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Gardening in Limited Space and Other Gardening Options

Bob is a garden writer and a permaculture designer. His ebook, From My Garden, is widely available.

Small Spaces and Beyond

So you want to garden but your backyard is small or non-existent; well do not let that discourage you, if you have the will, you will find the way.

The first step, as in all forms of gardening, is to assess you existing space. How much room do you have? How much sun and shade does that space get?

What do you want to grow? This hub will focus on growing food, so what vegetables, fruits and herbs do you eat?

Do not be surprised at the possibility of growing fruit in a small space. There are dwarf and small fruit trees that can be grown in containers on a patio, deck or balcony.

Does your family love salads? You can grow your own mesclun mix in a container or a wheelbarrow, for example.

Herbs, work well in window boxes or indoors in a brightly lit window, preferably in your kitchen, near where they will be used.

OK, you now have a list of what you want to grow, where you will grow it and how much sunlight the spot gets.

If you have a yard, then you may want to build or have built a raised bed for you vegetables, grow them in containers or use a no-till method to plant them in the ground. If the space you have for gardening is small, then containers are perfect.

Think up and plan vertically, trellises will support, peas, beans and even squash, as long as the support is strong enough.

This thinking outside the ground is vital when your space is small.

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You might have a stairway or fire escape that can hold a few containers; basil and cherry tomatoes do well together in containers.

Assess every square foot of your property, you are looking for a space that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight per day, no matter how small.

You may have to accept that the space that is available to you on your property be it house, apartment or condo will not grow enough food to meet all of your family’s food needs but is big enough to grow something and that is what matters. You have taken a step towards growing your own food, celebrate and plant.

Now what happens if you do not have any space on the property at all; for whatever reason, if this is the case, then it is time to start looking a little further away.

Give some though to using someone else’s yard to grow your food. Do you have a friend or a relative who has space but is not growing any vegetables on it? They may be willing to let you use their yard for gardening and you can offer them a per cent age of your crop in return.

No relatives or friends who have the space well how about neighbours? Now is not the time to be shy; take a walk around your neighbourhood and see what is going on. Is there a senior living alone who may enjoy having someone grow food and sharing the yield?

Ask friends, relatives, neighbours, the corner grocer, and a minister, anyone you can think of if they know someone who might be willing to share their space. Remember try to keep this shared garden as close to home as possible; distant gardening puts extra demands upon your time.

The Community Garden:

Is there a community garden in your neighbourhood? Don’t know, stop by city hall and ask; they may be able to help. If you have a community centre or neighbourhood centre then stop by there and ask about community gardening. They may know or may be interested in starting one.

If you are living in an apartment complex or a condo, start talking with yoru neighbours. Ask them if they have any interest in growing their own food. If you get a positive response then bring people together to see what can be done. They may have fiends, relatives who would be willing to share or be aware of a great space that is just calling out for a garden.

If you identify an empty lot that needs a garden; you will need to determine ownership first, once you have done this, contact the owner and get permission to use the space as a garden.

This is a possibly risky business as you may not be able to get any long term guarantees over the land use, so consider that before getting too involved.

Let’s get back to your small space. One container can be a garden; you can grow, for example, tomatoes, cucumbers, salad greens and herbs in a single container as long as that container is approximately 3 feet wide and two feet high; you could build a box that size and have a mini-garden.

Think mobile. I mentioned a wheelbarrow garden earlier but a wagon or cart or a table on wheels can do the job.

Think minature. There are cherry tomatoes and miniature varieties of cucumbers squash and fruit trees that are ideal for small space gardens.

You have seen pretty flowers growing in window boxes and hanging planters well, vegetables can be grown in them as well. Now that you have read this, take a good, analytical look at your space. Think up, think small, let your imagination and your desire to grow food guide you.

Salad Garden

  • salads
    Suffering from a lack of space? Plant a salad garden in a pot!



Fruit Trees



Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on March 08, 2011:

Lots of good info here at Hubpages, happy growing and thanks for dropping by.

