Cram More Into Your City Vegetable Garden!



Photo by Getty Images/funky-data

Make the most of your space by choosing quick growers like lettuce, radishes or beets instead, vegetables that offer high yields or repeat harvests such as zucchini or chard, or high-value herbs.

Space-saving forms of fruits such as cordon or step-over forms of apple and pear, cane fruits such as raspberry and, of course, compact strawberries are all wise choices for small gardens.

Efficient Plant Spacing

Grow plants in beds narrow enough to reach into the center from each side. This makes it easier to grow in blocks, with plants spaced equidistantly. As well as making best use of the space, growing plants like this crowds out weeds, helps to concentrate resources where they’re needed, avoids the risk of compacting the soil by stepping on it, and makes tending your crops easier.

The Square Foot Gardening takes intensive growing one step further using deep raised beds and a special soil mix designed for optimal root growth.

Use Containers 

Containers are easily moved to make the most of sunny areas or to protect plants from harsh weather. They can be used on any surface.

Check that containers have adequate drainage, and stand containers on pot feet or blocks to further improve drainage and airflow for healthier plants. Pay attention to keeping plants in pots well watered and fed.

4/28/2019 2:32:23 PM

  Fellow Gardenauts !!! I've gone almost exclusively to containerized gardening and I've got 3 acres, most of which gets great sun exposure. We get full sun May (when there is sun  . . .), June and July from about 9:30 to 6:30. I've got deck space on the house and pool deck where I generally use the banisters. I get those "self-watering" boxes like those shown above. (Plastic troughs about 8" -10" wide and of varying lengths, maybe two to f our feet.) I put about 8-9 cucumber seeds per 3 foot-ish long box, zig-zaged. I used to put 12 or so but that was too dense. I had rigged up poles on the boxes and a netting going away from the sun for the cukes to grew/rest on but the occasional strong winds used to send the whole deal flying. Even the troughs will get blown off the railings so I occasionally strap those down.  The yields are huge ! Even compared to netted in-ground planting and they are really easy to care for. WATER ! WATER ! WATER ! Those cukes are thirsty !  Especially when the leaves are big (transpiration + evaporation). I usually stagger planting by 2-3 weeks for each bin since cucumber plants seem to get "old". This way fruit production is stretched out all season instead of to mid-August. Here in mid-latitude NH we have a growing season from June (we can get snow in May, and/or a LOT of dank rain) deep into September, lately . . .     I am going to fertilize more frequently this year, maybe every two weeks . . .     When I used to ground plant I would cut the bottoms out of pots (those thin, black pots that big plants come in) and bury them in the ground with about 2" of rim above the surface. This way watering is more measurable, and the roots could seek out water as well. We have water coming out of the ground in July where I live most years so water conservation is not the issue it is in most of the country. All the excess water goes to the well, anyway, but using less electricity for the pump is always helpful. Also, you don't get the leaves wet.    For tomatoes I use hanging bags made for that purpose. Cloth shopping bags didn't work.  Some people use big plastic pails. In a wheel barrow I mix or remix organic soil with vermiculite and perlite, organic fertilizer, lime, bone meal, wood ash, and bacteria prep and such. Fill the bag only about 1/4 full, tip it on its side to feed the 9" to a foot long or so seedlings through the bottom so that most of the stem is in the container (more root area). Pull the lower leaves off leaving three to 5 inches or more of plant sticking out so the sun reaches them. In a few days phototropism does its thing and the leaves flip around 180 degrees. (If you can time it so that you put the plants out during a few day cloudy spell (or hang them off a ladder or somewhere in the shade) then you don't have to worry about burning the underside of the leaf. A sponge works well to replace the original sponge things that came with the hanging bags that wraps around the stems and closes up the hole so the soil doesn't pour out. I also dust some Great White on the roots. I then fill the bag only 1/2 full with the wet soil so it is easier to carry to my hanging area 100+ feet away (an upside down "A" frame about 8' high attached to the pool deck). I then fill them up with the rest of the soil. I can get about 5 hanging bags on each of the 10' 2x4's that are across the "feet" of the "A", 2 at the very ends of each and 3 in the middle. The hanging "S" hooks are on rope loops (2 individual loops each) so I can move them along the 2x4 as preferred.  I put two tomato plants in the hole of the bottom of the bags. Three are too many, one might be fine. (The roots of seedlings sprouted and raised together don't compete as those not raised together do.  (I saw this on a science show once but haven't seen anything else on it. They actually showed time-lapsed film of the roots "cooperating"/growing together.) For the side holes in the "strawberry" bags I might put several plants (4 . . .) on the sun sides of the bags at different levels. Tomatoes don't need as much watering as cukes (may wash out the flavor) but I check most mornings (before biking an hour into work) and water every evening depending upon rain. The yields are high enough to be stir fried, frozen and used regularly until spring.      I do big "self-watering" pots and planters on the sunroom deck which do really well. I tend to put the larger varieties of tomatoes in them. I may experiment with filled, over-turned one and two liter bottles stuck into the soil of the pots on the long work days.     Basil does great in containers but we have had better success with already sprouted/grown plants vs seeds. I got 5 foot high dill from a small pot a couple years back. (A lot of my herbs don't survive because "someone" blasts them out of the pots with the hose ! &^*% !!!)     We got a blight about 10 years ago so it is here to stay.  I've been battling the blight with The Original BioWar "buggie" powder teas I make up. One soil drench, one foliar spray, both in big orange buckets (you know . . .) heating in the sun on my driveway, bubbling away. I got little aquarium pumps to aerate them but never used them. Every few days I take a few big cupfuls out and pour them back in from a good height to bubble them out. I get good results if I am conscientious about spraying. My mail gal just now delivered my gallon of organic, unsulfured molasses (from "I Was Thinking") for teas, and home made granola and yogurt, hardy and rich with a kick tasted alone which may be off-putting for some. (24 bucks from Amazon. Golden Barrel and Grandma's come in gallons as well for $20+, not organic, though . . .) I am awaiting some EM 1 (Essential Microbes 1) that I just learned about and will make some tea out of that. (And this tea some people drink !  Many uses.) I'm looking forward to concocting more microbial brews to see what happens. Humic acid will likely help as well. There are a lot of nutrients in soils that don't get used due to not enough or a lack of buggies and mycorrhizae to make them utilizable. I found some organic (natural ?) fertilizer with buggies in it for my lawn last year (Lawn Restore II) and the results were great. (There are liquid, hose on, buggie preps also to look into.) I'm awaiting to see what my rough, fill, back yard looks like after last year's inoculation, and this winter's inoculations by the 20+ deer munching around and the up to 70 turkeys daily.  I use Milky Spore for the Japanese Beetles.     Get the book  Teaming with Microbes by Lowenfells and Lewis and you will never use chemical fertilizers on your plants or lawns again. I got copies for two junior high science teachers I know. In a few chapters you will understand the microbiome of healthy systems, and get a good idea into your own microbiome, as well as how deeply our misuse of technology is destroying exactly that which keeps us alive.       Now if only the sun will come out . . .     FotN

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