Home Grown

Tips and resources for farmers and gardeners

Small Space Gardening

If you have only a small space to grow vegetables, try planting closer together.

Vegetable Garden, Pontoise, 1879 by Camille Pissarro
Vegetable Garden, Pontoise, 1879 by Camille Pissarro

Forget rows of seeds or plants with traditional distances between them. Just plant the recommended distance apart without rows.

With intensive spacing, there is more efficient use of space and water. This method can allow you to shrink your garden up to 40 percent without losing planting room.

Higher density plantings crowd out weeds and no new weed seeds are turned up, because there is no roto-tilling.

But high density, intensive plantings need more fertilizer.

I recommend making high intensity beds only as wide as can be reached into from each side. Planting areas are only about three feet wide.

Never step on planting areas soil because weight compacts and degrades soil structure.

If the garden bed is never walked on, it can be planted edge to edge.

To save more space, design paths between the beds wide enough for a wheelbarrow at one side only. You can use grass as a ground cover in the between-bed paths. Then, keep the grass mowed or clipped close with a weed eater. Grass paths are easy to navigate, increasing the growing and maintenance efficiency of the garden.

Corner Garden

Apply fertilizer and water to the garden beds only. Do not waste any on the grassy paths. Intensive patterns include planting carrots in 1-inch by 1-inch spaces and growing tomatoes in 3-foot by 3-foot spaces. Growing vegetables and flowers together is also efficient.

A mixed garden tends to be much healthier and encourages beneficial insects to move in and help with the pest control.
Ornamentals are worthy as well as the food value of certain vegetables in an intensive home garden. Red cabbage, rhubarb, chard, leaf lettuce and compact tomatoes are decorative as well as useful plants. You could plant vegetables in some flower beds and borders. Since the watering schedule for the food crops will be adequate for the perennial shrubs, this works.

Utilize space that opens up as the season progresses. Not only does this increase yield, but it also leaves no room for weeds to take hold. Plant rows of summer lettuce in the shade of larger vegetables. Plant your fall and winter garden between the summer garden plants as they finish up. For example, plant bush beans in place of the carrots we pull up in June. Or sow some seed for Oriental greens in the place of those bush peas that get starchy. I advise intensive gardeners to mulch areas that are harvested out and not planted right away. This feeds the soil and starves the weeds.

Source: University of California


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