BrightMeadow from a room of one's own on March 08, 2011:

Great hub. I am just trying to learn the fine art of gardening my own vegetables.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on July 05, 2010:

Exactly, thanks for the comment.

kennynext from Everywhere on July 04, 2010:

I really like the wheel barrow idea. You can move it around for maximum sunlight and it would be easy to take care of.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on April 30, 2010:

Thanks for commenting

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on December 11, 2009:

Thanks for dropping by.

Christine B. on December 10, 2009:

Thanks for the ideas on growing veggies in my tiny yard!

Christine in Alaska

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on November 24, 2009:

Enjoy and thanks for dropping by.

thaninja from America on November 24, 2009:

I have big plans for indoor gardening, but small space. I think I will start with a window herb box, and move up from there. I worked in greenhouses and am a tinkerer, so I tend to get ahead of myself when planning these projects.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 16, 2009:

Thank you and the same to you and yours, it's summer time and the gardening is easy.

Zsuzsy Bee from Ontario/Canada on June 16, 2009:

Bob definitely a great hub so full of helpful hints and know-how. I remember reading when you first published it...I just do not know why I didn't comment

hope you're well kindest regards to you and your family


Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 22, 2008:

You are most welcome.

guidebaba from India on June 21, 2008:

Thank you for sharing. I needed this kind of ideas.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 21, 2008:


nipul1 from patan on June 21, 2008:

nice hub,very infromative

Dorsi Diaz from The San Francisco Bay Area on June 20, 2008:

Great hub Bob, as always. You give some good ideas here. Even though I have a large yard, I'm going to check into our community garden here. I will be able to have a dedicated large space to grow vegetables, and I hear that community gardens are great places to share veges and fruits- so I figure I'll share what I have and vice-versa- then everyone will have even more variety.

Thanks for the great hub.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 20, 2008:

When you grow your own you know what's growing and what you are eating.

Debra Allen from West By God on June 20, 2008:

I love to grow my own vegetables and herbs. I like herbs for their looks more than for their effects. I like fresh vegetables not only for the prices at the store versus what I can grow but also for the fact that my vegetables don't have any chemicals or pesticides on them.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 20, 2008:

I have heard of tomatoes springing up from compost piles.

that is excellent news, donnalee

donnaleemason from North Dakota, USA on June 20, 2008:

I took info from another one of your hubs and am pleased to report, my garden is thriving this year!!!

Patty Inglish MS from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on June 20, 2008:

The idea of a balcony garden in New Orleans is a lovely picture. Container gardening is productive as well as beautiful to see. Last year, strawberries even grew out of my very compost pile!

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 20, 2008:

no, not even close. :) well the Yukon was as close as i got.

marisuewrites from USA on June 20, 2008:

I meant to tell you that your new picture makes me think of a captain of a boat like on the Deadliest Catch! Ever been to the "Bering Sea?"

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 20, 2008:

"If you can find a vacant lot, you can go to City Hall to find out who owns it," sound advice and thanks for the comment.

Loni L Ice from Lawrence, KS on June 20, 2008:

Thanks for a great Hub! I now have a huge backyard, but I remember doing balcony gardening in my apartment days in New Orleans. I now live in Kansas and must plot to get sand into my soil, as the clay's so thick you can make pots out of it.

Another point from my neck of the woods. If you can find a vacant lot, you can go to City Hall to find out who owns it, several people have done it here in Lawrence. Sometimes if approached properly, they'll let you grow on it if you agree to release them from liability. While not all vacant lots are suitable for vegetable growing, it can be an option for city or apartment dwellers.

Also, check into local food co-ops. We have the Mercantile here where I live, and they run their own organic garden to cut down on vegetable prices. If you volunteer to work in it, you can get prime produce at a discount or seconds for free. Tomato and pepper seconds = spaghetti sauce.

I'm a herbalist, so I grow a patch of medicinal herbs, a patch of culinary herbs, and of course my own vegetable garden. I also learned to can and freeze so I can keep a year's worth of fruits and vegetables without paying grocery prices. It's a pleasure to meet y'all, and I look forward to some wonderful conversations.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 20, 2008:

Thank you for dropping by and I am glad to see you were able to find a space to garden, happy gardening.

