Vegetable gardening is easy to do in small urban landscapes and larger suburban backyards. Gardeners can make the most of the space available by planting in unusual containers and using vertical space. Composting and companion planting are a part of traditional garden knowledge. You can make the most out of your vegetable garden space in several ways.
Rice Bag Planter
A 25-pound rice bag can be used as a container to grow tomatoes or a trailing autumn squash plant. Rice bags are reinforced plastic fabric and will not leak. Asian food restaurants often throw these bags away. Put several holes in the bottom of the bag for good water drainage and place it in a sunny garden spot. Fill it with ½ compost and ½ garden soil to 5 inches from the top of the bag. Fold down the bag top for a neat look. Place one 4- to 5-inch tomato plant or squash plant into the soil and water thoroughly.
Companion planting is both traditional gardening wisdom and modern science. It is based on the idea that certain plants benefit others when grown in close proximity. Some plants exude chemicals that repel harmful insects. Plant squash, cucumber, pumpkin, potatoes and beans near corn. Heirloom tomatoes benefit from being planted with nasturtium, marigolds, parsley and all types of onions. Marigold releases thiopene from its leaves, which repels nematodes. Tomatoes do not do well when planted with potatoes or members of the cabbage family. The National Sustainable Resource Information Service publishes garden designs for companion planting (see References).
Rain Gutter Garden
Recycled rain gutters can be made into planters to grow lettuce and other small garden vegetables. Drill holes 4 inches apart along the bottom of a length of rain gutter. Mount it to the side of the house or garage at a low enough height to make watering easy. Place another rain gutter one foot above this one. Fill them with potting soil that is rich in compost. Plant lettuce seeds directly in the soil ¼ inch deep. Thin the seedlings when they are 1 to 2 inches tall and use them in salads. Radish, spinach and chives also do well in rain gutter gardens.