How To Start a Small Vegetable Garden


Having fresh, more flavorful vegetables for your table and the enjoyment of a relaxing outdoor hobby are among the benefits of planting a vegetable garden. Whether you have a 30-square-foot backyard garden or a half-acre under cultivation, you still have the satisfaction of growing something. A smaller vegetable garden requires careful planning to maximize the amount of fruit the garden produces. Some vegetables, too, are better suited to small spaces.

Step 1

Inventory your available space. Go out to your yard and consider the choices of where to place your vegetable garden. Be creative. It doesn't have to be a standalone garden in a rectangular shape. You could intermix vegetables in your flower beds. You could have several small garden spaces tucked against the walls of your property.

Step 2

Decide on your favorite vegetables. Think about the vegetables you use in everyday cooking and the vegetables you and your family enjoy. Make sure you include these in your garden plan.

Step 3

Study seed packages. Visit a nursery or garden center and read the planting instructions for the vegetable seeds. Choose vegetables that can be planted closer together. Beets need only 8 inches between rows. Rows of carrots can be spaced 6 inches apart.

Step 4

Use vertical space. Choose tall and narrow plants, rather than short, broad ones. Peas climb up stakes or trellises. Avoid plants that have a lot of foliage but smaller fruit relative to the size of the plant, such as artichokes. Select plants that are bushy rather than spreading horizontally. Bush beans are ideal for a small garden space.

Step 5

Plant squash and melons at the far edge. These plants consume a large amount of garden space because they spread so rapidly. Train these vines to grow outside the garden border on an unused area such as a walkway. In a raised garden, they can grow over the edge and down.

Tips and Warnings

  • Having good quality soil is important in any garden. In a small space, though, it's critical to have uniformly rich soil so all plants can thrive. Dig 10 to 12 inches down and thoroughly turn the soil, breaking up compacted areas to improve drainage. Adding compost or other organic material to the soil increases its nutrient levels.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Vegetable plants or seeds
  • Fertilizer
  • Stakes or trellises


  • "Burpee Complete Gardener"; Maureen Heffernan et al; 1995
Keywords: small gardens, growing vegetables, small vegetable garden

About this Author

Brian Hill's first writing credit was the cover story for a national magazine. He is the author of three popular books, "The Making of a Bestseller," "Inside Secrets to Venture Capital" and "Attracting Capital from Angels." Among his magazine article credits are the March 2005 and June 2008 issues of "The Writer." His interests include golf, football, movies and his two dogs.