Use the French Intensive Method
Use the century old method of French intensive gardening that combines special soil preparation with heavy organic fertilizing and dense plantings of vegetables.
Prepare the garden bed by rototilling or double digging with a spade. Work in compost and manure until 1/3 of the top 12 inches of soil is organic matter.
Form a low mound with the soil and rake smooth. Add manure and bone meal to the top 2 inches of the mound and work it in before raking smooth again.
Water the mound for 2 days before planting with seed or starter plants. Thin the seedlings in a French intensive garden to half of the required spacing recommended on the packet.
Use Raised Beds or Planters
Choose to plant a small garden using raised beds or planters if the soil is not fertile or has poor drainage. Using raised beds also minimizes the stooping required for weeding and planting. In addition, raised bed soil warms earlier than the surrounding ground.
Make a raised bed by stacking 2-inch thick treated boards into a 4x4 foot square until 12 inches high. Support the boards with stakes on the outside.
Fill the planter with enriched soil until about 3 inches below the top edge of the planter box.
Construct raised beds in traditional squares or rectangles, as stepped boxes for more plantings or as a planter with a trellis for pole beans.
Grow Vegetables in Containers
Grow vegetables in containers all year round since they can move from indoors to the patio or deck and the backyard.
Plant vegetables like lettuce, carrots and radishes that take up little garden space in a container garden. Rhubarb or squash quickly outgrow a container garden.
Use a galvanized or plastic pail to grow vegetables in, as long as it is sturdy. If there are no drain holes, drill some around the base about an inch from the ground on the sides.
Fill the container with a garden mix of vermiculite, peat moss and fertilizer before planting.
Buy miniature varieties of garden vegetables that use less space to grow in container gardens.