Vegetable gardening has never been so popular, whether it’s for economic reasons or because of awareness of the local slow food movements. For those without any extra land to spare, gardening in small spaces, or space-efficient gardening, has become a necessity. It goes by a variety of names (raised-bed gardening, intensive gardening, square foot gardening, block style gardening, close-row gardening, wide-row gardening, and vertical gardening); but whatever the name, the trick is to eliminate unnecessary walkways by planting vegetables in rectangular-shaped beds or blocks instead of long single rows. For five tips to get started with efficiently gardening in small spaces, watch the slideshow below.
Build a raised bed
Don’t think you have enough space to grow your own veggies? Think again. Raised-bed gardening allows you to concentrate soil preparation in a small area, resulting in the efficient use of soil amendments and an ideal environment for vegetable growth. Construct the frames out of wood, stone, brick or concrete block to give your raised beds a border and to hold an organically rich soil in place. You can also create free-standing mounded beds to your desired width and length. Such space-efficient gardening can increase yields five-fold compared to the traditional row-style garden and 15-fold for smaller kitchen garden vegetables.
Raised beds provide many advantages. They look neat and tidy (fewer weeds!) and make it easy to add drip irrigation and protective features. An ideal width of a framed raised bed is 4 feet if it is free-standing and accessible from all sides. If you locate your bed up against a wall, such as the side of your house, and can only access it from one side, don’t make beds any wider than 2 feet for easy access to all the plants. The height of a raised bed should be at least 6 inches. Deep-root crops such as carrots, potatoes and leeks do well when they have a growing depth of 12 inches.