Vegetable Gardens for Small Space Gardeners

Posted by on Feb 14, 2016 in Bookshare, Gardening | 34 comments

vegetable gardensWith small suburban lots and condo living having become the norm, there are many people who feel they don’t have space for vegetable gardens. It’s not that they wouldn’t like to grow some of their own herbs and vegies, they just don’t see how they can. Well, guess what? Vegetable gardens are not only possible in the smallest spaces, done right they can add a lot of visual interest to their surroundings.

I recently discovered this DK Book at the Library – Grow All You Can Eat in 3 Square Feet. This 255 page book is basically a step-by-step pictorial guide showing in detail how one or more small vegetable gardens can be placed in, on or against all kinds of unusual spots.

No doubt you’ve heard it said “A picture’s worth a thousand words”. Looking at the images below, don’t you agree that they show what can be done better than any words could? The only thing I did was add a bit of supporting information and a few helpful suggestions.

All Photos below from: Grow All You Can Eat in 3 Square Feet – copyright 2016 Dorling Kindersley Ltd – used with permission and with thanks. 

Vegetable Gardens for Small Spaces:

Vegetable Gardens

Wall-Mounted Planting Pockets

Anyone having access to a wall will be able to use the wall-mounted planting pockets to grow herbs and salad greens. The one shown is hung from a bamboo pole to avoid drilling a lot of holes in the wall. It’s easy to see that this unit can be placed against any wall – house, garage, garden fence, etc. Consider filling one with herbs and salad greens, then hanging it outside the kitchen door, convenient for picking salad fixin’s when you need them. The unit shown above contains: Thyme, rosemary, sage, viola, chives, strawberries and Microgreens

The Microgreens post, which was written for indoor growing, can easily be adapted to outdoors. Just plant the seeds in the pockets and cover with vermiculite. Don’t let them dry out. Instead of harvesting at 2-3 inches, I would let them grow to 4-6 inches, before cutting them. 

Vegetable Gardens

Companion Planting in Patio Pots.             Tagetes Flowers, Tomatoes, Basil and Thyme

Companion planting is one of the better things you can do, both for the garden and for the environment. Here’s a very simplified description of how it works. Peas and beans add nitrogen to the soil which helps flowers grow bigger and better. Flowers return the favour by attracting pollinators needed for proper vegetable growth. Chamomile increases the fragrance of aromatic plants attracting even more pollinators. Pollinators plus the fragrance put out by different plants deter pests. No effort required but by using companion planting methods you save work for yourself and do the garden and the environment a world of good. As shown above, companion planting works as well in pots as it does in window-boxes, flowerbeds, vegetable gardens, or combinations.

vegetable gardens

Vertical planting with reclaimed, recycled or upcycled ladder shelves ideal for garden vegetables, herbs and fruit.

I love the idea of using reclaimed or recycled materials to grow food. Doesn’t that sound just so ‘green’? It wouldn’t be hard to find materials for the above unit at yard sales, flea markets, thrift stores, or possibly even in your own garage. It is simple to put together and doesn’t require tools. What I really like about it is that it can be placed anywhere – on the deck, patio, balcony, tucked in a corner of the backyard, placed in full sun, part shade or protected from wind. This is another great idea for growing ‘frequent harvesting’ produce like salad greens and herbs since it can be placed wherever it is handiest. 

vegetable gardens

Fruit trees and berries in selection of recycled tubs, including, apples, blueberries, strawberries

It’s not only the standard herbs and vegetables that can be grown in small spaces. Apples, blueberries and strawberries are all on the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list, the foods with the most harmful pesticides, yet in their natural, non-toxic form they are considered superfoods. Now imagine growing those products yourself without any harmful chemicals. It can easily be done by growing them in containers and placing them wherever there is a spot available. Not only would the fruits and berries be safer to eat, fresh picked home-grown produce is a thousand times tastier than anything you can find in a supermarket. Well worth finding a little bit of space for, right?

By thinking outside the box and being creative it is possible to have vegetable gardens in the smallest spaces – if not outdoors, then by growing microgreens indoors.

For anyone interested, the book is available from Amazon. I have just become an Amazon associate and will receive a small commission on any books sold through my site. I love books and this just happens to be one of the most enjoyable and informative gardening books I’ve seen in quite some time.

Talk to you again next week,


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  1. Really cute and attractive suggestions, Lenie. As far as I’m concerned there is no way I’m becoming even a small space gardener. Have enough on my plate with orchids indoors:-)

    • Ha Catarina – growing orchids indoors – which are not the easiest things to keep alive – makes you an indoor gardener 🙂 LOL

  2. Growing, ha ha. Just having plants because I find them attractive.

  3. What lovely ideas. Not only are the small space gardens efficient and healthy, but they are really attractive. I could manage one of them but fortunately my husband does our gardening.