Adelaida Kate from Small Town, America on June 19, 2008:

Hi! We just moved to a small town from the city. I was really disappointed when our new landlord said we couldn't have a garden in the large backyard. The good news is that across the alley, a friend of my parents had a garden they were not using. We approached them about using it in exchange for some produce and they were thrilled someone was going to cultivate it again. It's close enough we can water it and work on it really at any time. Thanks for all your information!

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 19, 2008:

Thanks all," a spoon and a glove" it can be this simple if you have the will.

"growing some tomatoes this year. " go for it.

"Very informative and educational. " thanks and welcome.

Yankee Gardener from Maine on June 19, 2008:

Great job on this Hub Bob! I agree that all you have to do is look around and you will find places to grow just about anything you want. I am new to Hubpages and I do like what I have seen on your Hubs so far Bob. Very informative and educational.

Susan Keeping from Kitchener, Ontario on June 19, 2008:

Thanks Bob. I have a small balcony and was thinking of growing some tomatoes this year.

marisuewrites from USA on June 19, 2008:

Great Hub Bob, I like your comment..."a succesful gardner can see the garden regardless of the space. Take time and look around...."

very true!  I think that is the key...when you need food to eat, you'll find a place to grow it.  this article is great with tips and information.  You have made it simple...we just need to gather the seeds, a few tools - or even a spoon and a glove...and get busy!  Another great piece of advice, Bob!   Thank you again!

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 19, 2008:

It is worth giving thought to how you can grow some of your own food.

WendyRenee from Pittsburgh, PA on June 19, 2008:

With the rising costs of gas and groceries, I have definitely been considering this.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 19, 2008:

You are welcome, gardenign can be a source of fond emeories.

Dottie1 from MA, USA on June 19, 2008:

When I was a kid my dad had a garden at his friend's house who lived next to a drive-in theatre. While my dad tended his garden, me and my 3 sisters would cross a little stream to watch the movie. He could always find us in front of the screen, flying high on the swings. I still visit the drive-in theatre often but now to grocery shop and pump gas. Great hub. I love your idea to "think out of the ground". Thanks for helping.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 19, 2008:

Nickel, looking forward to it, Thanks New day, community gardening is an ideal way to meet your neighbours.

New Day from Western United States on June 19, 2008:

Excellent! I plant an herb pot every year so that I can use fresh herbs for cooking without having to go to the store for overpriced, less tasty verions (that I end up wasting most of anyway). The community garden is very popular in some areas of the Western United states. A great way to come together with neighbors, grow healthy produce - or fresh flowers - and connect with the earth.

Nickel on June 19, 2008:

Okay. I will let you know how it turns out.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 19, 2008:

Thanks, Nickel, with apples you need 2 trees. enjoy.

Nickel on June 19, 2008:

Bob, you are just wonderful! This is exactly what I was looking for to help start my garden at my apartment. Contianer Apple Tree here I come!

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 18, 2008:

You are welcome, enjoy the garden.

mulder from Warnbro Western Australia on June 18, 2008:

Thanks Bob great info we are doing up our vegie patch this weekend so you tips will come handy .

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 18, 2008:

Thanks, go for it.

Marlene_OnTheWall from Singapore on June 18, 2008:

Inspiring hub. I particularly like your idea that a small box can be a mini garden. Makes me want to go out and start my own.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 18, 2008:

Now is a good time to get started.

Om Paramapoonya on June 18, 2008:

Nice tips. Now that food prices are up, I think I'm really gonna grow my own veggies!

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 18, 2008:

Thanks for the comment, a succesful gardner can see the garden regardless of the space. Take time and look around.

Andy Xie from Toronto, Ontario, Canada on June 18, 2008:

Very good hub. Growing vertically is great if you have limited floor/land space but you have lots of height. Growing up also makes the garden look like it has more than it actually does. As an added side note, organizing things around the house vertically gives you lots more space.

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