As springtime draws near, people become interested in planting their own vegetable gardens. But for thousands of gardeners, their growing space is limited to small urban or suburban land areas. What at first seems like a problem, however, turns out not to be a problem at all. There are many vegetable varieties that lend themselves to small spaces, either by nature or by culture.
Small Garden Vegetables
Not only do each of these plants require very little space, each one can also be grown easily in pots, hanging baskets or containers.
Lettuce--Butter lettuce varieties are short and they usually don't get very wide. The romaine lettuce varieties grow the most vertically, which will offer the greatest amount of room.
Carrots--carrots are a predominately narrow vegetable (even when they're thick), so you don't need a lot of space to get a fairly big harvest.
Tomatoes--The space required for tomatoes is dictated only by how many plants you have. A single tomato plant can be easily grown in a container. Consider staking and pruning an indeterminate (vine) variety as opposed to just caging. This can save a lot of room.
Garlic and onion--Garlic and onion bulbs are great for small gardens. The garlic works exceptionally well, as the bulbs are 1/3 the size of an onion.
Herbs--All herbs fit well in a small garden. Also, they take very well to long planters and pots. Try oregano, basil, thyme, sage, dill, parsley, cilantro, rosemary and mint. Mint can be incredibly invasive, so many gardeners grow it in containers exclusively.
Chives--Chives are slender and tall, making them a natural for small places.
Radishes--Radishes make themselves at home just about anywhere, not to mention they're the fastest growers around.
Strawberries--Strawberries not only grow well in small gardens, but they thrive in containers and hanging baskets as well.
Dwarf Vegetable Varieties
Miniature pumpkins. You may not have sprawling land for the giants but everyone has enough space for the miniature pumpkins like "Jack Be Little" and the little white, "Baby Boo."
Small melon varieties. Melons don't have to be the huge, 4th of July picnic type. There are plenty of smaller varieties that grow on shorter vines and have smaller leaves. Try "Golden Midget." "Sugar Baby" and "Yellow Doll." Your taste buds won't know the difference.
Short or ball-type carrots. If your garden space in not only horizontally challenged but has a depth problem as well, try the short or ball varieties such as 'Thumbelina', 'Parisienne', 'Little Finger', or 'Shin Kuroda'.
Determinate tomato plants. Tomato plants come in two types: indeterminate and determinate. The indeterminates are vine-types and grow as high as 7 to 10 feet tall. The determinate plants stay comparatively compact and can be as short as 2 to 3 feet tall.
Small eggplant varieties. While "Easter Egg" and "Rosa Bianca" are small varieties by nature, most eggplant varieties lend themselves to any size garden--as long as there's a lot of warmth.
Vegetables to Grow Vertically
Miniature pumpkins, cucumbers, zucchini, peas, climbing green beans and eggplant can be grown on a trellis, obelisk or any other type of support that gives the small vegetable gardener some serious flexibility with what little space they do have. Be sure to plant vertical vegetables on the north side of the garden bed so they don't end up shading the shorter ones.