Most people tend to picture vegetable gardens as sprawling plots of land with rows stretching 15 feet or more. Growing vegetables in a container or limited space seems foreign to many.
It’s not only possible, however, it can be highly rewarding as well. You can do all kinds of things – grow tomatoes in pots on the patio, beans on a trellis on an apartment balcony, or watermelons along the side of your driveway, for example.
A space no larger than a card table can supply you with vegetables year-round. The trick is to create a garden that has the right growing conditions and to buy seeds that are well suited to smaller areas.
A lot of seed suppliers have started to offer miniature plants to meet the needs of people with limited space. They’re often in categories like midgets or space savers in their catalogs.
Growing vegetables in a smaller space is different from growing other things in the same space. Plants like rhododendrons, heathers or miniature bulbs are grown mainly for their appearance. They’re merely decorative.
Vegetables are grown not to reward the eye so much as the taste buds. So while you might find corn stalks and bean bushes in the average vegetable garden, they’re not a common sight in a well designed landscape garden.
The biggest challenge with a small vegetable garden is practicality. Some vegetables such as lettuce will grow fine with only 4 hours of sunlight a day, but anything that produces a fruit (tomatoes, corn, beans, etc.) needs a solid 8 hours of direct sunlight or they aren’t going to be very productive. That sunlight isn’t necessary for dwarf azaleas, however.
A proper soil mix is also important, along with the right fertilizer. It can be too much for some dwarf plants, however and can make them grow beyond the space they’re given. Plus, you need to turn the soil in your vegetable garden annually. This kind of tilling can’t be done in some small spaces.
Growing small vegetables is a worthwhile challenge, however. You’ll need to decide whether you want the fruit to be miniature as well, or only the plant that produces it. Miniature vegetables are a cute novelty, but they’re really not that practical. However there are some that are widely accepted, such as cherry tomatoes and radishes.