If you’re wondering how to grow a garden in your tiny yard, you’re in the right place! Small space gardening makes growing organic, homegrown produce possible just about anywhere.
I’m always being asked what people can grow in the small space they have, and my answer is always, “probably more than you think!”
You’d be surprised how much you can grow the smallest of spaces.
Small Space Gardening Ideas
A lot of people think that you can’t grow food unless you have a large yard or farm. But with some small space gardening ideas, you’ll be able to grow food right where you are!
Many of the below tips are based on permaculture principles and for a great reason — it works!
Permaculture gardening aims to reduce the amount of work it takes to grow food and improve sustainability by creating systems that resemble nature.
Since beginning to learn about permaculture I’ve found gardening to be much easier and to produce much more per square foot. Learn the basics of permaculture for free.
Succession planting is an excellent gardening technique for both small or large spaces. When performed correctly, succession planting can dramatically increase the amount of produce your garden creates.
One way to use succession planting is to rotate crops. Get the most out of a small garden by rotating in new plants throughout the growing season.
For example, you could start the season by growing peas, spinach, green onion sets or carrots in a small plot or raised bed.
As the temperatures warm and you’ve collected all the produce you want from your starter plants, remove them and put something new there that will do well in warmer temperatures like tomatoes, zucchini, or cucumbers.
This method of succession planting is how some gardeners grow a variety of fruits and vegetables on a single, small plot of land.
Try organizing your garden plots by planning a spring, summer and fall garden to rotate in seasonal produce.
Companion planting is the practice of growing specific plants close together because they benefit one another in some way. There are countless combinations of plants that pair well together (and some that don’t).
One of my favorite examples of this is growing tomatoes next to basil. Not only do tomatoes and basil pair well together in the kitchen, but they grow well together in the garden, too.
Basil is thought to improve the flavor of tomatoes grown nearby. Plus it’s aromatic, repelling pests like hornworms that like to devour tomato plants.
I like to use plants as living mulch with other plants when possible. Living mulch is simply a plant that covers the soil so nothing else will grow there.
Low growing, shade-tolerant plants are what you want for living mulch. Root vegetables fit this description as do many greens.
Anyone can use companion planting to enhance their garden’s harvest. This method works great in container gardens, too.
There are many benefits to growing fruits, vegetables, and herbs in containers, in addition to saving space. Container gardens:
- Are easy to care for and make a great place to start for beginners.
- Are portable—you can move your plants around so that they get adequate sun and rain.
- Make it less likely that critters (like rabbits, deer and squirrels) will eat your plants when they are kept closer to the house.
When I lived in apartments, container gardening was my go-to option for growing my own food. Even though I have land for a larger garden now, I still find myself growing plants in containers to reap these benefits.
Growing plants indoors is another option for space-savers. An indoor garden can be as elaborate or simple as you’d like it to be.
A few things to think about when planning to grow food indoors include:
- Temperature and humidity
- Containers and location
Whether you have a warm, sunny windowsill herb garden or use grow lights to produce leafy vegetables, tomatoes and more, indoor gardening can be very rewarding.
A vertical garden is easy to maintain inside or outside, and they are especially popular for growing herbs, leafy greens, vining plants like cucumbers and even root vegetables.
If you decide to build a vertical gardening trellis, here are a few things to consider:
- Don’t make your trellis too tall—it’ll become challenging to manage.
- Remember that your trellis will need to be strong enough to hold planters, soil, fruits and a regular dose of water.
- Make sure your vertical garden gets enough sunshine.
Vertical gardening is a unique small space option. City dwellers and apartment homesteaders may find this method perfect for a rooftop or balcony garden.
Over the years, I’ve used each of these small space gardening ideas to grow my own food. And each one has taught me something new about growing my own food.
How to Care for a Small Garden
Because you’re growing more food in a smaller space (which can drain resources), it’s important to make sure your garden is healthy.
But learning how to optimize the health of your garden is a great skill to learn for any size plot. Here’s what you need to know:
Whether you grow your own food in containers or directly in the ground, watering your plants will need to become routine. As you plan out your garden, consider how much water various vegetables require and plant these together.
In general, a good soaking once a week is enough for most vegetables. But, container gardens will dry out more quickly. Decide on a watering routine and stick with it.
Reduce drying out by making sure there is lots of organic material in the soil and using mulch or living mulch to retain water.
Growing plants close together can also cause more pest problems if you’re not careful. Make sure you vary the plants you’re growing (plant a variety of plants in a bed versus filling a bed with one thing).
You should also make sure you have healthy soil that is full of organic material. And don’t feel bad about culling a plant that is unhealthy, because they may attract pests. Attracting beneficial insects, birds, and other animals is a great plan too.
If I do have pests I use these homemade pest sprays. They can help deal with a pest problem, and I don’t have to worry about chemicals being on the food I feed my family.
Feeding the Soil
As you probably have gathered already, healthy soil is the key to having a successful garden. Using manure tea and compost are my favorite ways to feed the soil and ensure my plants grow tall and healthy when I’m gardening in small spaces.
With a container garden, a little compost goes a long way. However, for small garden plots with vegetables planted close together, you may need to add extra compost or fertilize with a manure tea more often.
Especially early in the season, giving a little extra fertilizer to your sprouts will encourage them to shoot up. Avoid overfeeding your plants as they mature. Taking in more nitrogen later in the season may stunt their fruit production.
You don’t have to be an expert in gardening to enjoy homegrown produce. With a little planning and ironing out the details of what you will grow and how, you will be harvesting colorful fruits and vegetables in no time.
Abundant Small Space Gardening
Small space gardening will teach you a great deal about plants and growing your own food.
Whether you dream of owning land someday to grow a large garden or prefer to keep your small garden going for years to come, there are plenty of homesteading skills you can learn along the way.
Simply start small and see where these small space gardening ideas take you!
More Gardening Resources
Are you looking for more resources on growing an abundant garden (with as little work as possible)? Check out these blog posts:
- Organic Gardening 101
- Permaculture Gardening for Beginners
- Composting 5 Ways
- How to Build Raised Beds
- Best Vegetables to Grow for Beginners
And if you’re ready to jump in with a guided plan for your homestead, join Our Inspired Roots Academy where you will learn how to grow and preserve food as well as homestead management and other important topics (all from a permaculture perspective!!).
Have you tried these gardening methods before? What has worked best for you with limited growing space?