So you want to garden, but you’re not sure if you have enough space. Chances are, if you have any outdoor space at all, you have enough! A tiny yard won’t stop you from growing garden-fresh veggies to enjoy throughout the year. By getting a bit creative and choosing the right crops, you’ll see just how simple small space vegetable gardening can be!
Best Vegetables for Small Spaces
Since you have a small area to work with, choose vegetables that grow fast and produce a high yield. Plant these wherever you can find the space—in your yard, on your balcony, on a windowsill, or in hanging baskets!
Cherry Tomatoes: If you don’t have much yard space, look up! Hanging baskets work great for vegetables like cherry tomatoes. Choose a basket around 12 inches deep with a moss, coconut, or plastic liner (If using plastic, make sure the pot has drainage holes). Instead of planting seeds directly in the basket, use seedlings instead, which you can start now indoors. You’ll want to wait to transplant the seedlings outside until after any risk of frost has passed, which is around early May here in Iowa. Hang the basket in a sunny spot.
Cucumbers: You might not think of cucumbers as small space vegetables since the vines sprawl across the ground, but you can easily train them for small spaces! When they start to grow, guide the vine upward along a trellis or fence. Alternatively, you can grow smaller cucumber varieties in a hanging basket. Besides saving space, another bonus of growing cucumbers vertically is that it reduces the risk of rot and disease. Plant seeds or seedlings in a spot with full sun and nutrient-rich, well-draining soil. Like tomatoes, wait until May to plant cucumbers.
Leaf Lettuce: Since leaf lettuce grows so quickly, maturing in about 45 days, you can plant more than one crop. Sow seeds in spring, then again in late summer. You can also plant seeds every couple weeks until late summer for a more continuous harvest. Plant the seeds close together, about four to six inches apart. If you have a bit of extra room near one of your other vegetables, consider growing a lettuce plant or two there to make the most of your space! Leaf lettuce grows well in partial shade, so it’s OK if nearby taller plants block some of the sunshine. To harvest, remove outer leaves, allowing the inner leaves to continue to grow. Mature lettuce can taste woody, so check your plants often for leaves that are ready to harvest.
Radishes: Like lettuce, radishes take up so little room, you can use them as fillers in the rest of your garden. Radishes like sunny spots and rich soil. In Bettendorf, you can plant seeds starting in late March, and in three to five weeks, you’ll have a crop ready to harvest! Consider successive planting, so you have radishes all summer long. If you’re only looking to grow one crop this year, you can fill the empty space after harvesting with another veggie. Though often overlooked, radish greens are edible too! Sauté them or try a twist on pesto by using radish leaves instead of basil. For an even healthier snack that looks like it came from a fancy English high tea, try radish and flower toast.
Pole Beans: Just because you have a small garden doesn’t mean you can’t stock up on veggies to last you through the winter! Use pole beans straight off the vine, or try canning them to stock up for the winter. Plant pole beans in full sun near a trellis, fence, or pole so you can train the vines to climb. Start planting them, either from seeds or seedlings, after the risk of frost has passed. Beans will be mature and ready for harvest after about 60 days. Harvest often, as consistent harvesting encourages the production of new pods. Instead of having to rely on heading to the grocery store every time you want fresh produce, why not grow your own?
By choosing the right veggies, you can enjoy an abundant harvest no matter how big your garden is.