, you may find that you can fit a lot more into your small garden plot than you thought you could. As you plan, keep some of these tips in mind:
- Choose plants that have a high yield and that keep producing throughout the summer – think plants like tomatoes, peppers, onions, eggplant, cucumber and summer squash
- Select some “cut-and-come-again” crops like lettuce – these crops allow you to harvest the outer leaves but will continue to produce from the center
- Avoid plants that require a large amount of space for a relatively low harvest – plants like melons and pumpkins have a wide spread but low yield
- Plant several plants side-by-side per row rather than planting single-plant rows – this method is good for all but vining plants like cucumber
- Consider building a raised bed to improve soil quality, thus increasing the number of plants you can keep – look into things like 4×4 gardening
- Try a method called interplanting – plant one slow-growing vegetable like carrots next to a fast-growing vegetable like radishes so you can harvest the fast-growing plant before it crowds the slower plant
- Grow vining plants on trellises rather than on the ground – plants like beans, cucumbers and squash can actually be grown vertically to save you valuable ground space
Consider a Raised Bed
If you only have a small garden plot to work with, one of the best things you can do is to turn it into a raised bed. Creating a raised bed is the best way to improve soil quality and moisture retention. It also has a number of other benefits, such as:
- Fewer weeds and pest (such as slugs and snails)
- Improved drainage, especially for areas with clay soil
- No soil compaction from your feet
- Warmer soil – extends growing season
- Less soil erosion, more stability for your garden
If you choose to construct a raised bed for your garden plot, make sure to follow the tips listed above to get the most out of your garden space. Divide your bed into sections and try to group like plants together for maximum efficiency. Devote one section to low-growing herbs, another to tall herbs and another to trellised plants.
Outdoor Container Gardening
Even if you have a garden plot to work with, the location or the soil quality may not lend itself well to creating an in-ground garden. If you want to have a garden but do not think that planting directly in the ground is a good idea, you can still create a container garden outdoors. Container gardening is a very versatile gardening method that can be adapted to most herbs and vegetables – in fact, it has many benefits over traditional gardening that may make you think twice about cultivating a traditional garden in the future. Some of the benefits of outdoor container gardening include:
- Plants are more easily accessible for care
- No large/heavy gardening tools required
- Plants are protected from wildlife like rabbits
- Disease is less likely to spread from one plant to another
- Plants (like herbs) can be moved indoors in winter for year-round production
- Portability and convenience, plants can be rearranged
The key to success with container gardening is to choose containers that are large enough to accommodate the soil volume your plants require. Most plants require at least 5 gallons of soil and a depth of at least 6 inches. One challenge of container planting is keeping the soil moist but not wet. Be sure to choose containers with adequate drainage and do not overwater. In fact, you might consider self-watering planters to make your job easier.
By now it should be clear to you that a little planning and creativity is all it takes to make the most of your small garden space. Even if your garden covers no more than a 10×10 area, or even a 4×4 area, you can still take advantage of that space to cultivate a thriving garden.