Secrets to Success

Small Space and Container Gardening: Tips, Tricks, and Best Varieties

Small Space and Container Gardening: Tips, Tricks, and Best Varieties

Small on space but big on gardening? A lot can happen in a small space. With some creativity and the right varieties, a small space can offer a big yield.

Tips to make the most of your space
Grow up!
Growing vertical is an efficient use of space for vines like tomatoes, beans, squash, melons, cucumbers, and peas. Using trellises, cages, and fencing also saves your knees, increases airflow to plants, reducing the risk of fungal diseases, and puts harvest within arms reach. See our blog DIY Tomato Supports for a low-cost, easy way to trellis tomatoes, cucumbers, winter squash, flowering vines, really anything that will climb.

Smart spacing
Sow for two harvests at once. For crops that offer a one-time harvest like carrots or radishes, sow and thin to half the final suggested spacing. Harvest every other plant when they are half grown for baby carrots and beets. Sow radishes between rows of slower maturing crops like carrots. Quick to sprout radishes not only mark where you've planted and where you need to water, but will be harvested before the other crop is large enough to feel crowded. Also, planting in a staggered triangular pattern is more space efficient than rows or squares.

Start indoors
Many crops can be started by seed indoors and transplanted out shortly after. This can save a month or more of time in the garden bed, leaving room for something else to mature.

How to Grow in Containers
Your container potting soil (media) is really important. If you're having a hard time choosing, pick one that is labeled for containers. It will hold the right amount of water, nutrients, and air to ensure the healthiest possible plants. Some potting soil comes with compost or slow-release fertilizer incorporated right into it; consider this when evaluating cost.

Plan your container according to the mature size of plants you want to put in it. Even plants in containers need room to grow. A bit of crowding can work, but don't overdo it. Overcrowding can cause water stress, reduce airflow, and increase competition for light and nutrients. Stress and over-fertilization leaves plants susceptible to pest and diseases. Want to use a really big container but don't want to use tons of soil? 12"-18" is plenty deep for most plants. You can turn over a plastic or clay pot in the bottom to displace some of the soil or reuse Styrofoam packing peanuts to take up space. You'll save on potting soil and water, and your container will weigh less, too.

Water and Fertilizer
Keep in mind, containers that are really full, very small, or in sunny and windy places will need water more often. Watering in the morning to prevent stress is best. Healthy, stress-free plants will stay productive and flower longer. Container plants need regular feeding. If your potting soil doesn't contain fertilizer, add a slow-release fertilizer, or regularly feed with a water-soluble fertilizer.

Great container varieties
Our Container Vegetable Collection makes an easy choice for container growing. Don't rule out crops you thought were too big for containers. A larger container can grow summer squash or even some bush-type winter squashes and cucumbers like Gold Nugget Winter Squash and Spacemaster Cucumber just fine! The same goes for root crops like beets and carrots. Use a deeper pot for these delicious roots and choose a small variety like Tonda di Parigi Carrots, or harvest beets at a smaller stage. Add Alyssum too for color and fragrance while attracting beneficial insects and pollinators. You can also add Five Color Silverbeet Swiss chard or Red Giant Mustard for beautiful, edible color and texture to decorative container plantings.

Search all of our varieties that that thrive in small spaces and containers.

Get Educated
Read our blog posts about choosing the right container, and choosing the right soil for your containers.

Get inspired!
Read our blog about growing cat grass in a container for Easter baskets and repurposing household items as containers.

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