Small Vegetable Garden Ideas ~ Gardening in Small Spaces

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One of the biggest misconceptions about gardening is that you need a lot of land. In fact, you can grow a nice vegetable garden in any size area. These small vegetable garden ideas will help you make the most of your space so that you can enjoy a great garden this year, no matter what your square footage!

These small vegetable garden ideas will help you make the most of your space so that you can enjoy a great garden this year, no matter what your square footage! #smallgarden #gardening #vegetablegarden #garden

Small Vegetable Garden Ideas

Enjoy this guest post from Rachel today! ~Merissa

When it comes to gardening in small spaces, you want to make the most out of every space you have. One of the best ways to do that is to plan ahead what, when and where you will plant everything. When you are choosing seeds and plants, make sure to consider the likes and needs of your family. You want to avoid overplanting items that your family will not enjoy and you may want to plant more of items that you can easily preserve.

We have what most people would consider a small garden. It is only about 17×30 feet. But we like to pack it full of produce to provide for our family!

— Learn more about Starting Garden Plants From Seed; Growing Your Own Plant Starts.

planting seeds

There are lots of other things to consider while planning your garden to make the most of your small space. Below are some ways we’ve made the most with our own small garden. As you plan, hopefully, this will give you some ideas to reap a big harvest from your little space.

small garden plan

Grow up rather than out.

Plants that run like cucumbers, beans, melons, even certain varieties of squash that climb will take up a lot less room if you provide them a place to grow up rather than out.

One of the things we did was put a fence around the entire garden. That way, we can plant climbing vines, such as peas and cucumbers around the edge of the garden, so they don’t take up space in the middle. (It’s also a great way to protect all of your hard work from animals!)

This year we planted the peas on the outside of the fence so we don’t accidentally kick or step on them while we weed the other garden beds. If you can’t fence your garden, you can use a small trellis or create a place for them to climb up with a few stakes and some gardening twine.

Climbing plants

Leave space for walking.

Take time to plan where your vegetables will go and also how you will be able to get to them. Packing your garden full doesn’t do any good if you have to trample over your plants to get to care for them or harvest them.

We divided the garden into 4×6 and 6×6 foot beds. They aren’t exactly ‘raised beds’, but my husband did build some frames out of 1 inch thick wood to keep the beds contained and the walking paths defined.

—If you don’t have room for garden beds, check out this post on Growing Vegetables in Pots.

vegetable garden

Fill your spaces.

Within your beds, you can plant pretty aggressively since you don’t have to leave room for walking. This works especially well with plants such as beets and bush beans.

We planted beans on a diagonal grid, so each seed is about 4 inches away from the others. This way, when the beans grow, they are close enough together to help support each other. (Also, they shade the entire bed, so that the weeds don’t grow! )

garden spacing

I would definitely recommend planting beans this way, even if you do not plant in beds. If you plant in rows, make your rows 1, 2 or even up to 4 feet wide. You will get so much more out of your space! Last year we had two 4×6 beds of beans, and they produced so well, that I froze about 2 quarts of beans every other day, besides what we ate, for several weeks!

The same thing goes with beets, carrots, radishes, etc. My husband planted the beets this year, and he planted them fairly thickly in rows about 4 inches apart. He figured he planted the equivalent of a 72 foot row in a 4×6 bed! When they get a little bigger, I will thin some of them out, and eat them in salads. Then, when they are bigger yet, I will thin them some more and eat them as baby beets and greens. What’s left will be in a diagonal grid like the beans, to grow into big beets to freeze or can!

garden bed

Consider the type of plant you are planting.

Be mindful of the type and placement of your plants for small vegetable gardens. If you are planting something tall, will it create a shady area? If so, plan for that space! Shady, cool spots can make a great environment to keep winter crops, such as lettuce, broccoli or cabbage growing a little while beyond their typical growing season.

If you are planting something that spreads easily, like mint, consider planting it in a smaller, contained space so that it won’t overtake your beds.

—Learn more about Growing an Herb Garden.

You can also plan to take advantage of your small space by companion planting. Plan to plant items with other plants that will feed the soil with the nutrients they need to get the most out of your small vegetable garden.

garden irrigation

Take care of your garden.

To make the most out of your small space, make sure you have a plan for watering and caring for your plants to ensure they stay healthy and happy. My husband built a watering system so that each individual bed gets water, and we don’t waste as much water.

You will also want to consider things like fertilizer, pest control, and harvesting. There are certain ways and times you can prune and harvest your food so that your plants will produce even more. Do your research ahead of time so that you will be ready to give your small garden the best chance.

—Avoid toxic chemicals that can harm your plants with Homemade Weed Killer (10 Different Ideas!)

Hopefully, this has given you some small space vegetable garden ideas! Happy gardening!

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gardening and preserving journal

If you are gardening or planning on doing any preserving this year, you NEED this wonderful spiral bound journal! This journal was designed with the busy, but wants-to-be-organized person in mind! It is the perfect way to keep track of your gardening plans, seeds, food inventory, recipes, and harvest.
Get your own copy here.

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Need more gardening ideas? Here are some to take a look at!

Do you have a small vegetable garden? What tricks do you use to make the most of your space?

Do you have a recipe or article to share? Send Merissa Your Best Tips and you could be published!

This article on small vegetable garden ideas was originally published on Little House Living in April 2011. It has been updated as of March 2020.

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  1. This is the most helpful article! Our garden size is almost identical to yours – ours will be 20×30. Thank you so much! I am so excited and thank you Merissa for this great post! You’re amazing! 🙂

      1. Oops I meant to say your sister in law. Thanks though for letting her put such helpful information on there. Thanks, Rachel!

        1. You’re welcome Charity! I’m glad it inspired you! I love this time of year when gardening is so exciting!

      1. Yes, I did mean green beans…sorry I didn’t specify! We raised Contender and Blue Lake varieties last year and found that the Contenders did much better in our area, so that’s what we planted this year.

  2. How does your watering system work? How is it laid out to benefit all the beds? Do you mulch on top of planted beds to reduce weeds and maintain moisture? Thanks!

    1. I’m not sure how Rachel’s watering system works but I plan on doing some detailed posts in the future about my watering system and our raised rows system.

    2. mxgal, I am working on a post on my blog where my husband will explain the watering system in our garden. It should be at within a couple days! And, yes, we do mulch where we can…it helps alot! Sorry I didn’t reply sooner, we have been camping this weekend!

  3. You have mentioned some real inspiration here for gardening in small spaces. Thanks for sharing a great piece of information!

  4. This was a wonderful post with a great selection of ideas. I really enjoyed the types of gardening ways you have discussed. Thank you for the post.