Finding a place to plant some veggies and herbs can be challenging.
Not everyone has a yard, and not every yard has space for a big garden plot.
But no matter where you live, you can find some place to raise a few veggies!
Here we’ll talk about four different places you can grow some groceries.
For centuries, gardeners have grown vegetables in garden patches of all sizes. Typically, the soil is tilled or turned before seeds or started seedlings are planted. Throughout the growing season, cultivating and weeding are done by hand or with tools.
The most common planting pattern for many years was a series of rows with space to walk or even till between the rows. In recent decades, many gardeners have realized that intensive planting in large blocks yielded more produce per square foot and allowed fewer weeds to grow.
Today both methods are used, as are other variations and combinations. In any case trellises, arbors, teepee frames, and cages can be used provide support for climbing and branching plants.
Fruit trees, nut trees, and berry bushes are often planted in orchards, though they can also be scattered throughout a yard or acreage as long as pollination needs are met. Some fruit vines and small trees can be trained to grow on fences and trellises.
Bramble berry bushes are best grown in rows with some kind of support, while compact bushes such as blueberries can be grown in rows or dispersed in ornamental beds.
A garden plot or orchard is best located in a sunny area with easy access to water. Other factors to consider are proximity to the home and location of garden tools and equipment.
Though it may be tempting to plant a huge area, it’s wise to start small if you are just learning to garden or are not sure how much time you will have available to tend your plants.
Raised bed gardening is a method of growing plants in beds that are raised up off the ground. Typically, large rectangular boxes are fashioned out of large lumber, such as 4x4s. Other materials such as cinder block, metal siding, and bricks may be used. The boxes usually don’t have bottoms, so plant roots can grow down into the underlying soil.
The beds may be built up to any height. Many gardeners who can’t bend or kneel find raised bed gardening comfortable and doable. They can also be made accessible to gardeners in wheel chairs. A pint-sized raised bed can be built for the youngest gardeners in your family.
A common width for raised beds is four feet, which allows the average adult to reach to the middle from either side. When deciding on the length of the beds, take into consideration how far you’d like to walk to get around to the other side of the bed. If you have ten feet of space available, would you prefer one ten foot bed or two shorter beds with a path in between?
Raised bed gardening is great for areas with little space, because it’s perfect for intensive planting across the entire width of the beds. Plants can be compacted into a much smaller area than they would be in a traditional garden.
Even if you do have a lot of room, you might prefer growing in raised beds so you can grow more in the same amount of space. Raised beds planted intensively can often double or triple the amount of produce harvested from an area of land.
If you live in an area with very poor soil, you can purchase or make a high quality potting mix for your raised beds. You will instantly have much better soil than you did before! If your beds are deeper than twelve inches, any soil may be used to provide the base under the potting mix.
Soil in a raised bed will warm up and drain faster than surrounding soil at ground level. This may mean a head start on the growing season as well as an earlier warmup each morning. Floating row covers, hoop houses, and cloche covers can provide still more protection from the cold. Drip irrigation, trellises, and cages can also be used in raised beds.
Container gardening is very flexible and adaptable. Many varieties of herbs, vegetables, and flowers—even dwarf fruit trees–can be grown in containers.
This type of gardening provides a solution for various challenges, including lack of space, scattered sunlight, and gardeners’ physical limitations.
Containers for planting can be utilitarian or fun, matching or eclectic. Many different receptacles can be used, including pots, planters, boxes, crates, buckets, tubs, crocks, and plastic storage containers.
Since container plants can be placed on surfaces of almost any height, it’s great solution for people who have trouble bending, kneeling, or squatting to care for plants in a traditional garden, or for those who are confined to a wheelchair. Container gardening is also simple for children and beginning gardeners, because you can plant very small areas that won’t require a lot of maintenance.
Another great benefit of container gardening is saving space. If you have a very small yard or live in an apartment with no yard space at all, you can use containers to grow plants on your patio or porch. If your yard receives little sunlight, you can place pots where they will receive the most sun.
Portable containers allow for rearranging of planters for aesthetic or practical reasons. Fading plants can be placed in the background while more attractive plants become focal points. As the season progresses, plants can be repositioned to take advantage of more or less sun or shade. Patio or deck planters may be moved out of the way when more space is needed for people or furniture.
Edible landscaping is a great solution for people who have strict neighborhood covenants and restrictions or yards with very limited gardening space.
You might be surprised how many vegetable plants and fruit bushes you can grow right in a landscaped yard. The keys are to keep the plants in proportion and color scheme with surrounding plants and to select varieties that are attractive and decorative.
Some edible plants actually closely resemble non-edible landscaping plants. Blueberry bushes fit right in among other deciduous-leafed shrubs. Onions grow tall stalks that look like thick ornamental grasses, and many herbs look like lovely flowering bushes. Grapes climbing an arbor or trellis may appear to be common landscaping vines.
The possibilities are endless.
If you still don’t think you have space, you can even grow some veggies indoors! Check out these posts for ideas:
Ready, Set, Go!
If you’ve not yet settled on a particular type of gardening, you might start with one of the more simple forms of gardening like container gardening or adding some edibles to your landscaping beds. This will be an easy way for you to tell whether or not you even enjoy gardening, whether you’re physically and mentally able to handle it, and how much time you have to devote to it.
By starting out small, you’ll have time to adjust to everything, and you’ll be able to decide just how much more you think you’re willing and able to handle.
This post was originally published in February, 2011.
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Filed under: Growing Food