Gardening has always been popular, but interest has skyrocketed. Spending so much time at home over the last three years has bolstered people’s interest in self-sustainability.
Not everyone is lucky enough to have acres of supple, fertile land and big dollar farm equipment. In fact, most of us live in urban communities, apartments, concrete jungles, or have a yard the size of a postage stamp. Fear not, though, you can still become a master gardener. All you need is a few square feet of outdoor space.
Square Foot Gardening vs. Micro-gardening
The two kinds of gardening that work best for small spaces are square foot gardening and micro-gardening.
Square foot gardening is a simple method of creating small, orderly, productive herb and vegetable gardens. Best for people with at least a little land that gets consistent sunlight.
Micro-gardening involves growing highly productive, energy and space-efficient, sustainable, affordable plants in containers and pots. It works best for those with small balconies, patios, or window boxes.
Location. Consider spaces with adequate sunlight, easy access to water, and rich soil. Some veggies need 6-8 hours of direct sun each day, but lettuce and root vegetables can survive in light shade.
Choose Wisely. Less is more when space is limited. If plants are too close together, they’ll end up competing for nutrients and light and be more prone to disease. Properly placing your plants ensures that everything gets what it needs, which means a better yield overall. You also don’t want to plant things that spread or crawl and take up a lot of space. Herbs, annual flowers, and leaf lettuce are great choices for micro-gardens. Things like jalapenos, beets, carrots, and tomatoes are great for square foot gardens.
Create a schedule. Succession planting is a method of staggering propagation (or planting) to produce a continual supply and extend your harvest. Short-season vegetables–like lettuce, radishes, and peas–are great for this. So if you’re starting seeds now, you might want to plant some lettuce seeds now, then add a few more in a couple of weeks, and a few more seeds two weeks after that. This way, you’ll have a steady supply of lettuce throughout the season.
Group Like Things. Keep major plant families together in the same bed. Garlic, onion, chives, and leeks are in the same family (allums). Spinach, chard, and beets, are too (amaranths). Cucumbers, melons, squash, and pumpkins should stick together. Also, consider which plants are companions like shade-tolerant plants and taller crops. Basil, for example, needs some shade from the afternoon sun and tall tomato plants can provide that.
Pest Control. You have to be vigilant in keeping pest and disease problems at bay. If you do notice an infestation, you should seriously consider not growing the affected plant or plants in the same family for at least a year. It’s not optimal, but if you don’t take the break, you could experience a few years of disappointing yield.
Are you planting in your small space? We’d love to hear about your garden and what you’re hoping to harvest. Let us know in the comments.