How to Plan a Small Vegetable Garden


Crispy lettuce, cool cucumbers and juicy tomatoes from your garden are not the exclusive province of people with big yards. If you only have a small corner of your property that you can devote to a garden, you can still raise enough vegetables to feed your family all summer. Experienced small-space gardeners have developed methods for growing more produce in less space. With some planning and innovative thinking, you can create a garden that produces a surprising amount of food in a small space.

Step 1

List all of the vegetables that your family eats on a regular basis. Small space gardens use every available inch, so concentrate on the foods that you will eat the most often.

Step 2

Research seed catalogs to find versions of your favorite vegetables that are grown for small spaces. Varieties advertised for container gardens are generally smaller plants that produce normal-sized crops of food. Look for small plants like Patio Hybrid or Tiny Tim tomatoes, Salad Bush or Spacemaster cucumbers or Lady Bell peppers.

Step 3

Think in three dimensions. Plan on growing pole beans instead of bush beans. Anything that can be grown up a fence or trellis will take up less room than a bushy cousin. This will give you more planting space on the ground in which to put more seeds and seedlings.

Step 4

Find out the planting distance between seeds for each variety of plant that you are planning to grow. This will determine the number of plants that you can fit into your garden space. Carrots generally only need about 3 inches of space, so you can put 16 of them in each square foot of garden plot. Peppers take up more room, so only plan on one pepper plant per foot.

Step 5

Draw an outline of your garden plot on graph paper, with four grids on the paper for one foot of space. Make colored dots in each square foot to designate where you will plant each seed.

Step 6

Interplant quicker growing plants with slower growing varieties. Carrots usually take two or three weeks before they have any significant size. The soil in between carrots can grow a crop of radishes before the carrots need the room. Place quick-growing leaf lettuce around slower tomatoes and you'll be done with the lettuce before the tomatoes need the sunlight.

Step 7

Plant a succession of seeds according to the season. Lettuces and radishes do well in the cool spring. By the time hot summer weather comes, peppers and cucumbers will want more room in the garden. After the warm weather crops have finished producing, plant another batch of cool weather veggies to get more growing time at the end of the season.

Things You'll Need

  • Seed catalogs
  • Graph paper
  • Colored pencils


  • Iowa State University: Small Plot Vegetable Gardening
  • JourneyToForever: Building a Square Foot Garden
Keywords: small space garden, plan small garden, small vegetable plot

About this Author

Anne Baley is a writer and photographer living in Southeast Michigan. She has written dozens of articles about places she has discovered while traveling throughout the United States. Baley's work has appeared in a variety of online outlets, including EndlessSunday, GardenGuides and Travels.