Vegetable gardens can take many forms at home
by Louise Estabrook
March 27, 2014 10:33 PM | 2730 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When you think of the words “vegetable garden” what do you picture in your mind? Many folks picture plowed ground, long furrows and a motorized tiller. Maybe you picture a scarecrow, rows of corn and a hoe. Many of us need to abandon this common image of what makes a good vegetable garden. Successful vegetable gardens can take many forms and can fit into small spaces. This is particularly important for folks with limited space. If you live in an apartment, have a shady wooded lot or if you would like to downsize from a large family garden, take heart. Here are a few suggestions for vegetable gardening in small spaces.

Container Gardening — Many common vegetables can be grown successfully in containers. Eggplant, peppers, and many other vegetables grow well in planters on sunny balconies and porches. Barrel halves make excellent containers for vegetables on decks. Almost any container that drains well and that receives full sun can make a good vegetable planter. I have even seen beautiful tomatoes planted directly into a bag of potting soil that was laid in the corner of a stone patio. The gardener just punched holes in the bottom of the bag for drainage and planted the tomato in a slit cut in the top of the bag. After planting they just covered the bag with pine straw for appearance sake.

Try attaching wheels on the bottom of a container, or place the entire container in a wagon. Then you can very easily wheel your garden to follow the sun. Consider using plastic bins with drainage holes as containers— they are deep, inexpensive, and if you put them on a board with attached wheels — they are mobile!

Go Vertical — Several of the most popular vegetables develop vines that can take up a lot of space when they reach maturity. Training these vines to a fence or trellis can save space in the garden. I have seen cucumbers, for example, grown on an inclined wire frame. The frame saved space and the ripe cucumbers dangled underneath making picking easy. Vegetables such as cantaloupe may require slings to support the heavy ripening fruit. Slings are easy to make out of old stocking material.

Use Raised Beds — Instead of a wide sprawling garden many folks can take advantage of a sunny corner of the landscape by building smaller raised beds. The soil in raised beds warms more quickly in the spring and drains well. Raised beds should be built narrow enough you can reach the center of the bed. Many vegetables grow well in the small space provided by raised beds. You can grow lettuce, mustard, onions, radish, spinach and many others. Only a few squash plants can furnish a family fresh squash all season. A small planting of okra bears for a long time if you harvest regularly. Tomatoes, peppers and other favorites work well in raised beds as well.

Garden Intensively —Containers and raised beds yield the best when you manage them intensively. Plant every inch of available space. Plant successive crops. In other words, when you finish harvesting lettuce and early planted crops, follow them by planting beans, peas, or other warm season crops. Don’t let your planting area lay idle.

Select Appropriate Varieties — Some determinate tomatoes are called patio tomatoes because they are well suited to small containers. They may reach a mature height of only one or two feet tall. Some vegetable are available in “dwarf” varieties that take much less space to grow. Beans and peas can be found in bush varieties that take less space than vine types.

Don’t let the fact that you have limited, time, space, or energy keep you from enjoying the flavor of fresh vegetables this year. You may be surprised how much you can harvest from a relatively small sunny space in your landscape. If you have extra, sign up with our Cherokee County Plant A Row for the Hungry campaign to help alleviate hunger in our own county! You’ll be invited to special classes during the summer and an amazing Gardener’s Harvest Party at the end of the season! Call the office for details. Together, we can kick hunger right out of our county!

Information about Extension Solutions for Homes and Gardens can be found on the UGA extension website, ; or contact the Cherokee County Extension Office, 1130 Bluffs Parkway, Suite G49, Canton, GA, 30114, 770-721-7803. The Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer Program is a volunteer training program offered through county offices of the UGA extension. Follow Cherokee County Master Gardeners on facebook at for gardening tips as well as upcoming seminars.

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