    • Beth, aren’t the photos gorgeous? I could only choose 4 photos from the book – such a difficult choice because there were so many beautiful and useful pictures to choose from. I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t garden. I go out early in the mornings to make sure all is well, talk to the plants, and sometimes if I’m lucky I’ll have a doe looking on so I’ll talk to her too. The deer don’t bother my gardens because I have whirlygigs which keeps them away. Great way to start the day.

  4. I really love our small garden we did last year. 4 feet by 4 feet raised garden, it had three tiers. We also made a hanging garden with baskets and it worked great too. Thanks for sharing.

    • Sabrina, if I’m not mistaken you wrote a post about your tiered garden and it was a great idea. Isn’t it fun to grow your herbs and vegies in with the flowers? Good for everyone.

  5. I love all these ideas and am especially fascinated with vertical gardening. Over a year ago I moved into a bungalow condo. I have a small raised flower bed in front of the house and at the back, but have no other space for gardening. Those beds are mostly taken up with roses and flowers, but I did grow jalapeno peppers and tomatoes this summer and had a bumper harvest. I also grow herbs in containers on the patio.

    • Donna, I really like the vertical garden ideas but then I also like growing fruit trees in tubs. We have 10 acres so space is not a problem but I am seriously thinking about adding a dwarf apple tree under-planted with nasturtiums, chives and daffodils to the flower bed in front of the house. I love the wall mounted planting pockets and think that would be so neat to hang outside my back door, accessible both to the kitchen and the BBQ. Lots of fun in planning.

  6. Hello Lenie,
    The wall mounted planting pockets are something we need in our house…
    Thank you for this great idea.

  7. You make it appear so easy Lenie. I am not green fingered and as much as I would like to have pretty flowers on one side of our garden and veggies on the other, I do not have the time or the passion to keep it going. This is where gardeners come in handy!

    • Phoenicia, to a gardener like me there is nothing better than making the garden the best it can be – attractive and productive. But I know there are non-gardeners like you and then you’re right – hired gardeners need to eat too 🙂

  8. I love the idea of small container gardening. I have no yard to speak of but there is a large wrap-around deck but being so close to the ocean between the salt air and the ever present trade winds plants don’t do well out there. But there is one wall on the side of the house that might work and with this type of gardening it doesn’t seem like much of an investment to experiment so I am definitely going to give it a try. Thanks Lenie!

    • Marquita, I was thinking about you when I wrote this post. I know on some of my past gardening posts you sounded interested in growing some of your own food but didn’t think you could. I hope you find that sheltered spot and go ahead with it. When you do, I would love to hear how you make out. Good luck and if you need any support, you know where to find me.

  9. Perfect blog to set me dreaming of springtime, Lenie. Now that we have our new deck, I’m ready to have a container garden on it this summer. We can’t plant anything in the yard because of the crazy amount of deer we have (in our suburbia yard!), but the deck is a different game. I’m going to check out the book. Love the idea of planting berry bushes on my deck–never went beyond herbs until now.

    • Rose, when you mentioned dreaming of springtime I just realized that most of my gardening posts are written during this time. That time to dream is what makes winter enjoyable, at least for me now that I’m retired.
      I think these portable planters are the greatest and the book is definitely something I’m going to be getting – thinking ahead it would make a great Mother’s Day gift. I agree that growing berries is pretty neat – I love the apple-tree. They have dwarf ones now that produce three different type of apples on one tree. As for the deer, they can be a beautiful nuisance.

      • Definitely checking on the trees. Got my new starter soil yesterday, have to decide what seeds to get. Basil, always oodles and oodles of basil! And, of course, Rosemary. ha. Now I also have to try your lavender transplanting system. Spring!

        • Isn’t Spring coming on an exciting time – so much to look forward to. Just imagine how wonderful those trees will look and smell once they’re out in blossom. When we bought our farm in ’85, the realtor really knew what he was doing. Before showing us the house he took us for a walk down a cow path lined with apple-trees on both sides and it just happened to be apple blossom time. My husband and I just looked at each other and knew we were about to buy the place without even checking the house. The path was absolutely gorgeous. Good luck with the seed starting and don’t forget the rosemary………

  10. Hi Lenie. That sounds like a great book. Cool ideas on how to squeeze a garden in anywhere. I like the “all you can eat in 3sf . Very catchy, but wonder how much you could really fit in. With their ideas I’m sure a lot.

    • Hi Susan, I’m sure you know how some books just grab you – well, this one did me. I know water was a concern where you live and that is one of the nice things about these gardens – no water waste. In my raised beds I have soaker hoses buried halfway down so the plants get all the water and there is no waste or evaporation. You really would be surprised how much you can grow in that small amount of space – it all depends on the plants and succession planting.

