There’s nothing like fresh vegetables from the garden. They taste so much better than those found in stores and are only a few feet away to consume. I love the summer months where I head out into my garden to grab a couple of leaves of lettuce for a salad or pluck a cucumber from its vine. I have a large (but apparently not large enough!) garden now and plant pretty much everthing, but once upon a time I had a tiny raised garden bed and a small sliver of soil running along my fence in my postage-stamp sized backyard. I lived in a pretty urban neighbourhood and my house did not come with a large plot of land to garden out every vegetable I was craving.
The plant way of life is coming back and people are clamoring for raised garden beds, turning pots into mini gardens, and keeping vegetables on their balcony. Which means that if you’ve a small space, you can still plant a garden! Here are the best vegetables that can be kept in a small garden:
Cucumbers: Remember that any vine-plant can easily take over your garden. So, plant climbers so they can grow vertically by using bamboo stakes or along a fence, saving you space.
Carrots: These are easy to plant and barely take up any room. A small row will give you plenty of carrots for numerous salads, and if stored properly, carrots keep well for months.
Radishes: Radishes work similar to carrots, but will be ready to eat much faster. Sow into the garden early, giving yourself a small row. Plant a second row (or finish off the first) every 1-2 weeks until the weather turns hotter than hot to have radishes all summer. Sow again when the weather starts to turn cooler, for a crop of delicious radish in the fall.
Potatoes: One hill of potatoes can yield up to 10 potatoes! Plant 2-3 hills for a good amount of potatoes to get you through a month or two. Or, a week if you’re a huge potato eater like me.
Onions: Another root vegetable, onions are perfect for small gardens! Buy a couple of different varieties for cooking, salads, and burgers. Best of all, unless onion is your favorite go-to cooking addition, you don’t need to plant many of these to last a while.
Tomatoes: One tomato plant should do you all summer. Maybe two if you’re going for variety or just love tomatoes. While keeping one plant in your garden (with a vertical climber to save space) works well, finding a tomato plant that works well in a pot to save even more space is perfect for those without a physical garden, but still want fresh tomatoes!
Peppers: Pepper plants can produce 5-8 peppersper plant. Meaning, for fresh vegetables in the summer, buying one plant in each variety you like is all you need for some extra vegetables! Best of all, peppers work really well in pots. I had many in my garden (a large quantity for salsas) and then a few in pots on my deck for ‘decor’ and easy access for meals.
Lettuce: Lettuce works really well in pots, but the seedlings can get leggy if left inside. Keep them outside with the wind and elements in a few pots to have fresh salads all summer long. Lettuce likes the cooler temperatures, so plant more seeds (as many as possible without overcrowding) in your pots or garden every week – or two – until the weather starts to get hot.
Corn: While corn is a larger plant, it grows up and out of the way. A perfect plant for acting as a make-shift privacy fence during the summer, plant corn behind all of your other vegetables, making a beautiful garden ‘fence’. Unless you’re planning on storing your corn in the freezer, all you need are a few stocks to have fresh corn at a BBQ. If you’ve a large pot, you can even grow corn right on your balcony!
If you love squash and want to plant in your smaller garden, remember that each seed represents one vine and one vine can carry 2 – 5 pieces of fruit. Squash plants (much like cucumbers) love to branch out and can easily take over your garden in days. For a little squash, 1 or 2 seeds is more than enough!
Happy gardening and eating!