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Vegetable Gardening in Small Spaces

Question:

Allen, I have an area in my backyard that receives full sun, and I'd like to plant multiple vegetables. The problem is that I don't have a lot of space. Are there techniques that I can use in my limited area?

Answer:

Well, Ashley, actually, there are some things you can think about. I love to do raised beds, as you may know, with nutrient-rich soils. So that'll put you in good stead to produce a lot of vegetables.

I suggest you try a very old concept called intercropping. It involves combining plants in close quarters to save space. For it to work the plants must have similar cultural requirements and complementary growing habits. For instance, deep rooted carrots make good companions to shallow rooted lettuce. Another example is planting corn, squash and beans together. The squash shades and cools the soil, the corn provides a structure for the beans to climb and the beans add nitrogen back to the soil. This technique originated with Native American Indians.

Another thing you can do is plan for the next season when you are planting for the current season. In Spring I planted Red Sails lettuce as a groundcover and snap peas to grow up stakes. Once it got a little warmer, I planted Husky tomatoes in between the snap peas. When the snap peas were done, the tomatoes had plenty of room to grow up the stakes. Once the lettuce was all harvested I had space to plant snap beans.

One other thing to think about is planting in containers. It's a great space-saving way to grow things even potatoes can be grown in pots. I use bushel and half-bushel baskets to grow potatoes.

There are lots of different combinations of vegetables that can co-exist and perform beautifully. You just need to figure out the season and which ones are compatible. And then the other tip, of course, is to get creative in the containers that you use.