The bad news is that the world is a crowded place and not everyone is lucky enough to have a big garden to putter around in. The good news is it does not matter. Even if your garden space is the size of a postage stamp or a balcony, with thoughtful planning you can get a surprising number of plants and respectable yields of fruits, vegetables and flowers from the tiniest garden area.
Take advantage of the one direction with unlimited space available--head for the sky. Use strawberry barrels or tiered planting boxes to grow everything from strawberries to lettuces, mustard, kale, arugula and other salad greens to herbs and flowers. Train peas, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers and even melons up trellises or fences, supporting heavy fruits in mesh bags or sections of old pantyhose. Screw cup hooks into fences or outbuildings; string wires through them and grow vines directly against a south wall. Grow a productive privacy screen by stringing wires from hooks hung under house eaves to stakes pounded in the ground beneath. Plant flowers or vegetables at the base to shade windows as they grow.
Plant Dwarfs and Minis
Do your homework before starting your garden. Nurseries and seed catalogs abound with fruits and vegetables specifically bred to grow in small spaces. Look for bush varieties of squash and beans, among others. If you want fruit, look for dwarf citrus trees, patio blueberries and columnar apple, cherry or peach trees capable of growing in relatively small pots. For tomatoes, select bush determinate varieties--most are much smaller plants than are their indeterminate cousins.
Hang Your Veggies
Make use of some of the innovative hanging systems--like the topsy-turvy tomato--and grow bags to grow tomatoes and other vegetables upside-down or make your own upside-down system using a 2-liter bottle or 5-gallon bucket. Hanging plants frees the space beneath them for growing other plants. Fill window boxes with herbs as well as flowers or even miniature versions of ordinary vegetables. 'Tumbler' tomato is one such mini;'Tiny Tim' is another--both selected for small size to grow in hanging pots or window boxes where they cascade over the edge and produce clusters of petite red cherry-type tomatoes.
Plant Often and Harvest Small
Get more variety in less space by planting in small pots and harvesting vegetables before they mature. This is a great way to get baby veggies for stir-fries and salads. Plant one variety in each pot then harvest and replant as soon as vegetables reach the desired size or stagger plantings every two weeks between two or more pots to maintain a continuous harvest.