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Do you only have space for a tiny apartment garden, but want to harvest as much edible food as possible?
You may be wondering: “How do you grow tons of vegetables in small spaces like a tiny backyard, patio, balcony, or rooftop garden?”
The short answer is:
The secret is to maximize your space in order to get your little garden to produce continuously. And the secret to a continuous harvest is timing.
When you think about you dream garden, you tend to imagine it producing a continuous and abundant supply of fresh produce over an extended period of time. You like to think of baskets full of juicy tomatoes, peppers, radishes, carrots or different lettuces to harvest month after month.
Timing and strategic planning is SUPER important in getting the most out of your garden. Many enthusiastic gardeners have found themselves with heaps of veggies ready for harvest all at once, and nothing soon after the main harvest has been had.
The problem is, if you plant everything at once, your harvest won’t be long and continuous but short and overwhelming!
But by following a few simple strategies, you can achieve a sustained harvest even from the smallest of apartment, patio, or backyard gardens.
By following these 6 tips you can have an abundance of fresh herbs, veggies and greens all summer long:
1. Succession Planting to Grow Tons of Vegetables in Small Spaces
For fresh vegetables and herbs you know you’ll use frequently, you’ll want to avoid planting a whole batch all at once! Instead, you’ll need to do what is known as succession planting.
Start by planting a smaller crop, and re-plant more every few weeks or so — here’s a handy chart for figuring out how long to wait between successive rounds for various veggies. That way, there will always be something maturing and providing a continual harvest over a longer time period instead of all at once.
Pro Tip: Keep track of what you’ve planted and when, by recording the dates you planted each successive crop in a small notebook.
2. Start Seeds Indoors to Get a Head Start
Some plants do best when planted directly into the ground, while others prefer the method of being started early indoors and transplanted outside when the weather warms up.
Starting seedlings indoors can give you a head start, and you’ll have plants producing much earlier than if you had waited until your local last frost date.
This kills two birds with one stone, so to speak, if you have cool weather crops to replace at the end of the spring season. You’ll have small plants ready to replace your expired cool weather crops (like peas, arugula, or radishes), resulting in a faster turnaround and increased production.
To get your seeds started early indoors you’re going to need a grow light setup.
I use this Sunblaster Grow Light Garden to start my seeds indoors in early spring. It’s nice and compact, and will provide full-spectrum light to your little seedlings so they grow up strong and healthy.
I also use it to grow lots of fresh herbs and greens indoors during the long winter months when it’s too cold to grow anything outside. It is definitely one of my favorite purchases!
If you have limited indoor space I recommend the Sunblaster Micro Grow Light Garden. It’s the small version of the one I use and linked to above and will do the job just as well.
3. Grow Plants That Produce Continually
Vegetables in the “continual production” category keep producing many crops throughout the season, often until frost kills them in the fall.
In a small space garden, it’s a smart idea to grow both continual producers and fast growing one-time producers to gain the maximum amount of production from your garden.
Fast one-time producers like radishes only take about 30 days to mature and be ready for harvest. Plus, they’re small and compact and take up minimal space in your garden.
Slow growing one-time producers like onions on the other hand, will take up most of the summer to mature and produce — which isn’t a very efficient use of your limited space.
4. Companion Planting Vegetables in Small Spaces
In general, most people practice companion planting to make use of the beneficial relationships between different plants. For example, basil is often planted alongside tomatoes because it repels the tomato hornworm and is said to improve the tomatoes’ taste.
Companion planting can also work to increase the efficiency of your use of garden space as well as time.
Because of this, the two can be planted together quite closely because the radishes will mature and can be harvested long before the carrots get big enough to feel crowded.
5. Use a Cold Frame or Mini Greenhouse
Having a shelter for your plants will allow you to extend your growing season considerably, and thus, increase production in your garden.
A greenhouse or cold frame will allow you to start growing things earlier in the spring and later in the fall — if you have the space for one. This means you could be harvesting edibles at any time of the year!
Here’s a great affordable little greenhouse that you can easily fit on your patio or balcony.
Looking for a cold frame? Here’s a nice compact cold frame that will easily fit in your small space.
6. Experiment With New Crops
Experimenting with growing new crops one of the most fun and exciting parts of gardening! There is always something to learn, and you’ll be surprised by what you discover when growing new crops.
It takes some trial and error to get the hang of growing something new, so if you have space it is a great idea to keep a container or two for experimental planting.
Here’s a personal story:
I never liked peas growing up, but one spring I decided to plant a few sugar snap peas in my garden, just for the heck of it. When I tasted the first peas I harvested I almost had my mind blown — they were SO good! Fresh sugar snap peas are now one of my absolute favorite veggies to eat straight out of the garden.
Who knows — you might find a new favorite vegetable or variety this way! This can provide you with new and exciting things to mix in with your old favorites from the garden.