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  • Writer's pictureKassi Kuppinger

Small Space Gardening: Tips & How to Start

Do you love gardening, but find yourself limited by the space that is available to you? Sadly, many of us find ourselves in this situation. Whether you live in an apartment that has no space to grow a garden or live in a home with little to no yard, we are here to help you get creative with your space! While you may not be able to maintain as large of a garden as you want, small space gardening can still be just as fun and productive.

Different Ways to Garden in Small Spaces

1. Raised Garden Beds

Different Ways to Garden in Small Spaces

While many of you may not even have room for this type of gardening, raised garden beds can be a great way to grow a container garden of any size! If you are blessed with abundant space, you can even build multiple raised garden beds and grow a plethora of fruits and veggies. This type of gardening is often easier to manage as pests and unwanted rodents have a harder time accessing your tender plants. It is also easier to water and fertilize, requires less weeding, does not limit the types of plants you can grow, and gives you flexibility as to where you want your garden beds located.

2. Container Gardening

Container Gardening

Container gardening is possibly the most common type of gardening for limited space. While container gardening can limit the variety of plants you are able to grow, it is highly conducive to small spaces and gives you tons of flexibility in terms of where your plants are located. Container gardens generally do not require as much maintenance and are also much more accessible in terms of watering, fertilization, and harvesting.

3. Hanging Gardens

Hanging gardens are a lot of fun. While this is a very limited form of gardening, it is also one of the most flexible. As long as you have something to hang your baskets from, you can satisfy your gardening urge by growing a number of smaller crops. And similar to container gardening, hanging gardens require limited maintenance due to a decreased risk for weeds, pests, and the like. Not to mention they make for lovely decorations to liven up your front porch or back patio!

4. Vertical Gardens

Vertical Gardens

Very similar to hanging gardens, vertical gardens are best for small crops with shallow root systems. If you have very limited patio space, a vertical garden can make for a fun DIY project that will yield fresh herbs and greens all season long! Such gardens are extremely low maintenance, requiring little to no weeding, being much less susceptible to pests, and not requiring much upkeep from year to year. This is a great option for nearly anyone and can be completely customized according to the space that you have available.

5. Window Boxes

While window boxes are usually reserved for annual flowers of a more decorative type, who’s to say that you can’t use that space to grow some of your favorite vegetables and herbs? While you are limited in what will grow successfully in a window box, there are still tons of options available that are sure to quench your thirst for gardening and provide you with some fresh produce to use in the kitchen.

6. Windowsill Gardening

Windowsill Gardening

If all else is lost, windowsill gardening is always an option! While fruits or vegetables may not grow as well indoors, there are plenty of garden plants that can grow just fine indoors either in the natural light of a window or under a grow light. One major benefit of windowsill gardening is that you are not necessarily limited by the seasons! If you make sure the conditions are right, you can provide yourself with fresh herbs and other small greens year-round!

Factors To Consider in Small Space Gardening

1. Sun Exposure

When gardening in small spaces, regardless of which method you choose, sun exposure will be the most important factor in growing a garden successfully. Most garden fruits, vegetables, and herbs require at least 8 hours of sunlight in order to grow strong and healthy. If your plants do not have the energy and nutrients they need to grow into mature plants, they will never be able to produce a harvest.

2. Types of Plants

Types of Plants

Some plants require a lot of space to grow. For example, many types of tomato plants require lots of space for their roots to grow deep and wide. For starting out as such small plants, you would be shocked at the amount of space some tomato plants need to grow successfully. Similarly, some root vegetables may be difficult to grow in containers if they are not given adequate space. For many different types of garden plants there are container-compatible varieties, so just be sure you know what you are planting before you plant it!

3. Mature Size of Plants

Some plants may start off little and may look manageable for small space gardening, however, the size of the mature plant could completely take over a space or not be conducive for a small garden, resulting in an unproductive plant. An example of this could be certain vegetables such as cucumbers or zucchini. These plants require a lot of space as their vines and foliage grow big and wide, often taking over a whole corner or section of a traditional, in-ground garden.

