There are so many different ways to garden if space is limited. You can grow vertically, in a container, indoors, or on a windowsill. The options are endless! As I am completely new to the whole idea of gardening, and being “outdoorsy” in general, I wanted to find the simplest small space gardening idea that is not overpowering and actually enjoyable. Raised bed gardening was my answer. When I tell you this is a simple project I mean it. The closest I’ve come to gardening is picking my mother’s cherry tomatoes, so we’re taking baby steps here…
As a beginner, raised bed gardening seems destined to become part of the “Gardening for Dummies” handbook. First things first, you’ll need to build a raised bed, or purchase one. For the sake of ease, I’m clearly going to be purchasing one. My family has Gronomics products in our yard, and they seem so inviting to a novice; everything is in a neat, little area. You just set it up and bam, you’re ready to start planting!
A raised bed garden sits on top of native soil, giving you a head start already because the gardener has control over the soil and what they put into it. I like the idea of starting with a 4×4 raised bed. This is the perfect product for your small space, and it’s manageable, although there are tons of size options. One can easily access the bed by walking it’s perimeter. So, let’s get started!
1. Choose the type of frame for your raised bed. I recommend the Gronomics Cedar Garden Bed in 4×4 (Choose a bed that suits your space and needs. You can also make your own by following a simple online tutorial that walks you through the building process).
2. Pick the soil! The experts that I asked highly recommended Coast of Maine Lobster Compost. It is a very popular item and great for vegetable gardens. It’s chitin-rich and blended with peat humus (darker and finer texture than peat moss) and compost which make it perfect for conditioning a garden bed for planting vegetables.
3. Create a grid. With a 4×4, you will have 4 boxes across and 4 boxes down. Each plant will have its own box. It’s very important to think in boxes, not in rows. Plants need to be spaced properly so they can reach their full size. Thinking in boxes will allow your plant enough room to grow and not be hindered by tight spacing.
4. Now it’s time to plant. Here is a suggested sample of 10 varieties of plants. Feel free to plant what you like. 1 tomato plant in 4 squares, 1 bell pepper in 1 square, 1 eggplant in 1 square, 1 bush of zucchini in 4 squares, 9 bush beans in 1 square, 16 radishes in 1 square, 4 lettuces in 1 square, 4 swiss chard in 1 square, 16 carrots in 1 square and 1 basil in 1 square.
Even in small spaces, gardens require some maintenance. There are three vital things to keep in mind: Staking, Watering, and Weeding. Some plants, like tomatoes, need extra support and require a stake or cage to keep them tall and strong. Weeding is the most demanding task as weeds can and will grow as tall as your plants, if not kept under control, and will steal light, water, and important nutrients from your vegetables. It’s best to get rid of weeds when they are new and small and have not established themselves. A hoe can be helpful and make your job a little easier. Water is also vital to your garden’s success. How often you water depends on rainfall, what types of plants you have, and how hot and sunny it is or has been. If a plant is wilted early in the morning, it needs to be watered. Check your garden daily to see how things look and you’ll get into a good habit of watering when necessary. While you are out there checking on what needs watering, also take a look at signs of disease or pest issues. There are loads of products available for every issue your garden may present.
And there you have it. All you have to do now is sit back and wait for your harvest to take off. You don’t need the space or the talent to grow your own food. So get out there all you urban dwellers, fresh vegetables are only a small space away!