Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Maximizing Garden Space Without Losing Your Yard
We have a small yard in the middle of town. We dedicated one plot to the vegetable garden and one section to the clothesline, but if we till up much more soil, there won't be any room for the Littles to play! We have to be creative in how we use our space. One of the ways we do that is by using containers. This year I am trying to grow greens in containers. Lettuce, spinach, kale, etc... have very shallow roots and do not need very deep soil. I like using the containers because I can move them around depending upon the weather. All of these are cool weather crops, and since the weather is still not very warm here, I keep them in a nice sunny spot on the western side of the house so they can get well-established. As we get into the hot, hot days of summer, I will move them to a shadier, cooler spot in hopes that they will extend their season a bit. I only planted half of the seeds I bought, so as they wither, which will probably happen in July, I will plant new seeds for a batch of fall lettuce. We are also considering building a cold frame against the western side of the house so we can get greens and lettuces into the winter. I'll have to let everyone know how that goes this fall.
If you need a source for cheap containers, try going to a nursery and asking if you can buy some old tree buckets. Actually, first ask if they will give you some, can't hurt, right? I think we paid $1 each for these.
Just up: our baby peas!
Another way we maximize our food growing space is by going vertical and using the fence line. This isn't prime play space, so it works well for growing some extra food. We dug up about 2 feet of soil along the fence where I like to plant crops that need extra support. Last year this is where we grew some tomatoes, this year, we planted peas, and I think next year we'll plant the pole beans there. Speaking of which, if you are a beginning gardener, you may not realize that it is important to rotate your crops. A three year rotation is really best, but if your space is limited, at least do a two year rotation. Rotating crops helps control insects and disease. Keep in mind that this applies to families of plants. Tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes and peppers are all in the same family and should not follow one another. Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and other greens are all in a different family. It adds an extra challenging element to planning your garden, but if you think of it like a jigsaw puzzle, it can be fun!
Going vertical is great for creating more space in your garden, but watch how the plants shade one another. You don't want your taller plants to block all of the sun for the shorter ones. Just another piece of the puzzle!
Herb and flower garden two weeks ago.
Herb and flower garden now.
Look how much this little plot has grown in two weeks! Astonishing! The parsley is really taking over! I've been using it a lot in my cooking, but I am also happy because it attracts the butterfly caterpillars. I love that I have the garden space to dabble in growing some flowers now.
Linked at Frugal Gardening 101.