Pros And Cons of Gardening in Small Spaces

1. Less Maintenance

As you may have gathered from the above information, gardening in small spaces often means much less maintenance and upkeep. Unwanted visitors such as mice or rabbits are much less likely to get into your plants, pests and disease are easier to avoid, and the weed population is significantly decreased.

2. More Flexibility

Small space gardening can also be extremely flexible! Depending on the method you use, you can move your containers around to make sure they are receiving enough sunlight, and you also have the capability of moving them to a sheltered spot in the event of heavy spring rains or hail that could cause damage.

3. Added Convenience

Added Convenience

The convenience of small space gardening is also a huge perk. Your miniature gardens will be easier to water and fertilize and are also much less strenuous as you do not have to crouch, bend, or kneel in order to plant, maintain, or harvest your produce.

4. You are More Limited in What You Can Grow

One of the biggest downfalls of small space gardening, however, is that gardeners are more limited with what they can grow compared to traditional in-ground gardening. Certain fruits and vegetables that require more space or deeper soil to grow in will be difficult to grow, though there are often different options for smaller, more compact varieties that will grow better in confined spaces.

5. Plants May Not Grow as Big or Produce as Much

Plants May Not Grow as Big or Produce as Much

With smaller plants comes a smaller harvest. While your container plants or hanging gardens can still produce an impressive crop, they will likely not grow quite as large as fruits or vegetables in a traditional garden. Similarly, a plant that has certain space requirements may be stressed by confinement and may not produce as impressive of a harvest.

6. Soil May Not Be Ideal

As we have talked about in previous blogs on garden soil, we all know that healthy soil grows healthy plants. In containers and such, it can be more difficult to create the “perfect soil.” Additionally, you will likely need to replace the soil in your containers yearly to avoid growing plants in soil that is completely devoid of nutrients.

Tips For Starting a Small Space Garden

Gardening in small spaces is definitely much different from your traditional, in-ground gardening. Here are a couple of small tips that will hopefully help you get the most out of your small space garden!

1. Succession Planting

This refers to planting crops in sequence, meaning that as soon as one plant has fulfilled its purpose, you immediately plant a new crop, and so on. For example, leafy greens such as spinach and lettuce are a crop that can be planted early in the season and prefer slightly cooler temperatures. They will grow and mature quickly and then can be harvested. Once harvested, you can plant tomatoes (which you have preferably started from seed indoors), which prefer the warmer temperatures of mid-summer. Once your tomato plants have produced all the fruit they can, promptly pull them up and plant the next crop, likely a cool-season crop since the gardening season will be coming to a close. Planting in succession like this ensures that you are able to maximize your space and get to enjoy different crops throughout the whole season.

2. Container/Bush/Determinate Varieties

Container/Bush/Determinate Varieties

As we mentioned above, some varieties of plants are more suited to container gardening or gardening in small spaces than other plants. Certain varieties may require deep soil to establish strong roots, while others may grow foliage so large that the plant may become stressed or may not be as productive if too constricted. Other plant varieties are known (or bred) to reach a smaller mature size and still produce a bounty. These varieties are often referred to as “container” varieties, “bush” varieties, or “determinate” plants. If you see any of these words on a seed packet or vegetable start, it means that the variety in question will grow particularly well in limited space and may be just what you are looking for!

3. Water and Fertilize Often

Don’t forget to water your plants thoroughly and often! Since they are in containers, the soil will dry out much more quickly than it would in a traditional garden. You may have to water every day, if not twice per day, depending on the weather! Similarly, since you are watering so frequently, you may need to fertilize more frequently as well. All of the water running through your soil and out the bottom of your containers can easily wash away a lot of the nutrients in the soil that your plants need, and plants that do not have access to the necessary nutrients will not be capable of producing a healthy harvest.

Questions About Gardening in Small Spaces?

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out! There are so many different ways to grow a garden successfully in small spaces, and sometimes the options can be overwhelming. We are here to help in any way we can, and it truly is our passion to help you grow better, naturally. Happy gardening everyone!

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