Real Men Sow

5 Tips for Growing Veg in Small Spaces


I’m a little late to the party this year, but I’m finally getting round to planning my plot. I’ve been out with the tape measure, double checking the size of my space before stealing Lewis’s coloured pencils to draw up my 2015 masterpiece.

I love plot planning, especially now I have a smaller kitchen garden rather than my big double rod allotment plot. Using a smaller space takes a bit of thinking, but is a really rewarding challenge – especially come high summer and your little growing area is not only beautiful, but far more productive you ever thought possible.

I’m now in my third year of garden growing. Here are my 5 favourite tips for maximising your veg growing yields in a small space.

Grow in Containers
Using containers to grow veg has proven popular over the last few years, especially for people without a garden or allotment. Some growers, such as Mark from Vertical Veg, have done incredible things on balconies and in back yards.

I’ve had success with plenty of veg in containers, including peas, salad leaves and chard. In fact, I think some crops are even better suited to containers. Carrots and parsnips grow well in florist buckets as you can control the soil, avoiding the irritating stumpy roots that you get if you have very stony soil.

Containers dry out quickly though, so make sure you keep on top of the watering.

Grow Upwards
Since I began growing in my back garden, I’ve made much better use of structures, such as wigwams. I used to grow my peas and mangetout in rows, until I discovered high climbing varieties.

Some of these will grow to 6ft, making them perfect for wigwams. The beauty of wigwams is heavy crops in just a few square feet.

Intercropping is the idea of sowing a quick growing crop in with a slow growing one. Whilst the slow grower plods on, you get a bonus harvest from the space.

Typically, this is a Summer salady vegetable in alongside a leafy Winter plant, such as radishes sown amongst Brussel sprouts. I’ve also grown lettuce with my PSB, and dwarf French beans underneath sweetcorn (as suggested by Douglas of Sweet Pea Salads).

Grow What You Eat!
One of my favourite GYO beginner tips is grow what you like to eat. If you’re limited in space, don’t waste it with veg that we don’t eat much of.

It’s a pretty obvious concept when you think about it, but there are still times that this passes me by. Use your space wisely and grow what you love. Six good harvests of things you enjoy or can store are better than a dozen crops you only half like.

Successional Sowing
In a small area, it’s important to make the most of any available space. Plan to have seedlings ready to be planted out once you’ve pulled out a finished crop.

For example, get some French bean seedlings ready to go straight in after the broad beans finish, or pak choi to follow the first beetroot harvest.

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About Real Men Sow

meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope. However, over a decade later, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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