›› Kayla Siefried

Recently I was reading a newsletter from a gardening teacher, author, and writer that I’ve been following for years, and I found his tips about “small space gardening hacks” really useful. Perhaps you are a renter like me and have a limited ability to modify the landscape around you or maybe you have a small yard or no yard at all; Steven Biggs’s tips are fantastic for maximizing your harvest out of a small garden. I’ve had plenty of experience small-space gardening as a renter and urban dweller, and so I offer you some insight here into ways to maximize that space:

  1. Plant things closer together then the package says—if you’ve been ­amending your soil with plenty of compost, chances are good that the soil can handle lettuces and beets that are closer together, and you can thin and eat them as you go.
  2. Plant fast growing crops closely with slower growing crops. For example, plant radishes which grow quickly closely with carrots that grow slower. The radishes will be harvested by the time the carrots need more space to mature. You could do the same with a canopy of tomatoes and some low light lettuces underneath.
  3. Plan for successions; have no soil without edible crops growing! For example, grow quick growing lettuces in the bed where you plan to plant out your tomatoes in mid-May. You can even plant tomato transplants into that bed while the lettuces are still there.
  4. Grow in containers. That extra driveway space might be prime tomato growing zone!
  5. Grow vertical! Set up trellises or grow along house walls, up railings and fences. Choose vegetable varieties that are climbers (peas, beans, winter squash, and cucumbers all come to mind here). You could even train climbing veggies to climb up onto a roof or into a tree!
  6. Pathways take up a lot of space. ­Consider if your pathways could be smaller or if by growing in blocks (i.e. broadcasting seed) rather than in rows, you could expand the useable growing space.

For more knowledge about gardening, check out the Compost Education Centre’s variety of composting, waste reduction, gardening, and food workshops.