How to Plant More Vegetable Plants in a Smaller Garden Area


In 1972 a group called Ecology Action started a small community garden in Palo Alto, California. It was based on a technique called biointensive gardening and proved itself quickly by producing a complete vegetarian diet for one person on 2800 square feet of land. By 1985, the biointensive method had spread to many countries and helped to feed people in places like Africa, where it helped to conquer famines. Ecology Action continues to spread the good word about how to grow more vegetables on less land than you thought possible, and you can too, simply by following a few simple hints and tips.

Step 1

Prepare a 100 square foot garden bed area by soaking the soil for two hours. Then allow it to dry out for two days. Using a spading fork, loosen the soil to 12 inches deep and remove all weeds. Then water it again for five minutes and let the soil sit for one day after that.

Step 2

Spread a 1-inch layer of compost over the surface of your bed. Water again for five minutes and allow the area to rest for one day.

Step 3

Dig a trench about 12 inches deep across one end of your bed area and save the soil/compost mixture on the side or in a wheelbarrow.

Step 4

Double dig the bed by first turning under the soil in the trench to a depth of 12 inches with your shovel or spading fork. Then move to the area adjacent to the trench and dig out 12 inches of soil, forming another trench. As you dig out the soil, dump each shovelful into the first trench.

Step 5

Continue double digging until you reach the end of the bed. After you dig out the final trench, fill it with the soil you dug from the first trench.

Step 6

Rake the top of your bed level, and then water the entire area for three to five minutes and allow it to sit for one day.

Step 7

Scatter organic materials such as blood meal, bone meal, kelp meal, wood ash, eggshells or compost over the top of your finished bed. Mix them in with your spading fork loosely, much like tossing a salad.

Step 8

Plant seeds or transplant young plants into your bed as soon as you want. Plant them closely together because this method makes such a rich growing environment you can plant more in less space.

Things You'll Need

  • Sprinkler
  • Spading fork
  • Compost and other organic materials
  • Shovel
  • Wheelbarrow (optional)
  • Rake


  • Ecology Action
  • How To Grow More Vegetables; John Jeavons; 1974
  • Grow Biointensive Workshop
Keywords: biointensive method, Ecology Action, gardening vegetables

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hiā€˜iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Barbara wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, and She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.