We’re known around these parts for being the go-to spot for all things organic gardening, homesteading and farming. It only seems right that we would have our very own organic vegetable garden right here at the store.
Like most retail stores, we don’t have a ton of space to dedicate to a vegetable garden. Thankfully, an organic vegetable garden can be planted in the smallest of spaces. In our case, planted in a small and awkward space.
Our demo garden of organic fruits, vegetables, herbs and ornamental plants sits right along the sidewalk hugging busy Highway 9 in Ben Lomond, California. The plot of dirt we have for our garden is roughly 75′ long and 5′ deep. We also have a fence along the length of the garden, which we use for space-saving vertical gardening, making the most of our growing area.
You too can grow an organic urban garden nearly anywhere. With a few tips and tricks from our organic gardening expert, David, you’ll be well on your way! We’ve seen awesomely functional urban gardens everywhere from fire-escapes, to rooftops, to side-yard aisles only a few feet wide.
Don’t be discouraged if you have limited space, these tips and tricks will allow you to…
We were skeptical of planting in such a small space, but now our small garden produces more food than we ever thought possible. Our demo garden started with a few carefully tended rows of vegetables and ornamental plants.
Most recently David has taken over stewardship of the little plot and it has blossomed. Carefully planting small amounts of vegetables, fruits and herbs mixed in with ornamental plants, he has created a beautiful example of the success one can have with a small garden.
We utilize every nook and cranny of the patch of dirt along the highway including the fence line. Dave’s philosophy for the demo garden is simple...
We want to showcase the quantity and variety that an individual or family can get from a small garden space.
Even if you only have a 5′ square plot you can follow his example and have a productive and beautiful vegetable garden. So here are David’s 7 small garden tips to maximize variety, yield and satisfaction. You can find all the tools and knowledge you need to get all this stuff done in our in-store departments.
To make the most of our space we use the fence as a trellis. An espalier apple tree, climbing green beans, cucumbers, nasturtium, raspberry cane and a sprawling grape vine call the fence home. These plants grow upwards using the fence as support.
They shade more delicate plants planted below them and take up very little ground. Trellising, staking or caging other plants so they grow upright also saves space. Dave grew 3 varieties of tomato in one large tomato cage this year which resulted is a gigantic tower of tomatoes!
Planting small amounts of different plants in groupings based on their water and feeding needs, we can harvest a wide variety of produce from just a 3′ by 3′ portion of the garden at a time.
If you have a small space, plant one squash instead of two, a handful of carrot seeds instead of the whole packet and so on. Also, staggering your planting will give you produce that is ready to harvest at different times during the growing season and you won’t end up with waste from over planting an area all at once. Of course you can always preserve, pickle, or can your surplus produce.
These type of greens and vegetables are a good idea in a small space because they can be harvested over a long period of time, one leaf or bunch at a time. This is another tip that allows you to maximize ground space while also being able to harvest from one area of the garden throughout the season.
TIP: planting herbs mixed in with your vegetables will add a culinary benefit and beauty.
Special attention needs to be paid when watering plants in a small garden space. Not every fruit or vegetable has the same water and feeding requirements. Planting things together that have similar requirements allows you to water just that area when it’s needed and not the entire space.
For example, tomato plants do not require the same amount of water as newly sewn carrots and beets. Too much water can hurt your tomato plant while the seeds and seedlings need frequent watering.
Feeding is similar. Our nursery team uses a special formula of amendments as a top-dress about once a month. We feed each plant an amount based on its size. Even if you have a drip irrigation system, we recommend hand watering as well once a week to specific areas.
Rather than bring in bagged soil or heavily amend the soil in the demo garden, Dave regularly top-dresses, mulches and weeds to help build the soil fertility over time. He also uses a pick or hoe to break up the harder ground and get oxygen to the plants roots.
When he first puts a plant start or seeds in the ground, he adds a layer of compost to give the new plants a boost of nutrients and mulches with straw or Gardener & Bloom Compost. Dave uses Angus’s top-dress recipe (see below) to regularly feed the garden but with less worm castings than the recipe calls for. He does this because the garden is planted in native soil, not bought-soil so the biology of that soil is already actively working.
Now that we are well into summer Dave is harvesting from the demo garden EVERY day. Even on his days off. And, we all occasionally stop as we pass and pick a handful of raspberries or a ripe tomato.
That is the benefit of staggering your planting and not planting too much of one thing. Having a variety of plants gives us the ability to literally cook straight from the demo garden.
For example, last week, Dave made salsa and a delicious salad all with ingredients directly from the demo garden. The moral of the story is, you can have a productive, beautiful vegetable garden with a large variety of food producing plants in a very small amount of space.
Even a variety of containers on a patio or deck can produce a huge amount of food for your family and bring enjoyment at the same time. Get out in the garden and try it! And come say hi to Dave when you are here.
This recipe makes enough top-dress fertilizer for one (1) 12′ X 12′ garden bed…
It’s part of our mission here at Mountain Feed to help you make delicious, sustainable, homemade food, more often. Stop by and say hello on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. Or, as always, you can do it the old fashioned way and come by the store to speak with one of our in-house experts.
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