To say that I love to garden is putting it mildly. Even before I had my very own garden, I knew in my heart that I NEEDED one. I have spoken to so many people who tell me they would like to have a garden, but just don’t have the space. For folks living in an apartment or a house with no yard at all, that is probably the case. But if you have a yard, and a burning desire to have a garden, I am here to tell you that, with a little creative thinking, you can find a way. The reason I am writing this blog is not only to share what I have learned about gardening in general, but also to talk about how to get the most out of a garden in a small space.
I guess the best place to start, is to tell you how my own little garden came to be.
A little over a decade ago, after years of living in apartments with only a plant or two in a pot on the balcony, I moved into my cute little house and set about starting a vegetable garden. Unfortunately, my backyard is very small and most of it is graded for drainage, and therefore I figured it was not suitable for gardening. Whatever was a budding gardener to do? I decided containers were the way to go, so I started with these wonderful sheep troughs I found at a local feed store, a galvanized tub, and a few other random containers.
They served me fine for a few years, and I learned a lot about growing vegetables, but it just wasn’t enough. Soon my need for a full fledged garden motivated me to find a way to squeeze an in-ground garden into my tiny backyard. There really was only one option – the area immediately surrounding my back patio. Five feet wide, and wrapping the approximately fifty feet around the perimeter of the patio, this new garden would give me about two hundred square feet of planting space. Not the vast garden of my dreams, but it would have to do. Even with its small size, installing this new garden was a lot of work for me and my Todd.
After marking off the area, Todd fired up our rented tiller and turned that stretch of grass into a pile of dirt.
One of the big issues of an in-ground garden in my little patch of Texas, is that the ground is entirely clay: not conducive AT ALL for happy plant growth.
That meant adding in lots and lots of soil amendments like compost, sand, lava sand and Texas greensand. The goal in my choice of amendments was to turn the hard clay into a loose, delicious concoction full of nutrients my new plants would love.
We had to go over the area several times to get it nicely mixed in, but we knew the plants were going to appreciate all that tasty stuff.
Here is what it looked like when we were all done, but before I started planting. I know it doesn’t look like much, but with creative use of vertical supports, I have turned this small space into a garden that produces plenty for my small household.
In the following two pictures, you can see what my garden looks like today.
(In future posts I will talk in detail about all my vertical supports)
Growing in this garden right now, I have two kinds of string beans, six kinds of peppers, eggplant, zucchini, okra, nine kinds of tomatoes, sunflowers, cucumbers, cantaloupe, watermelon, madga squash, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, beets, chard, blackberries, strawberries, acorn squash, onions, soybeans, lentils, and all kinds of herbs. That is a whole lot of produce packed in a tiny garden.
So please trust me…if you only have a tiny space, but you really want a garden, there is a way, you just have to get creative and find it.