First of two posts! See 2nd post, 4.22.10
Clever Space Saving Strategies for Your Urban Garden!
To some, a 10′ X 20′ Community Garden plot is daunting, to others it is not near enough space! To get a tasty variety and enough production to keep your table steadily supplied all year, to have some to put in the freezer or can, here are some tips we Community Gardeners have learned to up our production!
Plan ahead for 3 seasons, maybe even four: a cool-season crop, a warm-season crop, and then finishing with another cool-season crop. Careful attention to days to maturity for each crop grown will establish the ideal rotation period.
Raised beds without framing—plant on top and sides. Higher yield than on flat ground.
Companion Planting—some plants actually kill others or stunt their growth. Onions stunt peas, but others thrive with each other, i.e. carrots enhance peas!
Stacking—does your plant serve multiple functions, table food, fiber, dye, herb.
- Put plants under each other at different levels, lettuce that may need summer shade under a taller plant, or used as a trap plant for Brassicas.
- Classic radish, carrots combo—short fast growing radishes dovetail nicely with long slow growing carrots!
- Start plants that will succeed another, for example, beans after peas, while the peas are finishing, you plant your beans at their bases.
- Interplant fast maturing crops such as lettuce, spinach and radishes with slower crops such as beans, squash and melons. By the time the slow crop grows to fill the space, the quick crop will be harvested. Or beans, radishes, green onions, spinach, or leaf lettuce may be planted between rows of tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, or corn.
- Trellising, cages, staking, using fences – peas, beans, cucumbers, melons.
- Pole beans versus bush beans = more beans for a longer time!
- Plant different varieties of the same plant that mature at different times, or entirely different kinds of plants, on either side of your trellis. They can grow simultaneously, but give a more continuous supply from that area of your garden.
On the other hand, for more variety, today’s gardener can also choose select bush varieties of beans, cucumbers, melons and squash that require much less space than standard varieties. For example:
- Little Leaf Cucumber: This compact plant variety got its name because its leaves are only half the size of regular cucumber leaves.
- Burpee’s Butterbush Butternut Squash: These plants only need 1/4 the space that traditional sprawling winter squash varieties need. About nine square feet is as much space as this plant will need in order to produce its bell-shaped fruits. This variety also matures relatively quickly and produces 1 1/2 pound butternut squashes about 75 days after you seed it.
Maximum production will require that you disregard standard row and plant spacing and utilize wide rows or beds for planting. For instance, seeds of many crops, such as leaf lettuce or beets, can be broadcast in a bed 1 to 3 feet across and thinned to obtain proper spacing—tasty little greens for your salad! Other crops, such as cabbage or broccoli, can be planted closely in wide rows so that their outer leaves will touch one another when the plants are about three-fourths mature. These tender thinnings can be stir fried or steamed! These methods reduce space wasted as aisles, and often provide such dense shade that weed growth is inhibited and evaporation of soil moisture is reduced.
Container Garden, a Plot in a Pot! Hang baskets in tiers, on hooks on your fence, hang window boxes on your balcony, from a balcony – see images! On your roof, up your wall, on your deck. Grow lettuce and herbs in your windows! Use shelves. Espalier fruit trees. Mix veggies among ornamentals around your property. Although tomato and cucumber plants are the ones most commonly grown upside down, a wide assortment of plants can benefit from upside-down gardening, from vegetables to herbs and a variety of flowers.
- Consider a Hay Bale Garden! One gardener says ‘You can grow so much in a hay bale garden – lettuce, peas, flowers, strawberries and much more. Don’t limit yourself to planting just the top – tuck edible nasturtiums, creeping thyme or fragrant alyssum into the sides.’ Total instructions by Rose Marie Nichols McGee, co-author of Bountiful Container!
- Although tomato and cucumber plants are the ones most commonly grown upside down, a wide assortment of plants can benefit from upside-down gardening, from vegetables to herbs and a variety of flowers.
Plant smart! May you have many healthful and muy delicioso meals!