  11. Hi, Lenie

    I fall in love with the wall mounted planting pockets because we can grow some veg, plants, or flowers even there is no deck, backyard, or walkway for pot gardening.

    They can decorate the exterior walls of the house and them as artistic project. We have one in our area and are planning to add one more.

    Thanks for sharing!

    – Stella Chiu

    • Hi Stella, aren’t those wall pockets neat? If you’re the least bit creative they can be just what you said – a form of art, certainly able to pretty up any blah area. And since many herbs and salad greens are annuals, these wall pockets are perfect for that.

  12. I love these ideas, especially the wall-mounted pockets. I’ve done herbs in containers before, but have since switched to two raised garden beds that are 6×3 feet. I want to add another bed and regret not fencing in the side yard along my house as it sits on a corner lot. It’s a pity gardens are not acceptable to be in front yards per my HOA guidelines. I’d much rather grow veggies than a lawn anyday 😉

    • Jeri, if you have a flower bed in front it’s not hard to add a vegie or two. My front flower bed is edged with lavender, then I have chives with the roses to keep aphids away, have orange mint, lemon thyme, lemon balm and basil also growing there. If you’re in warm weather country then you could actually grow a hedge of rosemary (if you like rosemary that is) or even tuck some Red Russian kale plants in with the flowers. But read the book – if you have 2 6×3 boxes you should be able to grow all kinds of stuff with their directions, enough to keep you going all winter. Keep me informed – I love to hear about gardening challenges and how people resolve them.:)

  13. Lenie, one of these days I’m finally going to get off my butt and actually start a small garden. Your frequent posts about gardening always remind me what a great idea it is to have a garden. I live in an apartment so it would have to be one for tight spaces. These ideas are just fantastic.

    • Hi Erica, aren’t these some of the cutest ideas? I like that they’re so portable. The older I get, the closer to the house I want my gardens so I’ll be using some of these ideas for myself. I love the wall-hanging one and am thinking a large pot of salad stuff on my patio table. Hope you get to grow a cherry tomato plant (underplanted with basil) if nothing else. Purchased tomatoes just don’t compare.

  14. I just saw the hanging planting pockets on a home improvement show. I have a house, but work in another city, and so have an apartment. This meant I was unable to keep track of a vegetable garden at my house.
    I think I will use thee ideas for planting a vegetable garden at my apartment.
    Thanks for these wonderful ideas.

  15. Excellent ideas. When I move somewhere that has more space I may start a small garden.

  16. I have to confess, Lenie, that I’ve never done any real gardening in my entire life. However, this post has planted the seed in my mind: “It would definitely be cool to grow my own McIntosh apples.” McIntosh apples are my favorite type of apple – their combination of a tart taste and a crisp texture puts them at the head of the class – but they are ‘problematic’ in the following respects:
    (1) They are available for only a few months a year.
    (2) Some stores carry them, some don’t.
    (3) They are fragile and consequently can be really bunged up when they are available, particularly toward the end of their season.
    If I can’t rely on Mr. Grocery Store for my beloved McIntosh apples, then perhaps I should take matters into my own hands. What do you think?

    P.S. Thanks for the MoneyPantry link.

    • Andy, I swear I’m going to hire you to write my blog post titles – planting a seed, indeed. 🙂 I think you should go for planting a McIntosh Apple tree – that would be a good one to start with, it would be fun to pick your own non-sprayed apples when you want them and just think of the money you would save. Besides that, having your own dwarf apple tree would be a great conversation piece. I say go for it and let me know how you make out.

  17. Thx so much for sharing this informative post and info about the book, Lenie! I love container gardening and really like the idea of using second hand or other items that have outlived their original uses for the purpose of a new life in the garden. Way cool!

    • Doreen, aren’t these some of the greatest ideas?I love a good book loaded with practical information and the pictures were amazing. The recycling was pretty well the theme throughout the book – lots of fun to read – almost as good as the Chocolateur 🙂

  18. Lenie — love the idea of a small garden. I have a balcony in my apartment where I could certainly have a garden. But I have a brown thumb and haven’t had success in growing plants. I didn’t inherit the gene from my father, who loved to garden and grew so many tomatoes, cucumbers, string beans, etc. that he used to give away bags of food to our friends and neighbors.

    Interesting fact: By 1944, during World War 2, Victory Gardens were responsible for producing 40% of all vegetables grown in the United States.

    • Jeannette, just think of the money people could save if they had the same frugal mindset as back then. Not only that, but they would be eating a whole lot healthier. I love reading about how people managed during the depression and the war years – not that I want to relive them but just to glean information and to admire people’s ability to respond so well to circumstances.