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Organic Gardening

Get dirty, have fun and grow more food with great gardening tips from real-life gardeners.

Choosing What to Grow in a Small Yard

When you have a small yard, pots are a great way Swiss chardto extend your garden and harvest. You read that you can grow anything in pots. And you can. So, how do you decide what is best to plant in the ground and what is best for your pots?

Deciding what to grow can be exhilarating and overwhelming. The varieties are endless, the options infinite. Where do you begin when you are deciding what to grow for the first time or for the tenth time?

First, grow what you love to eat! Make a list of your favorite veggies. The caution for a new gardener, start small. From your list of favs, pick your top 5-7 to start with.

So, if I were to share the easiest to get started with, what would I grow my first spring season? I would start with plants and grow lettuce, spinach, kale, cabbage, collards, mustard greens, Swiss chard. If I loved beets, carrots, radishes, peas and turnips, I would plant these as seeds. If I liked to cook with onions and use chives, I would get Egyptian walking onions because they are perennials and can be harvested year round and love their home in a pot.

If you are just starting out and have limited space, look for descriptions like “patio”, “compact”, “great for pots”, “container”, etc. Here are some recommendations for your garden.

You can add in warm season crops like tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini, and peppers as the cool season crops wrap up the spring season.  Just look for "compact", "patio" and "bush" varieties.

I noticed that W. Atlee Burpee & Co. seed company started showing a clay pot with a check mark on the lower right hand corner of their seed packets this year to indicate which seeds were appropriate for pots. This makes it much easier to know than reading all the descriptions! 

A couple of tips for extending the season as long as possible:

It is wonderful to be able to just step outside your door and get fresh produce all through the seasons.

For more tips on gardening in small spaces, visit my blog at