This struck a chord with me – growing in raised beds is a lot about crop choice and efficient use of space. Having used raised beds for the last few years, space is a biggie in my garden, especially when compared to the free and easy, chuck it anywhere option on my roomy allotment plot.
I learnt this the hard way when I over-planted and my back garden patch became a vegetable jungle. Each plant competed for the same space, bogging one another down and making getting around more like a strenuous yoga workout than a potter in the garden.
The next year, my plot plan was very different. One change I made was increased use of smaller, dwarf veg varieties. These littler but equally productive plants are great if you’re growing in a small space.
Here are 5 I’ve had success with.
French beans are super veg to grow – they’re unfussy, tasty and from my experience, incredibly productive. I grow the prolific Tendergreen dwarf variety, which has become one of the first names on my veg plot team sheet.
Two short, 5ft rows planted next to each other will provide mutual support and easily yield enough beans for a family. I find myself chasing my tail to keep up with the harvest but fortunately, French beans freeze well so you can bung them in your freezer for Winter.
Although not as productive as traditional wigwam runners, I still harvested a good crop of beans from Hestia, another dwarf variety. They’re grown in the same way as dwarf French beans but do like a richer soil so consider planting a row on top of a runner bean trench.
Hestia seeds aren’t cheap, but if you’re struggling to fit a wigwam into your growing space then this variety could be just the job.
Sutton is a neat, compact broadie variety, perfect for small spaces. The plants only grow to about 30cm high, and if planted in grids will support themselves. I do still like to stake and tie around the plants for extra stability though.
Sutton is also a good choice for overwintering. I often sow under cloches or in pots in the greenhouse in Autumn for a Springtime harvest.
Traditional kale grows on top of a long stem, a bit like Brussel sprouts. This can take up a lot of space, so the Dwarf Green Curled variety is a useful alternative in small beds or gardens.
It grows close to the ground, in rows, so you can fit more plants in, and is a good choice on open, windswept plots.
Like all kale, Dwarf Green Curled is as hardy as veg come, surviving even the grottiest of Winter weather.
When I grow rows of peas in my garden, I often choose the early variety Meteor. Meteor only grows to about 50cm high, and planting the peas close together in two rows allows for plenty of plants in any given space.
I also love growing peas up twigs, sticks, and old raspberry canes as these look really pretty on a plot. Being a compact variety makes Meteor just right for this.