Growing and eating your own food can give you great satisfaction. So, if your garden space is limited, let your imagination increase its size. Here are some small space gardening ideas to get your imagination going.
Small Space Gardening Ideas
1. ‘Three sisters’ planting
This traditional Native American plant grouping allows you to grow corn, pole beans, and squash together in a large plant tub or even a child’s small swimming pool.
Starting with fertile soil, sow 6 evenly spaced corn seeds in a circle about halfway in from the sides of your planter. Alongside each corn seed sow a bean seed.
If you prefer, substitute peas for the beans or use a combination. Beans and peas will grow up the corn. Space 4 squash seeds in a ring around the other seeds and close to the edge of the planter. If you don’t like squash you can substitute cucumbers.
Both squash and cucumbers will send out low growing vines and leaves to shade out weeds and retain moisture. Squash has the added benefit of prickly stems and leaves which will also help to deter raccoons and other marauders.
2. Growing food in upside down planters
No ground sprawl, no staking and best of all no weeding plus the benefit of vegetables that are safe from earth-born insects.
If you’d rather make your own upside-down planter you’ll need a large wireframe coco, kenaf or coir lined basket. Using heavy scissors, cut an x-shaped hole through the center bottom of the liner.
Carefully feed a tomato plant root ball and stem through it from the outside. Hang the basket. Fill your basket with a good all-purpose soil mix that contains some vermiculite for water retention.
Build up the soil around the root and stem first to support the plant then finish filling the basket. Add a basil plant to the top of the planter. Basil aids in the growth and flavor of tomatoes.
3. Vertical growing using a downspout trellis
Sleepy Kitty Decorative Downspout Cover Extension Garden Decoration Make use of your eave’s trough downspout with a downspout trellis, growing peas, beans, cucumbers, small watermelons or any other plant that likes to climb, next to the protection of a house wall.
Spread gravel around the base of the spout to allow drain water to seep slowly into the soil around your plants. If excess rainwater is problematic, install a downspout diverter to keep water from drowning your plants or use a downspout sprinkler. This small attachment acts as a soaker hose, filling up with rainwater and dispensing it more gently.
4. Growing potatoes in tire tubes
Potatoes generally take up a lot of space but they don’t have to. A tire tube planter allows you to harvest about 25 pounds of potatoes within the circumference of a single tire tube.
You will need 4 tire tubes and a mix of soil and compost. Set down the first tire tube and fill it with soil about halfway, making sure to fill the inside of the tire casing as well. If you have access to comfrey leaves, place a few of them in your planting hole to protect the potatoes from scab.
Plant 3 or 4 potato pieces, each piece having 2 or more “eyes”. Cover with soil to bring it to level with the top of the tire opening. Once the plants are about 8 inches tall, add another tire and fill with soil until just a couple of inches of the tops are above the soil. Repeat the process until you have used all 4 tires.
This method encourages the potato plant to create lateral roots at intervals from the main tap root. These laterals produce potatoes at 3 or 4 levels. When ready to harvest simply remove the tires, reaping as you make your way down the stack.
5. Multi-level vertical garden
Another interesting tire planter for a small space is made from a tractor tire, a truck tire, a small car tire, and an ATV tire. First, cut out the side walls of each. Set the tractor tire where you want your planter and fill it with soil. Position the truck tire on top and fill it with soil. Continue on until you have placed and filled the ATV tire. This will give you a multi-level vertical garden.
6. Grow a living wall
Living walls are another great idea for limited spaces. Use them against a fence or between the framework on your deck railing. Even a small apartment deck won’t have to sacrifice a valuable seating area. Just attach a living wall to the railing.
7. Companion planting
Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening If you have a flower garden, don’t forget the option of planting vegetables in with your flowers. A premise of companion planting is that the wider the variety of plants growing together, the lower the chance that insect pests will find their targets.
Consider form, color, height, spread and scent when making your choices.
In your perennial flower beds think of other perennials to grow along with them like asparagus or rhubarb.
Take into account the specific benefits one may have for the other. For example, rhubarb helps to deter red spider mites from columbines, parsley increases the fragrance of roses and garlic repels aphids from roses.
Bee balm improves the flavor of tomatoes and if you plant cabbage next to hyssop, the hyssop will deter cabbage moths.
Lamium planted with potatoes will repel potato bugs and lovage improves the health of most plants. Use this large plant, which tastes a bit like celery, as a backdrop in the flower garden. Peppers, too, can be ornamental as well as tasty so don’t forget to tuck a few plants into your flower beds.
As you can see, there are plenty of small space gardening ideas you can use to start your own small space garden. I hope you have fun growing your won food.
Adriana Copaceanu is a passionate nature lover living in the country on her dream property where she grows vegetables, lavender, and wildflowers that she shares with the wildlife they attract. When she's not in the garden, she loves spending time with her chickens and planning her next nature project. Check your her books below: